Overwhelmingly Overwhelmed?

Have you ever just had a day, where you feel the weight of everyone else’s world on your shoulders? Where you don’t know where to look or who to help or what to do, so the easiest thing to do is close the curtains and pretend you aren’t home? Uh huh. You know you have.

And the thing is, it’s not one or two big things. It’s more a culmination of many many many MANY little things. Sprinkle in a few big bombshells and BOOM, that crushing feeling is upon you. Divorces, family members not speaking to other family members, (some family members just fine with never speaking to a certain other family member again), affairs, lost loves, bankruptcy, cancer, alcoholism, recovery, friends struggling with friends, friends struggling with family, lost friendships, lost spouses, lost pets, children sick, weight loss, weight gain, kids struggling in school, with friends, with peers, with boyfriends or girlfriends…..OMG, I could seriously go on longer and that’s just in the past week!!!!!

This is the overwhelming part for me. And I have cried on enough shoulders and vented enough to my family and friends that I owe them my shoulder in their time of need. At least my shoulder. A few of them need me to call the divorce lawyer and pack up that spouse and kick them out. A few need me to get a shovel and a rural (unfrozen) parcel of land and start digging, if ya know what I mean. The fixer in me wants to wave my magic wand, sprinkle some fairy dust and make those impossibly difficult, narcissistic, egomaniac, selfish people into decent normal human beings. But I can’t do that and watching them struggle with this idiotic spouse/friend/person can be overwhelming.

High school kids are hard enough to deal with on good days. When they get mean for the sake of being mean, and hurtful for the sake of being hurtful, what can you do as parent? Most of the time they don’t want you involved anyway. So it gets tricky sometimes. But when the meanness causes your child to weep, do you step in? When and how do friends become enemies? It’s sad and overwhelming.

No matter how hard you try to be optimistic, or looking for the silver lining, what do you do when it’s hard to find? For the parent who finds their child suffering, suggesting they look on the bright side seems callous. What bright side? But do you allow it to make you become withdrawn? Bitter? Angry at the world? Or do you try to be a friend and walk a tightrope of not knowing what to say? A friend found out her daughter has cancer. How do you comfort them, especially when she wants to push everyone away? I don’t know how to help. It’s heartbreaking and overwhelming.

So how do you handle it? No really, I’d love to know. For me, I’m thankful today is a barre day, because even thought my triceps are still sore from Tuesday, I’m gonna work the hell out of them today! It’s gonna be a “sweat dripping off my nose” kind of work out. I know that I can’t be the fix it person to anyone but me. I can lend an ear, a shoulder, support. But I can’t fix it. Great lesson learned in Al Anon is that I can only be in charge of me and my behavior. No one can change someone else. You can try, but then you’re just manipulating. You don’t want to do that, do you? Cuz that’s just not nice. So I’m going to try to focus on me and what I need (this is the year is ME, right?) and I’m going to go work out. And I’m going to remember this:

Just try to be a good person. That’s enough. ~~ The Dalai Lama

Namaste

Load

Inner Strength

It’s that time of year when thoughts go to Christmas decorations coming down, resolutions for the new year come to mind, what your “word of the year” or theme will be be. Reflection. Changes. Decluttering. Reorganizing. (And you know how I love to declutter!)

But this year, as I was contemplating all of this, I had a slightly different take on it. Yes, I still want most of the crap in my basement gone. I’ll be working on that slowly this winter. Yes, I want to lose more weight, gain more muscle, and get Linda Hamilton arms. Yes, I want to find my inner zen more easily in times in difficulty or stress. Find my breath.

I want to also let go. I want to let go of things that weigh me down, both physically and mentally. I want to start each day with a positive intention and carry it through my day, no matter what is thrown at me. I’m not trying to be unrealistic. Everyone has a bad day. Or two. Or 10. But I want to find a way, if I can, to not get bogged down with stress, or misfortune, or just general unhappiness. I want to look at it in a different way.

