Sunday, August 31, 2014


Friday's sick day went as planned, and the soup (and the down time) made enough of a dent in my illness that I was able to push it to the back of my mind and proceed with life as planned, even though that plan had two happy girls who chatted until 1am, and kept waking me up by doing so.  (At that point, I grabbed my daughter and demanded that she sleep in my bed.  Perhaps she was as tired as I was by that point, because she rolled over and immediately fell asleep.)

We all need to pause sometimes, and I'm finding that the transition between summer and fall is the perfect time to do so. 

I find slowing down difficult.  I want to do things to make my life the way I wish; I want to mold the clay of my days in order to form it into something beautiful, and not just into raw lumps.  But sometimes, I just have to sit back and stare at the clay, remembering what it looked like when it was all lumpy and unformed, and seeing how I've already shaped it, before I can get up the energy - and the courage - to keep reshaping it.

This fall is a big transition for Katherine, because she's entering middle school.  Media, friends, family, and total strangers tell us that these will be rocky years, that every middle schooler is a mean girl or a victim, that Katherine and I are destined to bang heads and feel resentful and angry at one another for the next five years.  I refuse to believe it.  Every single stage - the crying baby years, the tantruming toddler years, the cognitive shifts around age nine - I've been told "oh just you wait!" by those in the know, but for us, the truth has been different.  There was crying, there were tantrums, there was outright defiance....but we've worked through it.  I think we've done pretty well, actually.  Katherine is not immune to these things and I'm not always prepared to handle her when she's going through an awkward stage, and we haven't done it perfectly, but I think we've done pretty darned well and I intend to stay on the "pretty darned well" path.

So, this weekend, on the cusp of another big transition, out of summer and into middle school, I'm pressing pause, reflecting on where we've been an where we're going.

Back to school shopping - an entire day spent at a mall - is not my favorite thing to do, or Katherine's.  We'd rather be hiking, or on the beach, or on bikes.  She kept saying, "I'm a gymnast, not a shopper!"  Still, she's got a strong sense of fashion (in her own little way) and so having me choose things for her is not an option, and she's got such a slim build that she has to try everything on to make sure it will work with that build.  For us, shopping is fraught with tension: neither of us wants to be there, and there's the danger of disagreeing on choices, and I have a calculator in the back of my mind performing on overtime, freaking out about the costs.

Yesterday we went back to school shopping for eight hours.

But this time, we did well.  We ate French fries and drank lemonade, we got brownies from a booth, we went out to dinner (all treats, much appreciated by both of us).  We actually agreed on things to purchase (though I held up many, many, many items to hear a refrain of "no thank you" over and over).  Katherine didn't make me say no to items because of the budget, because she's learning a bit about how much things cost and she would look at the price and go "okay?" or sometimes even, "Look at how ridiculous that price is!  No way do I want that!"; at eleven, she doesn't want to be "sexy" so I didn't have to say "that's inappropriate" either.  I bought her a little whiteboard and some cute magnets for her locker, and she gave me a big hug.  We agreed that we wouldn't shop at Abercrombie (we don't support the views of the CEO, and that cologne that they blow through the store makes both of us gag) or Forever21 (because we don't agree with their labor practices).  We were pleasantly surprised to find that Katherine fits the smallest adult sizes at H&M, and that there was a shirt there that we BOTH wanted (I let her have it, with a smiling promise not to buy one for myself because being twinsies would be "soooooo embarrassing").

This morning, in my bathrobe, I'm pausing to reflect on the last day.  Like many days, the best was last.

We got home at 8pm, and carried our bags inside.  Katherine spread her new things - five shirts, three pairs of pants, boots, and a few accessories - across her bed to admire them, and I made us a pot of tea.  I lit the candles in the living room, and when the tea was ready I brought a tray in and we curled up on the sofa in our PJ's, each wrapped in an afghan, listening to the rain fall outside and sipping peppermint tea.  We talked about the fun things we'd do this fall, we talked about maybe pulling out the chess set again (neither of us is any good at chess, but it's fun).  We talked about the pumpkin patch, and we talked about a mountain town that we love visiting in fall because the fall leaves there are so gorgeous.  We talked about a place that Katherine wants to volunteer (an animal shelter) and tried to sort out where to fit that into the schedule.  We talked about our annual Halloween parties - the one we throw, and the one we attend.  We talked about doing another 5k together.  We talked about her upcoming gymnastics meet, and the auction I'm putting on for my nonprofit.  We both got sleepy, so we blew out the candles, said goodnight, and each curled up in our respective beds reading our respective books.

