Wednesday, April 4, 2018

A piece of paper

"Life is most definitely what you make it."

A few weeks ago I found myself holding a number, (P 522).  It was on a piece of paper that I had just pulled out of the machine at the DMV. I was there to register the new (for me) Prius that I had purchased a couple of months ago. The one that was replacing the Rav4 that was stolen from me last December.

"So if something is bothering you, face it, there's something you want you chase it, bottom line you gotta (sic) get out there and make things happen for yourself & ask for support when you need it."

That Rav4 I had purchased last spring from my sister because the family van I had been driving up to that point had been pummeled by hail and had been totaled, ( I salvaged it actually, so that my 16 yo could drive it. We call it the "Van Hailin").

"Live a life you love by participating in things that help you thrive as you grow. Do things that represent the type of person you hope others see you as, & mostly just be proud of who you are & what you accomplish b/c its what you want".

I didn't want to stand there for an hour so I went for a walk. For over a year I have been thinking about finding  new job. Not because I dislike my job or didn't enjoy it. Money isn't really an issue, (though more is always good). Working for a non-profit is good work, and I'm proud of being able to have positive influences on people's lives. Being there for over 20 years, however has made me feel very comfortable to the point of being stuck.  I have felt like I can just rest on my reputation and not do anything more than what is expected of me. Like a piece of paper with a number on it. I needed some excitement, to get jazzed about something, bigger, better. In my thinking, getting a new job was the answer.

"I feel like too often, people set these extravagent (sic) goals of doing great for humanity or something when we need to start simple & live by making ourselves proud of who we've become & staying true to those who've always been there for us. We are in charge of our own happiness. 

During my walk that day, I found this piece of paper with words on it. Just a piece of trash in some tall grass. No reason to pick it up except I did. The words on this piece of paper spoke to me. Like they were written for me. And since then, things have been just happening.

We are only in charge of our own happiness & if we make others happy on the process that is a bonus but you've definitely gotta worry about taking care of you and making changes in your lifestyle to eliminate the negative influences. 

This little side consulting business of mine has started to take off. I've gotten some cool gigs that have been well received.

At my full time job, new light has been shed on some projects that I have going on. I actually look forward to going into work.

What is the difference between the past month or so and the year before that? Probably just attitude. And perspective. Throughout the last couple of years of my marriage and then through my divorce, I got very used to just reacting to what was going on around me. My life was consumed with negative thoughts about myself and what I had to do next in order to just get through the day.  Today, 15 months post divorce, I now understand that I am in a new place and I can't just wait and react to situations around me. I understand that I have left behind those dark times. I won't forget them, but I won't hold on to them either, waiting to react to whatever comes my way. I know that I have to take care of me.

And take it one step at a time living each day as the last, or at least like the gift it is. We all too often take life for granted but time flies so enjoy even the downfalls b/c with sad comes happy. 

One thing I know about myself is that sometimes I need a kick in the pants to wake up. And during my walk, I find this piece of paper with handwriting on it that has done the kicking. It's this anonymous letter with words spilling out in a heartfelt manner.  I have shared them here in italics. Written by someone for me to see. These jolt me awake.

I hope to live up to them.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Happily Surprised

So I have not written here since July when I wrote about the heart stones I have been finding. I have been caught up in life, have not really taken the time to pause and think or reflect on what I am going through or consider where I am.

Today is Thanksgiving. As I think back and reflect over the past few months, I see that life has happened to me. And because I have chosen to be open to what life has to offer, there now is so much in my life to be thankful for. And just like the heart stones, these things often times come to me in ways that appear unexpected.

Being the recipient of a kind gesture from a friend or one of my kids.
Being provided opportunites to learn and grow at work.
Living in a safe space I can call my own.
Being alone, and yet not feeling lonely.
Being around people, and yet not feeling lonely.
Having a chance to influence and have a positive impact on someone's life.
Having an opportunity to volunteer with an organization that is near and dear to my heart.
Enrolling in a jewelry/metal working class and finding joy in the creative outlet it provides me.
Interviewing for and now waiting expectantly to hear from a potential new employer for a job I am excited about.
Feeling my heart open and grow in ways I never knew it could as I nurture a relationship with a beautiful woman I have met.  On line of all places.

And so many more things. I mentioned that these things have come to me in ways that appear unexpected. Is that true? Or are they coming to me now only because I am ready for them?

I just reat my very first post. In it I wrote, "But this isn't a blog to complain about divorce. Or to complain about the wonderful mother my kids are fortunate to have. It's about how I am doing with it all, what I can embrace now and what I can let go. And it's about how I can use my experience to grow." Little did I realize what was in store for me over the 12 months that followed me writing this. Embracing the now and letting go of what I can. I have used my experience to grow and learn. Of all the things I am grateful for, perhaps the #1 thing I am grateful for is that I  am in a position to embrace all of those things I list above. It's been a difficult road and I had plenty of doubts about whether or not I'd get here. But I am.