What can I do to change it? Make it better? Because that is all that is my power. I can’t change someone else or their situation. I can fix me. I can fix my outlook. I can change my reaction. I can change what comes out of my mouth (which has got me in trouble more than a little!) and I can certainly change my perception.

So what weighs us down? A bad relationship that you know is not serving you and your interests anymore? Are you staying for the wrong reasons with a friend, a spouse, a lover? Are you spending more time bitching about this person instead of finding ways to improve it? Can you admit your part in it to help you find closure? That’s a tough one! It’s so much easier to place all the blame on the other person, but does that really help you feel better when you close your eyes at night?

Finding out what you need, what you really truly need, and then making that happen is what you can control. And what a wonderful feeling. Sometimes, the only thing you can control is your own breath. The world feels like it’s falling apart all around you and the only thing you can do for those first few moments is breathe. My yogi tells us to listen to our breath. Listen to it. Control it. Slow it. Regain your footing. When you feel you’re on solid ground, then start over. But you’ll have a harder time regaining your own footing when you’re relying on someone else for that. Trying to hold on to the broken friendship, the crumbled marriage, the relationship you thought was going somewhere turned out in the light of morning to not be what you hoped it would be. What then? Do you blame the friend, the spouse, for their failure in making you happy?

The guilt that comes with letting go of those relationships can be overwhelming too. We try and try and try to make it work. We don’t want to give up on years of that friendship. Or think we should stay in a marriage for the kids. Don’t we lose ourselves in that process? I’ve spoken before about the great loss I went through losing a friend of decades and how I didn’t know how to cope, how to deal and move forward. It seriously was harder than my divorce. More tears were shed, more sleepless nights, more self doubt and constant questioning shouting in my head. I couldn’t make her take me back. I couldn’t make her want me in her life. I couldn’t make her see how completely devastated I was. But through all that, I learned how to find myself that I had lost.

This year, this year is about finding my inner strength. Mind, body and spirit. I’m going to push myself to do things I never would have thought to try. I’m going to do things I always wanted to do but was afraid to. (Maybe time for my tattoo on my shoulder??) I’m going to allow myself to be a bit selfish. To think of what I want, what I need, and making it happen. I’m going find my inner zen. It’s going to be a challenge, and it’s going to stretch me out of my comfort zone as a people pleaser and a habitual “fixer”. And I’m thankful for 2014 teaching me that I can’t fix anyone but me. And what a waste of time it has been to try.

Namaste.

Balance

100

This day took much longer to arrive than I first envisioned it. I thought it would happen by last summer at the latest, but here we are, the first full week of March 2014! Wow. And in it’s own way, it caused me to delay another few days because I had to really think and narrow it down.

This is my 100th blog post. I feel like the elementary school kid on his “100 days of school” project, with 100 M&M’s. Oooooo, M&M’s. No! Not on the “it’s almost spring” plan. So many amazing, wonderful, exciting, scary, sad, and joyful things have happened in the past 100 posts.

I started my blog January 1, 2013. I had so much encouragement before I even started from friends who kept saying “You should write a blog”. I had never even contemplated it before. So I dove in. What did I have to lose? Well, as it turns out, a lot.

Part of who I am is always on my sleeve, which is why I thought doing this would be easy. I tell people what I think, I try to be tactful but it doesn’t always work out that way, and I am loyal (to a scary fault) to my friends. But if you hurt me, or my kids, or my family, the gloves are off. I regret that in some instances. I don’t in others. I found myself struggling more often than not on how to express myself through my blog, which just seemed strange and foreign to me. And the more I struggled with it, the more I fretted over it. Vicious cycle.

So some days I would write, and delete the whole thing before I published. And then I would cry out of frustration. (Everyone here knows I can cry at the drop of a hat right? Yep. Kleenex commercials used to get me every.single.time. It’s the curse of someone who is too touchy feely and emotional, but it’s also part of why you always know where you stand with me) Over the past 100 posts I’ve tried to get myself to forgive myself over not having the perfect blog, gaps in the days and imperfect sentence structure/punctuation/grammar/run-on-sentences/over-use of parenthesis (but I really LIKE using parenthesis because it makes me feel like I’m actually talking to you instead of just writing. Like a little sidebar in our conversation.)

