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Solo-Parenting; What Solo Feels Like

walkingI’ve been darn lucky to raise such a really good kid.

I spent a lot of days worrying about how I would put food on the table, afford medicine when he got sick, and whether or not I was doing all I could to give him what he needed.

I stayed home for so many sick days I thought I’d lose my job. I stayed up late cooking and putting loot bags together for Hallowe’en parties and Valentine’s day parties, and Santa surprises. And I loved every single minute I’ve had with my child.

As one of my older and wiser gal-pals told me one day while I was laying like a beached whale on the sofa, pregnant and sick, “Guilt will be a constant for you once this baby is born. You’ll feel guilty about everything. You’ll always think you can do better.”

I remember thinking that I wish she would just shut up. I remember thinking that all of these little nuggets of wisdom were huge warning signs during what should be the happiest time of my life. But they were right. As a mother, you never stop worrying that your child is happy, warm, well-fed and as they get older, not being a little shithead.

Becoming a mother was the single-most amazing and terrifying thing that ever happened to me. I felt strong and  fierce and terrified and vulnerable all at the same time.

So here we are, on the cusp of having this child officially become an adult, and it’s all been worth it.

Luckily both parents get along as well as possible, and I believe we’ve provided him a good solid foundation for making decisions and embracing life.

Friends have been a wonderful support, surrounding my son and I with time, listening ears and rounds of congratulations.

But as a single parent even moments of joy and success have been bittersweet. For the most part, I attend all of his activities alone.  I feel great pride, joy and a sense of accomplishment with no one really to share it with. Information about new opportunities comes and goes, and at the end of the day, it’s on my own that I wonder about them, rationalize, hope and dream for my child. There is no partner to turn to for another perspective.

What I have learned during the past few months is that not only have I done my best as a parent, but I’ve done well in general, helping my child make decisions that will hopefully result in greater happiness and success for him.

You will walk home from first days of school with no one to reassure you that they will be ok. You will send them out on their first time away from home, watch them perform in plays, the band, sports, on their first date, taking the car for the first time, with yourself being the only cheering section.  You will do this alone, with no one to witness these passages from child to adult. Sharing great joy is what makes joy so wonderful.

If you are on your own I have two pieces of advice; don’t second guess your intuition when it comes to what’s right for your kids, and don’t settle for good-enough. It’s all worth it. Every single minute that you worry and wonder, and spend alone.

 

 

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Christmas: The Perfect Time to ‘Find Yourself’

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What you see is what you get.
I had an interesting conversation tonight. Interesting in that I’ve heard it a zillion times from a zillion people; “I’m finding myself”.

Which, by virtue of the ability to be found, means that some element of oneself, was, indeed, thought to have been  lost.

After very little thought, and perhaps a dash too much  judgement, I came to the conclusion that those who have felt lost were not lost, but sold.

Sold as in; sold the big ol’ American dream. They have bought into the who, what, where, when and why of existence as deemed necessary by our completely make-believe economy. After all darlings, Just like Saint Nick, if you believe, it must be real.

Someone pass my wine….

What I think ‘finding’ one’s self truly means is that people find themselves in an unexpected solitude. Finally they have the space and time necessary to contemplate  mundane aspects of their life which have previously been taken for granted.

Daily routine for instance, or whether or not they like a certain type of music, sex, or art.

Finding oneself is often accomplished in the reflection of solitude against companionship; the interaction between contemplation and practice.

Finding oneself in the moment is all that there really is. What better time to practice than Christmas time, when we are often time and energy stretched and prone to  participate in more social interaction?

The present moment is where you will always find yourself. And you rarely find yourself the same way twice. Learning this will help you honour who you  are in each precious moment, in each exchange of energy with your colleagues, friends, relatives and lovers.

This is where your mask slips, allowing you see your reflection, frowning or smiling just as you are. Who you are is who you are, in each, precious moment.

 

 

 

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Advent Challenge: The Life-Changing Power of Small-Talk

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What better place to start a conversation than in a long Christmas-shopping-season line-up?
The season of Advent is upon us. A season of darkness and stillness, awaiting the mystery to unfold.

 

Hell, if that’s what it’s about, I think perhaps I’ve been living a lifetime of Advent!

It’s strange and wonderful how conversation and communication work.

I remember being a little girl and hanging off my grandmother’s shirttails, head thrown back, eyes lolling at a great and dangerous sarcastic angle, whining, “Come oooooo-ooooon! Mom!”, while she jabbered away to someone.

When I was younger I used to think that long, winding conversations were pointless.  Much like advent, impromptu conversations can be ever so revealing about our own hopes and dreams.

Exposing your ideas and dreams to concrete language can be the first step to creating a new reality for yourself.

Once upon a time a poet-mentor of mine asked if he could read some of my poetry aloud to me. I felt reserved and shy at first. He knew that hearing my own words spoken would be a very powerful experience. And it was.

More than once I’ve had a conversation with someone I don’t know so well and then ask myself where the heck that came from. Engaging in conversation with a diverse cross section of ages, genders and intellect is a wonderful way to get to know yourself.

For instance, tonight I had an unexpected and rather lengthy conversation with a gentleman who worked with my mumster (he thinks she’s the cat’s meow). We discussed his career, the professional acquaintances we have in common, his semi-retirement and subsequent move. That lead to a review of my C.V., and some of my dreams for the future.