I can hardly believe my good fortune that this is my daughter.  Never mind that she finds it impossible to put her clothes in the hamper, or that I have to repeat myself three times only to hear "what?", or that she absolutely refuses to wear skirts or dresses except under duress, or that sometimes she takes five times longer than necessary to do her homework, or that in the morning when I wake her up with a "good morning, sweetheart" she is downright surly for the first half hour, or that at night she lollygags until it's way past bedtime every single night.  She's not perfect....and yet, she is perfection.  She's kindhearted, loyal, thoughtful.  She is a good student.  She's gentle with animals, children, and the elderly.  She's got a ridiculously funny sense of humor and more and more often she makes me belly laugh with her jokes and wordplay.  She's got a great sense of adventure.  She's responsible.  She makes good choices - about friends, food, school, activities.  She stands up for what she believes in, and does not waver in those beliefs, and lives according to her beliefs.  She's my partner for whale watching or hiking or housework, but she's also fiercely independent.

This is what pauses are good for.  I can sit here and reflect upon the good fortunes in my life - my daughter is my biggest blessing, no doubt there - and catch my breath.  I can see things as they are - filled with blessings. 

Thank goodness for a pause.


I did not do back to school shopping when I was a girl.  My mother came home with things that she told me were perfect, and I was expected to wear them.  My mother - whose personal style involves wearing swishy nylon sweat suits with silk blouses combined with Velcro sandals, and who loves bold colors and patterns (I tend for more neutrals), and who only shops the discount racks at discount stores, buying quantity over quality - would literally cry and say "Nothing I do is good enough for you!" if I gently said, "umm, Mom, that was really nice of you but this isn't my style...."  It gives me particular pleasure to take my daughter shopping in such a different way.

Loads of things to think about in that last paragraph.  More family of origin stuff to consider.  I believed that in order to be perfect - and it was important to be perfect! - not only did I have to wear the horrible clothes that my mother purchased, but I had to LIKE them and to be grateful to her for her choices and taste, and I felt like a failure for my inability to find pleasure in them, and for my resentment at having to wear them.  I felt responsible for my mother's happiness, because she had tantrums when I disagreed with her, literally crying merely because I said I disagreed.  I felt that my own feelings, tastes, ideas didn't really matter and that what mattered most to my parents was that I acted as if their ideas were perfect and that I agreed with every word that came out of their mouths, even though I adamantly disagreed with a great deal of the way they acted in addition to what they said.

Taking a pause from dating, men, and relationships - really choosing not to think about them or pursue their possibilities - has been important to me.  I'm focusing on different things, and I feel myself relaxing into those things.  Work, my daughter, my home, my friends are all priorities right now, and I realize that I'd been putting some serious pressure on myself to "figure it out" in the relationships department, believing that life is less-than if I didn't figure it out.  This pause has reminded me about how much of my life is wonderful, in no way diminished due to my single status.

As I write this, my daughter is singing in the background sort of absent mindedly, fussing around with the purchases from yesterday, pleased with them.  We're going to a movie with friends this afternoon at the local discount theater (we're finally seeing Maleficent).  We have to do a few chores - vacuuming, folding, groceries - first, and we're hoping to squeeze in a bike ride, too.  I hope to curl up with another book tonight, starting earlier so that I can read longer before I fall asleep.  Tomorrow there's a BBQ with friends where the kids will run wild in a pack while the adults drink wine and chat; when it's time to leave the kids will beg for "just one more hour!" because it will be the last hour of summer because school is starting.