There have been so many changes over the past 100 posts. I started yoga last spring and love it more every week. I have lost weight, I have been able to do things I never thought my middle aged un-bendy body could do and even with some of my limitations from my surgeries, I have learned that I can try. If I can’t do it, oh trust me, I get very frustrated with myself and then spend 5 minutes trying to get it out of my head that I couldn’t do it, but I tried. Some of the muscles in my legs may never work the way they should. But I can try. I can modify. I’m doing something I never thought I would do and that’s pretty amazing in itself. I have one of my closest friends to thank for the push to go and I have made some new friends with an amazingly strong group of women who do nothing but encourage and cheer each other on. Simply life altering and such a blessing.

I have had friends who got married (for the “next time”, cuz really, at our age, do we need to count? No!) and some who got divorced. Sometimes it’s for the better, sometimes it was blind-sided agony. I think one thing I have learned over the past 100 posts is that at our age, for our generation, it is ok to be happy. I’m not advocating divorce. I’m not saying that vows taken shouldn’t be held to the highest standard. You said you would take that person to be your spouse for your life, you said it in front of friends, family and God. It’s not something to be taken lightly. I also believe that friends, family and God want you happy. Sometimes there are circumstances that are out of your control. Things happen. Sometimes, things don’t happen, or change or grow.

I’ve seen my oldest son grow and flourish and become the wonderful man I knew was in there. He just needed to let him come out from the shadow of the frat boy. I think men take longer at this than women do. But now that he has, my heart just bursts with pride over him and how amazing he continues to be. The youngest has grown into a young man with a job, and a kid who makes me laugh daily. He has the heart of a gentle giant. His struggles with school I have documented over the past 100 posts and it continues to be such a hurdle for him. It breaks my heart. He tries harder than most kids with little to show of it. And let me give a bit of advice if I may. All kids who have learning disabilities do not have signs stapled to their foreheads. It does not mean he is not intelligent. It does not mean he will not be successful. It means he learns outside the box. Just because he is not in AP classes or on the honor roll does not mean he is below your child. That makes me so angry.

My horrible, awful, please-why-won’t-they-just-MOVE-already neighbors are still here and some how managed to get out of yet another foreclosure proceeding. I seriously don’t understand it. How many times does this have to happen? Oh, and in case you were wondering, as of this writing, yes, yes they do still have Christmas decorations up. In March. Sigh. I have resigned myself to the fact that I will be moving before they do. Oh, did I mention that I am now on our HOA Board? Yea. Yea I am.

 

I am hoping to hit my 200th blog before the end of this year. I am thankful to all my followers from all over the world. I am thankful to the people who have contacted me through email, through Facebook, through the blog, that I have impacted them in some way. Please keep the feedback coming. I love it. And I love you for reading this. Here’s the next 100!! CHEERS!!!!  

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Growing up, never giving in, rising above

Something happened yesterday that has made me think. And get angry. And sad. And ultimately, thankful.

I was told by someone I used to know a long long time ago that I’m not the same girl I used to be in high school. In the context it was given, it was meant as an insult. And I was insulted, so point taken. Congratulations. But it also made me think about how she is absolutely right and I am thankful I’m not.

In high school, as I have mentioned before in this blog, I was a complete rebel. In a Catholic high school, it doesn’t take much to be a rebel, so I guess comparatively speaking, I don’t know how much of a rebel I truly was.  However, I did some pretty wild and crazy and utterly stupid things. I rejected everything “establishment”, I couldn’t wait to go my own way, do my own thing, live how I wanted to live, be who I wanted to be. If that meant living out of my car for a few weeks or staying on a friends couch, so be it! I could go with the wind baby!!!

