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Sunday, November 23, 2014

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

It's the holiday season.  Some love it, others loathe it.  Are you a grinch, scrooge or are you Santa himself?  Have you ever given any thought as to why you feel the way you do about the holidays? I have run the gamut of emotions towards this time of the year.   I always looked forward to Thanksgiving because there were foods I didn't get any other time of the year.  I always anticipated the day with such joy, I'm not sure why. I would get so excited when people would be coming over and the smells in the house and the preparation.  It was all so out of the ordinary and I loved that.  Looking back, I spent a great deal of time alone during those holiday celebrations.  I never had anyone my age and back then children were seen and not heard.  My uncle Tommy was someone that I just loved being around.  He rarely paid attention to me looking back, but there was something about him that I just adored!  And he was funny, he would tell stories that had everyone laughing (they of course went over my head but I was enthralled with him nonetheless).  My mother never sat.  Looking back I never remember her enjoying the actual company at Thanksgiving, she was always in the kitchen and as years passed my sister was in there with her.  Did they enjoy the day?  Not sure.  My dad did, that's for sure.  He loved it.  Having everyone over, playing host---that's his thing.  I remember him at the head of the table and my Uncle Tommy at the other.  It was safe for me, and comforting.

As the years passed our Thanksgiving turned into less extended family and our family friends came over.  Those were memories I loved!  It's funny, but now that I'm older the family dynamics of the fact that my aunts and uncles were also my dad's siblings gives me a lot of aha moments that I didn't have back then.  The family dynamics that can make or break a holiday.  Once the holiday became quieter and it was our closest family friends over I definitely enjoyed it more, was included more.  The children should be seen and not heard dynamic was gone more or less because we weren't little anymore.  The stories didn't go as far over my head as they used to.  It was more fun for me.

Then it became a day for just our immediate family and our significant others.  Those were more ordinary (like a regular dinner) a little more stressful (who had to leave at what time to get to their boyfriend/girlfriends family) ---the times had changed.  Then my parents moved to Florida and for a few years it was very lost during Thanksgiving.  My brother would go to his in laws and my sister and I would go to my Aunts.  It was odd.  It felt strange.  I'll never forget the first year I didn't see anyone in my family on Thanksgiving and the food was so much different than I grew up with. I can feel it like it was this morning---it was awful.  That's when I decided I would cook Thanksgiving dinner until the day came that I was physically unable to do it again.

So, in 1988 I started making Thanksgiving dinner and it was hosted at my home every year since.  I've missed a few (one the year I moved and once when I was back in NY for Thanksgiving) but other than that Thanksgiving is MY holiday. When Richie turned 5 I started a tradition of giving him a nutcracker every year on Thanksgiving and Danny got a snowman.  My goal was that when they moved out of my home they would have their own set of Christmas decorations for their own home.  Emily came along and I started her on angels. They look forward to that every year and they each have a nice collection already!   Some years it bothers me that my kids don't have a lot of family coming over or anyone other than us.  But whenever I suggest inviting anyone or doing something different they look at me like I'm nuts.  They love it just being the 4 of us.  We started a new tradition of going and seeing a movie after dinner (I started that knowing I would be getting divorced and I didn't want that first Thanksgiving after the divorce to be weird--I worried for nothing!) Last year nothing was playing so we had a Santa Clause 1 2 and 3 marathon.  They have great memories.  No stress, no strife, nothing but food and football, family and fun.  And the food?  I have it down to a science--I even get to sit and watch the parade <3

Ha....as I'm typing this my daughter came into the room and said "It's almost Thanksgiving mama.  I can't wait for the food!  You always make the best food!"   And with THAT I am very very Thankful xoxoxo

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Letting go and moving on...

If the movie Frozen has taught the world anything it's to "Let it Go".  Now, over the years I have learned to let go of lots of things.  Anger.  Bitterness.  Frustration.  Insecurities. Fear.  People. Perfectionism. Judgements. Critical attitudes.  The list goes on.  I was thinking, I am rocking this releasing and letting go stuff.  I've got it all under control.  Oh. Control. riiiiigggghhhhttt...Yea, I haven't actually mastered letting go of that yet!  I thought I had. However, there is one part of my life that I just can't seem to let go of control.