Grateful today for the pause, this transition between seasons.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Sick Day

Well, I popped some ibuprofen, blew my nose, swallowed hard (past that weird scratchy lumpy feeling in my throat), and went to work.

Two hours later, having accomplished precisely nothing but staring bleary-eyed at my computer screen thinking "I have" I gave in and told my colleagues that I was going home because I was sick.  I grabbed a big fat file of things to do - because maybe I would feel better soon? - and left.

I stopped at the drugstore and picked up my prescription (unrelated to being sick, just a thyroid med I've taken for years, but being away from the office meant that I actually had a moment to swing by and get it), and I also picked up the September issue of Vogue, two boxes of tissues, and a couple "oops we're out of these" items.

I'm not going to get to that big fat file of things to do.

I've got five hours to be sick, and five hours in which to feel better.  At 6pm I'm picking up Katherine and her friend, and Katherine's getting her hair cut, and then we're going out for dinner together, and then there's a sleepover at my house.  Tomorrow when the friend goes home, Katherine and I are going back to school shopping, and I've got a marvelous day planned that includes catching a moving, getting frozen yogurt (Katherine) and a mocha (me), as well as picking up pants that actually reach my daughter's ankles and shirts that reach her wrists (because her summer growth spurt has been impressive).

For the next five hours, I will flip through Vogue, watch TV, and maybe (just maybe) nap.  I will eat soup, drink tea, and prop myself up on the sofa with pillows and an afghan.  In another hour, I'll take two more ibuprofens to see if perhaps the second round will make my headache go away.

Somehow, this feels luxurious.  Five hours in which I will do nothing but be quiet, with no self-pressure to improve myself, complete a house project, or accomplish anything.  Five hours in which nobody but my colleagues knows that I'm at home, and the phone won't ring, and nobody will come by.

There are dandelions blooming in the yard, but I'm not even a bit tempted to mow or weed.  There are fingerprints on the cupboard, and I'm not tempted to wipe them.  The work stack will remain untouched.

There's an up side to being sick, and this is it.  Might as well enjoy it, even if I must be semi-miserable while enjoying it, don't you think?


Sick day soup.  Takes about 10 minutes to make, plus extra cooking time.  I usually have these ingredients in my fridge/freezer/pantry anyway, so no shopping involved.  If I was taking a trip to the grocery store, I'd add bok choy.  This will make a lot, so you can serve it for dinner when the family comes home, too.  It's a bit like won ton soup, and it's my variation on chicken noodle soup.

1 bag Trader Joe's gyoza
1 onion
2 carrots
several cloves of garlic
2 stalks of celery (slightly wilted will do!)
box of chicken broth (4 cups, I think?)
handful of fresh parsley
sesame oil
soy sauce

Drizzle some olive oil in a soup pot and heat on medium high.  While the oil is heating, chop up an onion and throw it in.  While that's heating (stir every now and then), chop up the carrots and celery, and throw them in, too.  While that's cooking, mince some garlic and throw that in.  Once it's all together, dump in the bag of gyoza (or use rotisserie chicken, or whatever is in your fridge that sounds good) and brown them slightly.  When it's all lovely and fragrant and slightly browned, add the box of broth.  Set the timer for ten minutes, and let it all cook through.  Add in a handful of chopped parsley, and let it wilt.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Scoop out a big steamy bowl, and drizzle with a bit of the sesame oil (I like extra dark toasted sesame oil) and soy sauce.  Grab a magazine, head for the sofa, and slurp it up.

Totally worth the ten minutes in the kitchen, even when you're not feeling well.

I'll let you know if it cures me by 6pm!


P.S.  Being sick sucks.  But there has to be an up side.

P.P.S.  This is a manageable sickness - just a stupid bug that's going around, and I can manage.  If you're really sick - like MS or ALS or cancer - then please know that right now I'm thinking of you and wishing you health.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Ready for a change of season

I work really hard at trying to live in the moment, not wasting a second of my "wild and precious" life.  I think it's important to live in those small minutes, appreciating the life that is mine, that I fought so hard to keep when cancer tried to steal it from me.

And yet...