My dear friend Meg sent me this poem Molly Fumia. "To be joyful in the universe is a brave and reckless act. The courage for joy springs not from certainty of human experience, but the surprise. Our astonishment at being loved, our bold willingness to love in return, these wonders promise the possibility of joyfulness, not matter how often and how harshly love seem to be lost. Therefore, despite the world's sorrows, we give thanks for our loves, for our joys, and for the continued courage to be happily surprised". 

Here's to being happily surprised. Every day.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Heart Stones

Heart stones

So an amazing thing has been happening since I moved in to my place on May 14th. I have been finding heart shaped rocks in so many places. In the 8 weeks since I have been here, there have been at least 14 instances of where I look down and notice these incredible heart shaped rocks. On runs, on hikes, on walks around the block. Some of them look more like hearts than others, and none of them are perfect like those we've all cut from pieces of paper.  But sure enough, despite their jagged edges and lopsided forms, they look like hearts.

Now, to be perfectly honest, I can't take total credit for this. My former spouse introduced me to the practice of finding these stones years ago. She, or I, would find one and bring it home. Sometimes we would find one on a hike we were taking together and pass it on to the other. I found some and made a nice little pile of them on my window sill at work. There are others that have been sitting in the cup holders of my car.

After a while there were multiple piles of them everywhere in our lives. Every now and then I would pick one up as I walked by and feel it's shape. Feel it's roughness or smoothness. Feel it's curves. I would take the time to realize the connection between me and the earth that the stone represented. And then I would place it on the pile again, and continue with my day. To me these stones have come to represent the energy that flows through us and through the earth. Energy that is love represented in this simple, imperfect heart shaped rock. My former spouse introduced the idea of heart shaped rocks to me and I have been grateful for her doing that ever since. Through the years I have been able to connect to them in a personal way.

And then the tough times started and I lost touch with these stones as I also lost touch with myself. For those of you who have read my previous posts, you know some very difficult things have happened in my life over the last year and I've been preoccupied. Occasionally I would find heart stones laying on the ground but to be honest I was walking around with a bitter heart. I lost touch with how I used to pause and connect with the earth energy that these stones represent.  At the time my walks consisted of me venting, of figuring things out, wondering what I was going write about in my next blog post. I was not really open to what Mother Earth was saying.

And then I moved into my new place and it started happening again. Whereas before I would find a heart shaped rock ever few months, I started finding them everywhere. On paths, in parking lots, on the shoulders of the road, in piles of landscaping rocks. I shared this phenomenon with a friend who responded by saying "My wife would say that you are on the right path."

I mention to another friend about how Mother Earth must be telling me something and she texted back "Mothers are wise and they know how to protect their young". I may not be young,  but in terms of Mother Earth years, I am but a newborn pup. What a great image to carry with me as I continue to walk on this journey. I am grateful that I have her looking out for me.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


"And now you're alone" he said.

Wow. That hit me like a ton of bananas.

May 14th. Another day that has been on my radar for a long time. The day I moved into my new place.  I have known for over a year that I would be doing this but I didn't have a date. Then I closed on my condo March 13th and gave the current owners 2 months to rent back. I did my best to stay patient. Finally those 2 months ended yesterday. I now have the place to myself.

Jake, (my nephew),  and Greg, (the guy I have been living with for 3 months) helped move my stuff. We almost filled up 3 cars. Piled it all up in the living room. I had my bed delivered. Said good bye to Jake. Gave Greg a hug. And thats when the bananas hit. He said, "and now you're alone". 

Leave it to a guy I have know for 13 some years to speak the truth to me. There is no dancing around this one. The thing is, I have never lived by myself. Parents to college dorm to roomates to girlfriend to wife to Greg's basement. There has always been someone. Now its just me (with my kids part time of course). No music. No TV. No internet. Just me and barely enough stuff to fill a bedroom. I just got done crying some major tears. Not because I am sad, upset or angry. It's because I am just so damned relieved. I finally have a place to call home.

As I walk around and hear the echo of my footsteps, I can't help but ask myself, "Will I be lonely?" Over the past couple years I have not spent more than a couple days by myself and whenever that happened, if felt more like respite. Now there will be days and days of being by myself. How will I fill the time? Can I be alone and not feel lonely? Only time will tell. All I know right now is that I am breathing in huge gulps of relief. And I am looking forward to tomorrow.

Sunday, April 16, 2017


This morning I am unsettled. Uncertainty swims inside my head. I feel shaken. A familiar feeling for sure, however it's been a while since I have felt this.