When my kids were little I was a control freak mom.  They had to look perfect.  Matching outfits for the whole family for holidays.  I was over the top.  I used to stress myself out so much tending to the details of birthday parties and wrapping and just every flipping detail.  And I am NOT a detail oriented person.  As I got older I realized it wasn't worth the struggle.  I was trying to impress people that quite frankly I didn't even like.  Trying to portray the perfect family.  Yeaaahhhh, that was a load of crap.  I became so much happier when I stopped doing that!  So were my kids. OK, so I got this right?  I was cooking with gas.

When my oldest started driving I was a crazy control freak---I made him check in constantly and it was just over the top.  I didn't know how to be the mother of a teenager.  We finally worked that out and I let go of the reins a bit.  I kept telling myself when he's in college I won't know what he's doing.  And I was OK with it (felt guilty for being okay with it actually, but I learned).  Now that the middle one is out with his friends all the time and driving I'm OK.  I'm letting go and it's easy peasy.  I've got this right?  I only offer my advice when it's asked for (which luckily my boys DO still ask) and I don't get all pissy if they don't take it.  That's a huge step for me!  So, what else do I need to learn for cryin' out loud.

Relationships.  Yes,  That's my problem.  And I've gotten better with that for sure!  I have had a lot of people come and go in my life and I used to struggle with walking away from relationships.  It's gotten easier as I've realized that some people come into your life for a reason, a season and very few for a lifetime.  Some people are a blessing and others are a lesson.  Usually I can tell the difference.  My intuition guides me in the right direction and when I trust it I can guarantee my decision will be the right one.  The problem is, sometimes I doubt that intuition and that's when the trouble ensues.  When I was younger I would get all angry at certain things and fly off the handle when I felt I was being treated unfairly.  I am a very all or nothing person.  I don't like to waste time with things or people that are bringing me sadness or stress.  I'm also a loving and caring person.  When I love you, I love you with everything I am.  I'm a loyal, loving and I'll give you whatever I have and do whatever I can to help you.  The flip side of my personality is that if you treat me badly and show yourself to not be deserving of my devotion and you betray me well I can write you off and never look back.  I don't have guilt about it either, because up until that time I have given everything I could to the relationship.  I have had pretty much every person that I have left behind in my life come back at some point and want to reconnect.  I am forgiving to a fault and I will forgive and move on.  So, I have the let it go stuff pretty much under control right?  Maybe.

There is one relationship in my life that I just can't seem to let go of.  I don't want to, that's probably it.  It's the first time in my life I can't just walk away with a clean break.  It's frustrating me.  It's not benefiting me in any way.  It's breaking my heart and stressing me out actually.  So why can't I just let it go?  My intuition is saying that I'm not supposed to.  But how do I know that it's not just wishful thinking?  How am I supposed to move forward in my life? When everything I see is pointing one way so obviously, why does my heart say no, that's not how it is.  This has never happened to me before and quite frankly it's left me very sad and frustrated.  I've spent the last nearly 20 years learning to let go of that which is bringing more negative than positive into my life yet I can't seem to get past this one.  Some days I do great and feel like it's all good, I'm moving on and past it and yet others it's as fresh as it was on day 1.  I know that whatever I am supposed to take from this will come to me and help me be better and stronger in the long run.  I just wish the long run wasn't taking so long.  In the meantime, I will practice letting go and call on my angels and God to help me through it and take each day as it comes.  After all.....it's just a day in the life <3

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Popping my Bubble

With all the changes I've gone through in the past 3-5 years it is only natural that new people and places come into my life.  I don't like change.  I don't like new.  But, the next half of my life is calling and I need to answer it.  So many people and things have told me I need to let go of the past.  I need to be open to new experiences and new people and whatever life has in store for me.  I'm trying.  That doesn't mean I have to like it.  I used to be able to have a conversation with just about anyone.  I used to be able to make new friends quickly and easily.  I don't like that anymore.  Of course, if you ask any of my friends who have been out with me in public they will tell you that I still have that "gift", I do still strike up conversations with people but I'm not as comfortable doing it as I used to be.  I enjoy living in my little bubble.  I'm kinda pissed that it keeps getting popped.