And yet I absolutely love the change in seasons, and I'm ready for autumn to come and woo me.

I have loved this summer, and it's been a summer of beaches: every possible minute has been spent on a beach, by the water, in the water.  When I am an old woman and twice as wrinkly as the other old women, I will remember this summer as the one in which I was deep golden brown, playing with the kids in my bathing suit.  An idealized version of this summer, true, but my tan lines are proof that there is some truth to it as well.

But I'm ready for the change in season, almost impatient for it, despite my intention to be present in the moment.

Lots of it is that I'm anticipating all of the changes that come with fall, preparing for them, slightly nervous about them, and I just want to jump right in and stop thinking about it.  My beautiful daughter is about to start middle school, and every person I meet seems to think that this harkens the beginning of some miserable years for the two of us, but I am determined to prove them wrong.  I'm excited to see the young lady that my daughter is becoming, and I'm excited to hear all of the new stories, and to launch this phase of our lives together.

Freshly sharpened pencils; fresh, clean binders; trips to the library; brightly colored papers announcing this and that.  I have always loved the beginning of school, and in my adult life it's no different.

And it's been a hot summer in my corner of the world, a few degrees above average, and I've enjoyed it, but it's time to cool off.  I'm ready for tights and boots, for scarves and sweaters.  I'm ready to hike in the fall leaves, to have an Oktoberfest bratwurst while listening to music that would otherwise make me cringe (but, once a year, makes me smile).  I can't wait to go with friends to the pumpkin patch, as we always do, and to launch pumpkins in the trebuchet, and to giggle at Katherine as she gets the biggest pumpkin in the field.  (Years ago, we came up with a tradition: she can have any pumpkin in the field as long as she can carry it all by herself.  She's very strong, and I think she trains all year to get a ridiculously large pumpkin.)

Back to routines, too.  I'm always trying to tweak my routine to improve it, and this year, like every other year, I have plans for improvement.  I will write more, do yoga, walk the dog even on days I don't run.

Summer is a time for splashing and happy shouting, for bright colors and bare skin, for outdoor gatherings and open doors and picnics three times a week.  Autumn is a time for productivity, new ideas, coziness, fresh starts.

I'm ready for the next change.  I feel it in the air, and it's more than just the cool undercurrents creeping in to the hot days, it's something in me, in my life.  I'm deeply enjoying not dating - sometimes, I think I enjoy my solitude too much, but I am trying not to judge it and just accept it.  But letting go of the idea of finding my one true love has allowed me to relax into other things, to tackle my life with new energy.

School starts on the first week of September, and I am ready.  Our unhurried summer schedule (Katherine has been sleeping in, playing with friends every day while I work) will be replaced by our busy one: from school and work to gymnastics and homework, and bedtimes will be enforced.  It's always a challenge, but I'm ready for it.

I feel a change coming in my life.  We'll see what it is, whether it's just a season or something more.  I'm more peaceful about my life than ever before, content with what is before me, and grateful for that contentment.  My restlessness has been replaced with something else I can't quite name yet.  Whether it's deeper peace, or something else.... I am hopeful that it's something wonderful.


On another note... My favorite nonprofit had an event this weekend that I was active in.  They're undergoing major changes on their board, and their executive director has announced that she'll step down in 1-2 years.  The number one name on the list of who will replace her  I can't see ahead that far, and there are both pros and cons to the idea, but I feel a glow of pride that this new career path is exceeding my expectations.  I'm working really hard at work, meeting with success, and so proud of the work I'm doing.  A year ago, I was in a panic trying to figure out how I was going to make my life work out, transitioning out of my unfulfilling job and into an unformed career, but now I feel steady and solid and valued and challenged....and wanted!  The leap of faith paid off, and I am living the results.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Muddling along

I'm muddling along.

I'm not in the deepdarkplace, but I'm not as joyful as I'd like to be, either.  I am muddling through, hoping for signs that I'm on the right path.

On Sunday, I hiked.  It's the best way for me to figure out what I'm doing, the best way for me to clear my mind.  I went alone, not including my big dog, as Katherine was at a sleepover birthday party where my services weren't needed.