Let me explain. This past week was hectic. There were quite a few events that occurred related to the kid's activities. The lives of teenagers have a tendency to take over. Somehow I knew about most of these activities. I heard about most of them last minute and just rolled with what was going on as parents have to do from time to time. The problem is that my kids neglected to inform their mom about these activities as timely as they did me. Or maybe they did but the information got lost.

One of these things that happened is a  BIG deal in the life of a teenager. My son told me on Thursday morning that he was going to the junior/senior prom. In 8 days. He is a sophomore, so I said "What?"  He went on to tell me that a junior girl had asked him (via a text!) to go. So on Friday I realized that my son needed a suit. I see a good father/son opportunity here so I left a message with his mom letting her know that I'd like to take him on Saturday to buy him his first suit.

She called me back late Friday. She wasn't upset about me wanting to take him but more about when she found out about it. I guess she had been planning on spending time with him and now she couldn't and felt slighted in some way. And it wasn't just this issue with the suit. It was the similar issues that had happened over the week that contributed to her feeling frustrated. Not informed. Left out. The ensuing conversation we had left me unsettled. I found myself apologizing and defending my self and feeling that I had done something wrong. As a result, I had a hard time going to sleep.

This morning I sit outside on the front porch and notice the minor cracks in the sidewalk and in one corner of the porch. Though I am sure that these structures were carefully made on top of a sound foundations, they are obviously not perfect. The foundations have shifted and as a result, cracks form. Sometimes cracks like these need to be addressed so that they don't become worse. Sometimes they can be left alone. But regardless, it's important to know that they are there.

I reflect on how I am feeling and start to realize that the conversation I had last night shook my foundation. Today I am questioning how I see myself. Over the past months, I have mindfully worked at understanding who I am and accepting that. There were many layers that had to be laid down before I could finally accept who I was. However, as with sidewalks and concrete porches, this understanding, this personal foundation that I have come to terms with is not perfect and is susceptible to shifts. Sometimes life shakes things up and cracks form in our understanding.

That is what has happened to me. This is why I feel unsettled. I don't know if this makes sense, but I think the reaction I had to the conversation last night caused my foundation to shake and crack. This morning I feel unstable, uncertain of who I am. I think it's important to understand that it's not what my ex said last night. I am not comfortable blaming other people for how I feel. I have no control over what other people will do. What I do have control over is how I react to it . Do I take this opportunity to better understand the feelings and become stronger or do I react out in ways that are more damaging?

I will keep my minds eye on these cracks that have formed. I will be cautious in situations that may shake them some more. Over time they will heal and I will learn from them. I will grow.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


This is one of my favorite, favorite places. I am walking in what I call Stone House Park. I think its actually called Wadsworth Park on the map but no one calls it that.

As I walk, I see in my mind's eye two little kids running around.  The two little humans I "helped" bring into this world. Sweet memories are flooding my brain. At this bend in the river where I am walking, there used to be a large beaver dam. For a number if years it got so big that it flooded this section of the trail. My daughter, as a 4 or 5 year old, would look at it in wonder. Maybe she was imagining what the inside looked like. Maybe she was trying to figure out the engineering. How does that dam stay upright against the constant pressure of the water?  "The beaver dam!" her voice would sing out as I or her mom pushed the stroller with her little brother cradled inside.

I loved that stage of life. I was nervous about being a dad. About having a family. About raising these little miraculous human beings. We didn't know what we were doing.  We didn't have a large family or community to mentor us. We didn't have an abundance of cash. We had each other though and we walked along the trail, enjoying the outdoors and all that it was that day. And every day it  was different.

Now I am walking here 15 years later. It's the same trail but yet very different. It's a  little wider and maybe a little more worn. The beaver dam is gone, torn up by the city maintenance crew. There is a new one a little further upstream, bigger and stronger than the one we used to see. It's flooding a new section of the trail. Those little kids are gone. They are big, beautiful teenagers now. Tackling the world as they see it. We did really well. To get it done, we just kept walking. Building on each experience.

I am in a different stage now. And today, I have a complex, tangle of nerves in my gut. In a few hours I will be closing on my new home. The first one I am closing on alone. I am not nervous about whether or not the closing will go well because it will. But more nervous about what the future holds. Nervous about where my path is going. Nervous about whether or not I will see and embrace the opportunities that arise. Nervous about who I am going to become.  I see that it would be so easy to allow the nervousness to cripple my efforts and to lie down  and hide. But I won't do this because holding hands with my nervous energy are a number of other feelings that will keep me going. Excitement. Relief. Fear. Joy. Anticipation. It's these that will encourage me to keep walking.

Just as it did 15 years ago

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Words of Wisdom

Given my life circumstances, these wise words ring true to me in ways they haven't before. A reminder as I re-establish old relationships and form new ones. 
The Journey 
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
‘Mend my life!’
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.
Mary Oliver