I'm sort of up in arms this year about my son having to work on Thanksgiving.  It's the first year ever we won't eat dinner as a family.  If you've been reading my blog all along you will know that family dinner is kinda a big deal to me.  I've adjusted to only having it once or twice a week.  I don't like it, but I've put on my big girl panties and I've adjusted.  But THANKSGIVING?  Really?  That's like the biggest family dinner day of the year, just sayin'.  It's an entire day dedicated to dinner.  And this year, there will be one chair empty at our table.  But as my snarky 20 year old informed me today "You know what's great about holidays Ma?  As long as we don't die we get another one next year!"    Yes, I did want to smack him (just kidding, kinda) but he's right.  It's just one.  But its the FIRST one.  And this has opened up a whole new world for me.

I have never considered the many, many people who have to work on holidays.  I have been up in arms about the whole Black Friday running into Thanksgiving fiasco, but I never thought about the people that work at restaurants or movie theaters or grocery stores that have to work too!  I remember one year when I still lived in New York and I hosted Thanksgiving for my family every year I forgot to get heavy cream for the mashed potatoes.  Now, this is not the end of the world by any means.  But, since 7-11 was open 24 hrs a day anyway I did send my ex out to get it from 7-11.  I specifically told him under no circumstances to go to the grocery store.  I wanted creamy potatoes, but I still had standards after all :)  Then a few years back we got a bad turkey.  I knew it smelled funky, but I cooked it anyway.  Ohhhh MMMMM  GGGGG!  The smell in the house was rancid!  Thanksgiving was ruined!  Well, I figured the grocery store people were there anyway so I went over and picked up a small turkey breast to save Thanksgiving.  I felt guilty about it though, not going to lie, and if they weren't open oh well, we wouldn't have had turkey that year.  Not a travesty!  Anyway, where was I ?  Oh right--my bubble being popped!

Last night I went out with some friends for a late night snack and the manager of the restaurant was chatting with us when we said how empty the restaurant was.  I asked about Christmas and Thanksgiving (I'm obsessed I tell you!  This outrage is not ok with me) and he told me they are packed from open to close on both holidays.  My jaw dropped open.  I said "There are that many people with no where to go and have to eat alone?"  (tears were brimming...I was ready to hang a sign up on my door to take them in) he said, "Oh no! There are families packing this place"....WHAT????  People don't stay home or go to family on holidays?  Seriously?  I felt like Alice in Wonderland when she fell down the rabbit hole.  Now I went from feeling bad for the workers to feeling bad for these families.  No home cooked meal on a holiday?  No smells in the kitchen? No pretty table decorations?  No LEFTOVERS? Pop went my bubble.  There is a whole other world that goes on outside my door I tell you and I wasn't sure I liked it.  No, I definitely didn't like it!  Being the obsessed, crazed woman I am I mulled it over before bed, and then again today--a lot.  Then I realized....maybe these people ENJOY their traditions.  Maybe the people that work on the holidays don't all mind it.  Maybe it's not a huge deal to them, kinda like I despise New Years Eve (I'd love to work on New Years eve I tell ya!).  Who says my way is the right way?  There is a whole other way of doing things out there obviously.  None that I think I prefer, but out there nonetheless.  

Now that my bubble is popped I am eager to see what else I've been missing.  Who knows?  2015 might bring a whole new me <3

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Watching boys become men.....

My sons are the loves of my life.  Don't get me wrong I ADORE my daughter but my boys...well they are my boys.

When they were little I spent practically every waking moment with them.  I think I lived my life in a bubble.  I never thought about what they'd be like when they were adults, I just relished in their childhood and their presence no matter what age they were.  Thinking about the future for me back then entailed the current year we were in.  I never thought about them growing up and not needing me every second.  When they would drive, or work or date or grow up and leave our home.  So, each milestone hit me like a ton of bricks once they reached high school age.  When my oldest left for college I thought I would have to be committed.  I was devastated.  But, it became the new normal and we all adjusted.  It became the next stage of life.  And it was all OK.  He came home this year and decided not to go back to school, another adjustment---we did it, all of us.  It's again the new normal. Then my younger son got his license and that was it---I never see him.  Now, he's working---the nights that we can have family dinner are dwindling down to maybe 1 a week.  It's OK, I adjusted it's a new normal.  Yesterday he said to me, "Wow, mom I haven't been alone with you in the car in forever!"  It was nice to chat with him in depth without interruption.  I had the same thing with my oldest this week a few times, things I used to take for granted, just talking to my boys is now a cherished happening.  It's nice to know they cherish it too.  I'm blessed.  Most kids their age take their parents for granted and don't really WANT to spend any time with them.  That's how I was at that age.  Which leads me to my thoughts today.....