After graduation, I went to OSU and quickly realized that I was less than nothing there. I was a blip on the screen. No one knew if I was in class or not. No one was looking for me at the library. Friends from high school lived on campus. I lived at home. I felt like I didn’t fit there, and in retrospect, I didn’t try to fit there. I should have. I could have. But I didn’t.

And so different options came up. After living wild and seriously crazy for a few years, I wound up married. And I’m going to be brutally honest because, well, it’s MY blog, I did it because I was tired of living the life I was and I thought, well, guess this is better than not doing it. That is no reason to get married. Ever. As much as I hate him now, I can honestly say I don’t think I ever loved him. He was a means to an end. He was a way out.

He was also one of the biggest assholes known to man. With the exception of Rob being born, he was the biggest mistake of my life. No woman, friend or foe, should have to endure what I did. Controlling. Beatings. Degrading. Menacing. Did I say controlling? Yep. Have I mentioned before how he threw me down an entire flight of stairs while I was pregnant? How when I tried to leave after that, he literally ripped wires from my car so I couldn’t go anywhere? How I ran, barefoot in the snow, pregnant, to a friends house to stay until he calmed down? Have I relayed how I showed up at my parents house with a black eye, cut swollen lip, bruises everywhere and begged them to not make me go back there? The divorce papers were filed the next day. Rob was 3. He didn’t need to see that growing up. He couldn’t be the next punching bag. 

THAT changes a person. That changes you to the core of who you are. That fundamentally alters your psyche, your outlook, your perception of what is going on around you. To this very day, I can not stand the smell of cigar smoke. That bastard used to hold me down, and straddle me and blow that smoke in my face til I gagged and cried. Then he laugh, or slap, or spit at me and let me up. So, don’t mind me when I go to another room or leave when the cigar’s start coming out. It’s not you, it’s me. 

I could continue on and on, but I won’t. Let’s just stop the examples of transformation in my mid 20’s. Am I the same person as I was in high school? No way. In less than than 10 years from graduation, I had permanently changed. But I think part of that is also maturity. We mature as we grow older, no matter how good or bad those years are. We learn, we adapt, we start seeing outside of our own little world and realize the enormity of everything around us. We try to find like-minded AND opposing viewpoint friends to help us continue to grow and see things differently. And we don’t have to agree, but we can certainly learn a thing or two about civility. We can disagree without name calling or personal attacks. Isn’t that the way to grow in a positive direction?

I think of who I was in high school, and that girl is still here. But she’s wiser. And older. And has seen things, done things, lived through things I hope you never know. So even though I’m still jamming out to some killer 80’s music (and oh, I do. I do.) and I wish I had the body I used to have, I’m jamming out knowing some of the lyrics mean something completely different now than they did back then. But I’m still smiling.

 

So many topics, so little time

On days where I struggle to come up with a topic to blog about, I usually start writing and the topic comes from there. I edit, delete, add, rearrange before I publish it. But days like today, where I haven’t blogged for a few days, I feel like I have too much to say but all the jumbled random thoughts put together would make for a confusing blog post!

But then it struck me! 

A friend who is a phenomenal blogger (check her out at: http://www.risingwoman.wordpress.com ) did something today that made sense for what I was doing. She won an award for her blog, and in accepting it, she had to blog 7 things about herself. That’s awesome! Not only did I learn more about her, but I was a great way to tie together 7 random thoughts. 

So I’m going to make a list too. Here are my random thoughts today.

1. Taking Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Peace University” is opening my eyes a different way of looking at money, debt, retirement and savings. I’m so glad we are taking his course. 

2. After taking a Barre class on Monday, it has taken me until today to successfully walk up or down stairs without wincing in pain. Mad mad props to all the dancers out there who do this stuff daily! Good grief! I hope class next Monday is better! Maybe I’ll be able to walk after 2 days instead of 3? 

3. Michael gets to go to Santa Barbara on business and I don’t get to go and it makes me sad! I would not and could not leave Ryan alone for a week, I can’t afford the airfare for Ryan and I to both go, because if I could, I would pull him out of school in a heartbeat and we could go! But sadly, no (see #1). 