I love hiking alone.  No talking, just lost in the views around me, the smells of the damp forest (it had rained the night before), birdsong, a million kinds of moss (speaking of which, I loved reading "The Signature of All Things" by Elizabeth Gilbert; if you've read it you'll know why I'm mentioning it now).  A tiny lake with little fish jumping; a log at the edge of the lake to sit upon and munch my PB&J (a lazy version of lunch) and fresh peach.

I brought my journal, and I wanted to write Big Thoughts that would clarify everything that I was feeling, but I had no further epiphanies.  My mind wandered to my vacation with my parents, to my marriage, to my present, to the future.  Complicated lives do not make for simple conclusions, and I did not have a grand epiphany.

But I did relax a bit, and I felt some of the tension ease.

I may be muddling, but I think I'm' muddling in the right direction.

It seems that whatever I do, I'm not in charge of what happens next: I mean, I can eat healthy food and exercise (or not), and I can be an attentive parent (or not), and I can work hard at my career (or not), and those things have a great impact on my future....but in matters of soul mates, I think it comes down to pure luck, and it happens when it happens (or not).

So, I will be alone, for now or forever, and I am learning peacefulness about it.  I'm thinking about what vulnerability means, I'm thinking about what being open means, and I'm thinking about what living in the moment means in the face of that.

I don't have the answers, and I'm thinking about learning to be okay with that.

Thinking about faith, grace, and trust.  Thinking about the universe's benevolence, my faith in myself, and the beauty of being alive to muddle through.  Wondering about God, hoping for some kind of grace, trying to trust the process of it all.

Don't run away from grief , o soul
Look for the remedy inside the pain.
because the rose came from the thorn
and the ruby came from a stone

I may only be muddling, but right now, I think that's enough.  Maybe it is even more than enough.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


I am feeling restless, and I'm not sure why, and I don't know what to do about it.

Lots of things are going right.  Life is pretty on track: healthy, Katherine is doing well, we just had a week of vacation in the sunshine on a boat, my career is moving forward, my home is comfortable and filled with the things we need, there's lots of friends on speed dial, I live in a beautiful part of the world where not only do I have clean drinking water and a lack of war, I'm also surrounded by sparkling seas and majestic trees and rich green.  My dog loves me, my cat makes me laugh, I've got a zillion books to read, good music to hear, lots of dreams and plans.

And yet, I feel an undercurrent that makes me uncomfortable.  All of that goodness in my life, and I still want more.

I want a lot more, actually, and I feel like a selfish ingrate for it.  So many blessings in my life, and so many in this world would likely give up almost anything to have the things that I do.  I see pictures of Gaza, Afghanistan, Syria, Missouri, Iraq, Sierra Leone, Russia, and I know how blessed I am.

I'm a white, educated, middle class woman with a great support network and equity in her house.  My daughter loves me and today, because she wasn't feeling well, I worked from home part of the day to be with her.  She started to feel better and decided to make cupcakes with ingredients we had on hand (I'm a firm believer that there should always be a pound of butter in the fridge for moments just like this - we bake from scratch around here.).  Everyone should be so lucky.

You get the point.  On planet earth, I think I'm in the 1%.  I've never had to walk to get water, except when I do it on purpose to rough it while backpacking.  I cook on a stove, not a campfire.  If the power went out, I could use my gas grill. When I hear a loud noise in my neighborhood at night, I think "What idiot is putting off fireworks in August?" and not "Oh no, guns!"

A lucky girl.  Even though my car is on the edge of dying, the house always needs work, money is tight, and I haven't been overseas in a decade and I need a haircut (it's been what, six months? more?) and I can't remember the last time I had a pedicure and I eat beans instead of meat sometimes because it's cheaper, I know how lucky I am.

And yet...struggling a bit.

This loneliness that I'm feeling is different than anything I've felt before.  When I was first separated, I felt the lack of Bryan, and the hole in my life where I thought he was supposed to be before it all fell apart.  But this hole isn't about Bryan at all, it is only about myself, the life I have created for myself.  I don't want him, or the marriage that I now realize was never very good.