Most parents want certain things from and for their kids.  I always ALWAYS only wanted them to be happy.  Do I relish when they succeed?  Absolutely!  I love when their grades are high and they are given an award, do well during a baseball game---all of that.  But that's my ego, not my heart.  My heart---it just wants them to be happy.  I realize that most of my childhood and most people I know are superficial.  It's all about how it looks to people. The status of their jobs, their cars, their bank accounts.   I don't give a shit about any of that anymore.  I get annoyed when I talk to those who are in that mindset---actually, I think I've cut out pretty much everyone who does for the most part.  Maybe occasionally interacting on Face book, that's about all I can handle.  Life is so much more than that!

I had a conversation with my oldest yesterday about how people take their jobs so seriously it's ridiculous.  Unless you are saving lives, really?  Does your job mean THAT much?  People put their entire worth into what they do for a living.  It's sad to me.  You are supposed to work to live not live to work.  Life is about relationships and family and food and fun and enjoying---not the bottom line!  However, with that being said, my family has an amazing work ethic.  We do the best at whatever we are given to do.  I am proud of that.  My nieces, nephews, siblings and my own children all have that ethic.  My parents are amazing role models in this behavior.  No matter what task they undertook they did it to the best of their ability (which, not gonna lie, is better than most people's abilities, just sayin').

I have always babied my kids.  I did everything for them.  Never asking them to so much as empty the garbage when they were younger.  Never made their beds, put laundry away, did dishes, hell didn't even prepare their own breakfast until they were like 14.  When my oldest went off to school he accused me of making him unable to care for himself.  Wow-slap in the face---but he had a point!  So, with that I started making them do certain things for themselves.  It made me worry that I had raised spoiled, inept human beings who had a sense of entitlement.  Crap.  That would suck. Then my oldest got a job---that kid busted his ass every day in 115 degree heat with rarely a complaint.  Never called in, never left early, never took a day off.  Thank God, he has it!  He has the work ethic.  Do whatever you do to the best of your ability.  He told me the other day that when he's put in charge at work he's very fair.  He even gave me credit for teaching him how to be fair, that was a nice plus :)

Now his younger brother has joined the work force.   He's got the same attitude.  He didn't love not getting home until midnight the other night when he was supposed to be finished at 9 and had to leave the house at 8 am for baseball.  But he did it.  Kept a positive attitude about it.  He makes me so proud!  These boys were raised in an environment that depicted work as something to complain about....something to hate....to make you miserable, but something that had to be done and in effect defined who you were.  I'm so glad they didn't take any of that into their personalities.  I'm so happy that their genetics won out where that was concerned.  My dad is a HUGE role model for my boys.  They take their cues from him and they couldn't ask for a better example.  I'd like to think that my influence has given them the ability to see what's important in life and how to find balance.   I love that they look forward to time spent together as a family at this stage in their lives.

Being in this phase of life, with my boys branching off and starting their own lives and my role in those lives being reduced to a supporting cast member, it's hard to remember what it was like when we spent 24/7 together and life was just us and the only outside influence was when and who I chose.  This just seems normal and right.  I truly thought when I got to this stage I'd be devastated and living in the past and melancholy---but I'm happy and excited to see what this stage brings.  Just like every other stage with my kids---I never rushed it, just enjoyed it and learned from it.  After all----it's just a day in the life <3

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Is it worth it? Or is single better?

This is going to be an all over the place kind of entry.  I am warning you ahead of time, but I've been toying with these thoughts for a while and I am not sure I can tie it all up in a nice neat bow but here goes.

I've been divorced nearly 3 years.  I haven't regretted it for a split second.  That being said, I have had the easiest divorce probably in history.  My kids, for the most part have adjusted in a way most people dream of.  It's all part of the plan I know.  That doesn't mean I am an advocate for divorce in any way, shape or form.  I tell everyone that comes to me asking about divorce that if there is a smidgen of love left in your marriage then fight for it!  Don't give up. Where there is love, there is hope.  However, if there isn't any love then by all means do what you need to do for everyone concerned.