4. Our country is falling apart around us and right in front of our eyes and instead of doing something about it, everyone is pointing fingers, blaming the other guy, blaming the other company, blaming ANYONE but them. I wish both sides would stop the fighting, find common ground and get this train back on track. When a national newspaper (not a conservative paper by any means) is reporting that 80% of the country feels we’re on the wrong path, there’s a problem. But that’s also common ground. What can we 80% bind together and fix?

5. We are going to the Ohio State v Penn State football game Saturday, along with a dinner with the Buckeye Club prior to the game. I’m so excited to go that I wish it was Saturday right now! And NO, Ryan is not to be here while we are gone. NO parties will be occurring or I might call the cops on him like those other parents just did. No. Parties. At. My. House. When. I’m. Gone. 

6. Another sweet friend of mine had surgery last week and I have just thought about her almost constantly. I had the same type of surgery she did a few years ago and I know the pain associated with it, the helplessness you feel while recovering, and the frustration of having the will to do something but not the ability. All I can tell you sweetie is that every day, you will get better, stronger and one step closer to recovery. I love you bunches. 

7. I was going to blog about my ex family. That would include my EX husband, my EX mother inlaw, my EX sisters in law and my EX husbands EX wife (Yes, the man managed to find someone else to marry and then divorce after me. Yea, he’s a real winner.) But I’ve decided in doing this blog post that the stupidity that they have displayed over the past week deserves their own post. So that will wait for tomorrow. Get ready to pull up a chair and enjoy this juicy bit of garbage drama. 

That’s 7. Not 7 things about me, but for sure 7 things I think were blog worthy. Maybe you did learn something new about me after all? 

Trying to Date Again……..

I was talking with a friend yesterday who I hadn’t been able to catch up with for awhile. We’ve both been busy and it seemed like when I had time to spare, he didn’t and when he did I was in the middle of something. And this is important to understand because when we talk, it is serious marathon talking sessions. Like hours. We have both actually killed our cell phone batteries talking on the phone for hours before. It seems to be very difficult for us to have a 5 minute quick catch up call. So carving out time is essential.

He is recently divorced and thinking about getting back out there. It’s a little scary to put yourself out there after years of married life. Whether we like it or not, times are different. We’re not in our 20s and the bar scene just isn’t cool anymore. Actually, I don’t like the bar scene at all. I mean, it just seems like a trap to me now. I’m sure I’m quite alone in this, but you go to a place where you spend way more money for a beer or wine or whatever, plus you have to tip, plus you have to then get in your car and drive! Skanky guys and girls are trying to pick each other up with their alcohol fueled hormones raging. The music is so loud you have to shout so the person right next to you can hear you, and after saying “What??!!!????” two times, you just nod and agree even though you still have no idea what was just said. You know I’m right. 

Anyway, that’s just not a good scene for anyone in their 40s. It looks sad, desperate, pathetic. I think that’s why so many dating websites have popped up. People our age should not be going to a bar for a one night stand. Didn’t growing up in the 80s teach you anything??? There is way too much ICK, and you’re never going to find a nice guy or girl in a dark skanky bar. A nightclub is fun on those rare occasions when a friend is getting married (or remarried) and the girls want to go get their dance on. There are several local bars that also have complete outside areas with their own bars, maybe a live band, but plenty of seating away from the noise if you want to actually hold a conversation. So I give them a thumbs up too. No bar in a shopping strip. No bar that is just a bar with a jukebox, old cracked bar stools and the bartender calls out your name cuz you’re there at least once a week. (Tuesday night girls night out anyone???)

He is really struggling with the “where can I meet a nice girl who might actually want a relationship?” while juggling a job, the visitation schedule with the kids and taking care of his house. It’s a lot harder than it used to be. It’s not all about those cute dating site commercials where they’re holding hands on a roller coaster (even though they probably shouldn’t be ON a roller coaster unless he took his blood pressure medication that morning) or running your shopping cart into some hot chick in the produce department and then you end up married 6 months later. That doesn’t happen.