As only perspective from someone older, more experienced and wiser can do, the conversation really shed some new light on what my future might hold. If only I have the courage to pursue it.

One thing that I’ve learned in my lifetime is that you have to ‘put it out there’. In other words, whatever it is that you want, that you crave, that gets you excited to get out of bed in the morning; you need to talk about it with everyone and anyone who will listen.

It’s not what you know darlings, it’s who you know. The person next to you in line at the coffee shop may know someone who knows something about what you’re dreaming of.

Put it out there. Give a friendly hello, and start with the dreaded small talk. Just talk to people.

Wake up with intention and do something about it. Research. Ask Questions. Go do it.

This Advent season, let the mystery of what’s holding you back from the life you desire, unfold in your every-day interactions with the people around you.

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Come Out Come Out Wherever You Are: Reflecting on the Past to Enhance Your Future

dreamscometrueI know a thing or two about grief. More often than not as of late, it’s been an exasperating, Charlie-Brown-sigh of, “Good grief”! This followed of course by in-my-own-mind muttering and long hot baths serenaded by my favourite crooners with copious amounts of wine. Admittedly, extreme levels of got-her-Ire-up call for tea as the hot Irish blood runs quick through these old veins.

Grief often makes people think of death, dying and final good-byes, but the reality is different the majority of the time. Loss without a death is more common and treated with less respect. Often it’s not recognized at all.

Sometimes it’s a loss of a relationship, and all of the hopes and dreams you had of your future together; partner, child, or career. Hmm…let that loll in your wee little mind for a while. It can be loss of all the wonderful things your body used to do but will no longer let you, or a lifestyle that no longer meets your needs, perhaps it’s even an aspect of your personality that got lost somewhere in adult-responsibility-land. Only you will know for sure.

When I followed my heart and chose a vocation rather than a job, the first career transition was traumatic. I suffered a deep depression. Everything that I had planned and dreamed of seemed to die right along with my resignation letter.

abetteroneWhen my marriage ended I was up to my neck in life; new motherhood, major losses through death and estrangement, and in order to get my life on track, I did not have the luxury of time to grieve any of that. I had to buck up and move on, but the need to grieve never left until I did the work of grieving years and years later.

Other relationships of all kinds have sparked and fizzled, and with each of them I learned and developed a deeper awareness of who I am, what I need and more importantly, what I am capable of giving. The wonderful thing about being human is that none of this remains constant throughout life. Just when you think you have it all figured out, something changes, and you adapt.

With each new beginning it’s natural to take a look back.

neverlookbakYes darlings, that’s right, it’s perfectly  normal, and likely a healthy view via the rearview mirror of life, so long as you’re not distracted from where you’re going.

Despite the pithy sayings about never looking back, and what’s in the past is best left in the past, it’s also important to reprocess experience as we age. I used to freak out thinking of my last relationship so much that it interfered with the one that I presently was in. Check that, it affected me so much that I would not enter into anything more serious than something that ended prior to 3 a.m.

At this delicious stage of life, I’ve allowed myself the space and time to reflect, reprocess and re-dream. Sure, life has not been like I had thought it would be like. If you told my 20 year old self all of the things I would have done in this lifetime up until this age, I wouldn’t have believed it.

Sometimes things really do fall apart so that the right things can come together.

If you don’t believe that in this moment, maybe you have to be more gentle with yourself and allow whichever loss you are grieving to crawl out from underneath the weight of all of your trying. Silence and solitude can be frightening when you don’t know what’s tangled up in the dark corners of your psyche. Trust me, whatever it is won’t bite, it just needs a little more of your attention and love.

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Take it Off…All Off!

takeitalloffYou have absolutely no idea how excruciatingly wonderful it felt to slip my tailored suit jacket down my arm and across my back as I kicked off my heels and walked toward my bedroom.

“Good-bye fancy ear-ring,” I said, as my fingertips gripped the back of the clasp…

You will never comprehend how decadent it felt to peel off my pantyhose and know that for two-whole weeks, the only big wardrobe choice I have to make is flip-flops or bare feet.

Sah-weet!

When you wear a uniform or uniform-like attire to work every day, it becomes part of your identity.  Not that that’s a bad thing. I happen to be among the chosen few who actually love their job and the people they work with. Having said that, every now and then, it’s nice to put some distance between your skin and the clinging sheath of your professional persona.

Sometimes it’s just really nice to reconnect with what it means to be a free-creative-music-and-art-loving-spirit, connected to the earth and sea. For me it’s always been the sea. It’s always been the water, and the fresh wind, and the dark night sky and it’s been so terribly long…

Stepping out of my suit and taking off my ear-rings, necklace, watch and rings, I relished the feeling of freedom that comes with not having to.

I write to you my lovelies because I care. If you, like me, get lost in the routine of every day, occasionally get overwhelmed with anxiety and fear of the future, are thankful for all of the blessings in your life, and don’t want to rock the boat, I urge you to resist your fear and make time to reconnect with what you love.

The margins in my life are narrow. My resources are all self-mined and lean toward the depleted side. I look death in the eye daily, and I know that life is short. It’s all a gamble my friends. It’s all water under the bridge to never-never-land. Every now and then you need to take a leap of faith, jump for joy and do something that rekindles the spark that made you absolutely fabulous once-upon-a-time.

As I slip out of my suit and into something the good-lord made comfortable, I raise a glass to the simple joy of saying, “Fuck it”, and then doing just as you please.