My marriage was a train wreck.  I look back on it, and the girl I was, and the "rules" that I agreed to, and the way I walked on eggshells, and the lack of connection to my spouse and how I tried so hard to do the right thing, accept him as he was, compromise....and I feel lonely.  Lonely that I did not get what I worked so hard to create.

I feel lonely because I have never been loved the way I want to love and be loved, and because I do not know if I will ever find that kind of love, and I do not feel like I have any control over it.

I've pretty much given up on online dating.  A recent article about online dating in the NY Times ( ) was interesting, but it was this that caught my eye:
Mr. Finkel and Ms. Sprecher are part of a team that wrote a longer psychology paper, summarized on Science of Us, arguing this in greater depth. What a person might find attractive on a profile may have no correlation to what they find attractive in real life, the report says, and browsing profiles “fosters judgmental, assessment-oriented evaluations and can cognitively overwhelm users, two processes that can ultimately undermine romantic outcomes.”  

Yes, that about sums up my experience (and my blog post "Online Dating Makes Me Shallow.") It went on to say: "Matthew Kassel, writing for The Observer, found online dating similarly unsatisfying. It meant that his “lifetime date count had, like a strain of mutant amoebae, multiplied by more than sevenfold” as he “ricocheted from one woman to the next.” But very few of his encounters led to a second date, and the whole thing, he writes, “was starting to feel forced, perfunctory, dehumanizing and, yes, expensive.”"

In short, online dating isn't for me.  This in itself is not a huge revelation, but here's what is:

I realize that online dating was a crutch that made me believe that I could limp along and find my life partner there, hiding in the pixels of OkCupid, and that gave me a lot of hope in that variety of the future.  The crutch gone, I feel like I'm going to be alone forever, because I rarely if ever meet single men or put myself in a situation to meet single men.

So here I am, healthy, loved, safe in my comfortable home and with a beautiful daughter; educated, employed, and with a fridge full of food....and all of that seems shadowed by the thought that I may, indeed, never find soulmate love, romantic partner alignment, the joy of shared laughter during intimacy.

Very teenager-macabre sounding.  If one of my friends said this to me, I'd scoff.  I'd say, "Oh, give me a break, you're lovely and together and it'll happen when it happens, so just relax and enjoy the ride."

Telling myself this has not yet been helpful.


I keep thinking back to my vacation and the less-than-perfect family of origin stuff, too.  I've come by my problems honestly, and it is not a surprise to me now, having lived it, that the model of relationships of how men should treat me, taught by my father, led me to the wrong place.  I'm processing, trying to see it from different angles, trying to acknowledge it without letting anger or sadness consume me.  It is mostly in my past, after all, and what I do in the present can be more informed than what has defined me in the past.

But here's the rub:

I can run a half marathon, rework my whole job, be a career woman, take care of my daughter, find fun things to do, hike, write, read, volunteer at things that fill my heart.....and it doesn't fill up the hole that I feel growing inside of me, and that IS SO ANNOYING!

I want to work my way out of this.  I want to DO something to make it feel better.  I am willing to meditate, to exercise, to actively ignore, to confront, to discuss, to do whatever it takes to get rid of this feeling, but the bottom line is that I think I'm going to have to just wait it out, and patience is the thing that I do not do well.

I can do it all "right" and yet I can't change the feelings, and I can't force my life to create a partner of my choosing.  Do I have to just wait for this to pass?  I am not good at waiting.

So I'm trying to be patient with the idea, slowly owning the idea that I might be alone forever, that the things I've dreamed of may never come to fruition, and that I might need to be okay with that.

It doesn't sit well with me, though, and I want to figure out how to be an optimist in the face of those feelings.

If you've got the answers, drop me a line, will you?  Because I'm feeling really stuck, and I hate being stuck.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


I just got back from a week on a small boat with Katherine and my parents, rediscovering the islands of my youth from the vantage point of docks and marinas and resort pools.