I never knew divorced couples until I became one.  I'm sure there were plenty around me, but they didn't come into my direct circle until I started thinking seriously about divorce.  Coincidence?  No such thing.  It was God's way of guiding me, helping me and I was bringing these people into my life through my thoughts and the Law of Attraction.  Now that I am divorced, holy shit, left and right everyone around me is getting divorced!  Is it our age?  The 20 something year mark for marriage?  Maybe.  However, if a relationship isn't working all along I guess that's the time when enough is enough.  There are still those people who stay together for the rest of their lives being miserable too.

Since I got divorced whenever anyone is unhappy in their relationship they are drawn to talk to me about it.  I understand that.  I'm the woman with the Scarlet letter so obviously their sins are safe with me.  They also must figure that I won't be shocked by anything they say---they are right.  I am also not a judgemental person so that makes me easy to confide in. Every body's stories are similar.  I can see both sides in most situations.  It's never one persons fault--in MOST cases.  Which leads me to my question.....is it worth it?

We all come into relationships with expectations and our own baggage.  Most of us start our marriages in our teens or  20s when we truly don't know who the hell we are.   While we are trying to figure that out we can be selfish.  Mean.  Controlling.  Jealous.  And patterns are formed.  "Well I'm not going to do A because she doesn't let me do B."  "No, you can't go out with your friends, I never get to go out with MY friends" people are afraid to give in too frequently for fear of being taking advantage of and communication breaks down.  Feelings are hurt, egos are bruised and walls are built.  After years of these behaviors, relationships become broken and sometimes irreparable.   Someone asked me "so how do you fix it?"  I said well one of you has to love enough to put their own feelings aside and check their ego at the door.  It's important to explain to your partner that you understand where they are coming from.  Tell them you know what you've done wrong.  It's not going to happen overnight, but eventually the change can happen.  But the other party has to be willing too.

It's possible.  It can happen.  But it takes a lot of work, a lot of prayer and a lot of work (yes, I know I said that already).  I feel like everyone is afraid to be alone.  So, people stay together for fear of being alone.  They stay together for "the kids".  The list goes on.  It's all bullshit.  And it makes for very unhappy people.  How is that good for the kids?  The day I realized I was finally going to get divorced was when I looked at my daughter and thought - "What kind of example is she getting?  What is she going to think a marriage looks like?"  That did it for me.  My sons have confirmed that life is much more peaceful and happy since the divorce.  I'm happy.  That makes my kids happy.  

People afraid to be alone.  Why?  If you don't like your own company, you have bigger issues than an unhappy relationship. OR maybe that's why your relationship is unhappy--you are looking for someone else to fulfill your every need---not gonna happen. Is it scary to do things alone after a lifetime of being with someone?  Yea it can be.  I was never not in a relationship since I was 16 years old.  It is weird.  But it's peaceful.  It makes me wonder if being single is better.  I do what I want, when I want with who I want.  I don't have to hear any crap from anyone about it.  It's nice.  A lot of my friends who are divorced are in new relationships.  Some are engaged to be married again.  At the beginning of the new relationship it was all sunshine and roses (literally, the roses--damn they all got a lot of flowers), being wined and dined and all the beautiful new beginnings that relationships bring.  And then reality sets in.  Old patterns are repeated.  Both people react to each other anticipating that the new partner is going to behave like their ex---it's just exhausting.  Is it worth it?  I don't think so.  At the risk of sounding like a bitter, cynical woman I will admit that maybe it's just because for the first time in my life I am not putting anyone else's feelings before my own.  I am learning to find my voice.  I am figuring out what I like and what I don't.  It's about damn time.  I am also learning how to say no without guilt.  It's an amazing feeling of freedom.  I think the longer I am alone the harder it will be to be with someone. Or maybe, I will figure out why all my past relationships have failed and I'll find the magic mix of loving someone so deeply yet not repeating the mistakes.  I'm realizing all the things that I did wrong in relationships---and trying to fix them.  So maybe, just maybe, one day I will feel differently.  Maybe I will feel that it IS worth it.   But in the meantime, I'm enjoying being alone (as alone as a woman with 3 kids can be lol)