My advice to him was it will happen when it happens. Not very helpful right? But it always seems that someone pops into your life when you least expect it, or at least aren’t looking for it. So I told him this will change when he starts focusing on himself and not looking for someone all the time. When you’re happy with yourself, and comfortable in your own shoes, it seriously puts off that “attraction vibe” and people are drawn to you. So focusing on your own happiness solves 2 problems!

Just don’t find your happiness in a bar. It never ends well………   

Thoughts and a recipe

I wanted to give a little light-hearted thoughts on a few things, and then give a recipe, cuz I haven’t done that yet.

I just have to comment on my 2 shows, RHoNJ and RHoOC. Wow, are they both train wrecks, which is why I can’t stop watching them. Let’s start with NJ. Teresa is just simply a whack job. I think we all have met people in our lives that will not take responsibility for their actions….EVER. Well, that would be Teresa. She acts like nothing is her fault, everyone around her is to blame and she is Miss Innocent. I have known people like her and here’s my advice…..RUN!!! Run far far away!! You will feel like you are in a constant state of competition, you are never right, and everything wrong with the world is your fault. Who wants to be around people like that?? As the show ended, Teresa’s brother and husband (should be her ex because the guy is a complete scumbag! I mean, if I ever heard my husband calling me the **C** word??? Forget it. Divorce papers will be delivered to your new apartment buddy) actually fighting each other because of her and her innocent act. I mean, like punches being thrown, on the ground fighting. When a relationship gets that bad, it’s time to call it quits. Joe (her brother) and Melissa need to move, get her out of their lives and go on to some normalcy.

But speaking of someone who never admits fault is Vicki on RHoOC. Holy crap is this woman just annoying. I love the show, I love watching the dysfunction, but seriously Vicki, for someone as smart as you are, you’re really clueless. I think every woman at some point in her life can live without a man. I mean, you grow up, mature and are able to handle life without a guy there if that’s where you wind up. (I’m not trying to turn this back to divorce, I’m just saying, you play what you’re dealt sometimes, right?) She is just coming off another divorce and has to go right to man who clearly has been using her, he’s gross and he’s everything she always claimed she hated in other men. All so she won’t be “alone”?? Seriously?? Grow up. People would have so much more respect for you if you could show the world that you can be strong, independent, successful AND alone! You are giving young girls the wrong impression Vicki. Shame on you.

I love these shows though. LOVE THEM!!! If anything, it shows that behind the rich pearly gated communities, they are more messed up than we mere middle class housewives are! And we thought we had drama here in Genoa Township! Ha!! Here everyone just knows everyone else’s business!

Now, for a great recipe!! This is one of my favorite cookie recipes for cutout sugar cookies. It’s almost no-fail. But cutout cookies are time consuming, so this is not the recipe for when you are in a rush. Enjoy!!

Chrissy’s Go-To Sugar Cookie Cutout Recipe

4 C Flour
1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/4 Tsp Salt
1 C Unsalted Butter, very soft
2 C White Sugar
2 Large Eggs, sat out to room temperature
1 Tsp Pure Vanilla

Heat oven to 350. With a butter knife, mix flour, baking powder and salt together in mixing bowl. Cut through with several to thoroughly combine. Set aside.

In Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until it starts to get fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, thoroughly mixing between eggs. Add pure vanilla and mix. With mixer set on low, add flour mixture slowly, until just combined. DO NOT OVERMIX.

Divide dough in half and place each half between 2 pieces of parchment paper. Softly flatten with roller to a large disk or rectangle shape. Wrap in each disk or rectangle in plastic and refrigerate 30 minutes. Roll to 1/8″ thickness. Return back to refrigerator for 15 minutes still between the parchment. Set dough on flat surface. Remove top parchment sheet, cut out cookies. Place on cookie sheet 2″ inches apart, although they should not spread much. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven before they start to brown. Adjust time according to your oven. Roll unused dough between parchment until all dough is used.

Cool completely before decorating.