It was wonderful: we saw my beloved J Pod (resident orcas) in all of their stunning beauty; we swam; we played.  I ran multiple times, up hills and on trails.  Katherine and I slept in a tiny room on the boat, giggling at our close quarters.  Mom and Dad treated to just about everything, and so I wasn't fretting about money.  (Next fret: my waistline.  Despite aiming for salads, there were a lot of French fries on this trip.)

But this one conversation between my father and I, as he walked me back to my car at the end of the trip, says a lot about my family dynamic:

Dad:  Look at that Westy camper.  You should get something like that! You'd love it!
Me: I've thought about it - it would be fun.
Dad: What, are you crazy?  Those things break down all the time!  What a stupid idea!
Me: Dad, I was being conversational.  I'm not going to get one, I just thought I'd agree with you that they sound fun.
Dad:  It's a terrible choice.  I can't believe you'd consider that.
Me: DAD!  I was holding polite conversation and AGREEING WITH YOU!  How can you be mad at me for agreeing with the idea that YOU brought up?  I'm not buying one.  I just think they're fun!  I looked into it once and I agree I won't get one, but I liked the idea of it.
Dad: What a stupid idea.
Me: I can't win!  I agreed with you and now you think I'm stupid!
Dad: You're too sensitive.  Lighten up.  I can't believe you'd want a Westy.  Stupid.

Some variation of this conversation, on a number of topics, came up a lot.  I did a lot of deep breaths.  Some things I let go.  Some things (like this) I tried to verbally defend myself.

It's crazy making.  Is it any wonder that I signed up for a crazy marriage?  For me, it was NORMAL that someone acted like this: one minute sweet and kind, the next telling me I'm stupid.  One minute telling me he's proud of me, the next belittling me.  One minute friendly, the next mean.  It was an unpredictable way to grow up, and I learned how to manage it.

The definition of dysfunctional.

It is not a surprise to me that I can't figure men out, that I have many close women in my life but very few men.  It is not a surprise to me that I can't let a man in.  Post epiphany, it seems like the biggest "well, duh" moment.


This trip, I had a great time, aside from those stupid parent moments with my dad.  My daughter was great, the weather divine, the islands particularly beautiful.

But somewhere 2/3 of the way through, loneliness crept in.

Boating families are wonderful.  They work together in small spaces, they have adventures together, they work as a team.  They spend time laughing and sharing an interest.  I saw many wonderful families....headed in every case by a loving couple.   I was surrounded by loving couples and families headed by loving couples, and I was the solo woman.

On the last night, there was a giant boat that set up a party in the back....complete with a band.  (Our boat could have fit inside their boat.)  The band was three single men in maybe their late 50s, all attractive.  Women came out of nowhere to flirt with them, and these women looked a bit hard, a bit brassy around the edges.  The married women at the marina wore cute sundresses and striped tops with shorts and flip flops, but these women had lace and off-the-shoulder and was a bit off.  I watched two of them get invited on board and disappear inside.

It didn't look attractive, or interesting, and I didn't want any part of it.

It made me feel lonely, and yet uninterested in dating....a strange juxtaposition.


As I sat on the rocks at a state park watching orcas cavort in front of me, so close that we could hear their breath, see their saddle patches, I wanted to lean into someone to share the moment.  My beautiful daughter was having a mermaid moment and had climbed out on the rocks, closer than anyone else to the orcas, and was having her own moment, as a tween should....and I wanted someone to turn to, to say "isn't this incredible?" and to lean on, to squeeze hands, to catch eyes.  There were others around me, but they were strangers, and I didn't want a stranger.

I am prepared to settle into being alone, working on my career, my mothering, running, playing at things I love to play at (hiking, camping, writing, reading, and more).

But it's unsettling, this loneliness.

I haven't thought about my family of origin craziness very much in the past decade, as consumed with cancer and divorce as that decade has been.  I wish I wasn't thinking of it now, but it's getting in the way of what I want for myself and so it's rising out of the shallows, where it's been all along, and I must face it.

I don't like feeling lonely.  I like feeling alive and fresh and vibrant, and living in that way.

I will wait for the loneliness to pass.