change, empty nest, parenting

Stop Acting Like an Adult, it’s Tripping Me Up

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When I started this blog I knew I needed and wanted to write on a consistent basis. I promised myself a post every other day. I’m a day late and am thrilled as to why that is. My boy is here! My boy, who decided six weeks before this move that he was staying in Las Vegas, of all places.  It would have been hard to leave him in San Diego where we have a good, strong support system.  Leaving him in Sin City?  Without a support system?  Hard.  Almost impossible.  Heart breaking.

No one told me that parenting an adult child is harder than navigating through the terrible-two or teenage years.  When he was a child I had leverage.  It was my way or the highway – sometimes.  He was a headstrong, independent kid (maybe not unlike his mom) and liked to challenge me but, for the most part, I set the rules.  When he turned 18, little did I know, my leveraging days were over.  I didn’t want to admit it and continued to parent like I always had.  I think he humored me.  For the most part, he listened to my advice.  He followed the rules.  Then, one day, out of nowhere, he decided to exercise his adult rights. He told me how it was going to be.  That parenting day sucked.  Hard.  He stayed in Vegas and so did my heart.

I told my husband that I was certain he was going to stay in Las Vegas forever.  He was going to get married, have children and put his roots down in Las Vegas.  I was trying to figure out how I could be an involved grandma to grandkids that lived 20 hours away.  I had conversations with my husband about education in Las Vegas and the overall tone of the city and how I didn’t want my future grandkids growing up there.  I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m a bit of an over-reactor, but seriously, try telling me that in the midst of whatever situation I’m predicting the future for.  My husband told me not to worry.  He told me that my son, who hated the heat and crowds, would not stay in Vegas.  He, along with every single person I know, told me that my son would end up here in Oregon.  I didn’t believe it.  I was already buying my plane ticket to visit my future grand-babies.

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I was wrong.  He moved to Oregon three days ago and, as you can see, loves it as much as his mom does.  He was pretty serious about putting some roots down here and getting involved with his new community.  He found a job.  He signed up to be a volunteer firefighter/EMT.  He is going to be an assistant coach for the local high school football team.  My heart is happy and I am so, so proud of him.  But, I’m not under any false pretenses anymore, at least that’s what I’m telling myself.  He applied and interviewed for, and is most likely going on a commercial crabbing boat when crab season starts on December 1st.  I’ve seen Deadliest Catch.  The mom in me isn’t excited about this one bit, but, he’s an adult.  I don’t have a say.  And it could be so much worse – he could be in Vegas, getting married and starting a family.  So my heart will go out to sea this winter but, we’ve already established that I put all my eggs in the ocean so I guess that’s fitting.

Are you a parent to an adult child?  Have you read the manual?  I would love it if you would share some of your insight and knowledge.

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about, change, solitude

I Need a Moment or a Month or Two

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“In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion.” – Albert Camus

The guy in that photo is my hunk of a husband. That I met him when I did is baffling to me.  I had my back to the world.  I had insulated myself.  I was in a long-term state of solitude.  And it was by choice.  It was something I felt I needed to do to regulate and adjust my life and to heal.

For years I lived in reaction mode.  I hated my mailbox.  The sound of my doorbell made me physically ill.  I was scared of couriers, mailmen and sheriffs.  Any thing or person that was used as a method of delivery was a source of anxiety for me.  My ex-husband controlled me when we were married and that need worsened when we got divorced.  He waged a war on me via a custody battle and his weapon of choice was to bury me.  Between his daily letters demanding a response and the court documents with deadlines, I was up to my forehead in paperwork.  I had to respond if I wanted to keep my son.  I also had to work and pay my bills.  One wrong move on my part (losing a job, not maintaining a stable living environment, etc.) and I would have absolutely lost custody of my son.  I was in a “this or that” situation and my focus was keeping my kid.  The rest of my life was in shambles.

I didn’t have the luxury of having hobbies, traveling or cultivating friendships.  And honestly, I really never stopped to be sad or pissed about that.  I didn’t have time to.  Because my life had become a constant state of emergency, I never had the opportunity to retreat and reflect.  I didn’t recognize the depression.  I didn’t take care of myself, whatsoever.  So when the court days ended, and they did, abruptly, a ton of feelings and emotions came crashing down on me that I needed to address so that I could move forward in my life.

Turning inward wasn’t a decision I made immediately. When the custody battle ended, I began to feel everything I didn’t have the time or energy to feel in the midst of crisis. It was as if I spent those days in shock, with my adrenaline soaring and didn’t realize the extent of my injuries. Only after the crisis ended and my adrenaline returned to a normal state did I realize how wounded I was.

I knew I needed to heal. I wanted to be healthy. I found a therapist, one that was kind, easy to talk to, and who kicked my ass when needed. I was working through things and the introvert in me needed space, quiet and alone time. People in my life equated my solitude with depression, loneliness or anti-social behavior. I wasn’t lonely or anti-social and I was working through my depression. I disconnected so I could reflect on my past, accept what that past looked like, mend my wounds and learn from my experience. Isolation, for me, was healthy and necessary.

I absolutely believe that withdrawal in some situations is a red flag and should be addressed. I know my friends and family had the best intentions and truly were worried. I’m thankful that they cared enough to reach out to me. I’m also thankful that I met the man that became my husband. We met during a huge transition in my life; he didn’t push me to be someone I wasn’t, but met me where I was.

I’ve come a long way. I’ve dealt with my past. I’ve moved on. But quiet mornings with a cup of coffee, walks on a secluded beach with my dogs, late nights with a book – those are the times that sustain me, that allow me to reflect and appreciate my blessed life.

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beach, Oregon Coast, storms

I Put All My Eggs in the Ocean

“Do you live by the river?  I hope so, because people who live near running water are much nicer than people who don’t.  I’d be mean as a scorpion if I lived inland.” – Mary Ann Schaffer in “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”

I have always been drawn to water.  I grew up in San Diego, California.  My dad was a professional fisherman and we spent more time exploring lakes than we did playing at parks.  We never lived at the beach but I went to school only blocks away from it.  I spent days tanning on the coast with my friends.  When I lived in Denver I was drawn to rivers, streams and lakes.  When I lived in Las Vegas I just stayed inside.  It was too damn hot.  The irony of the scorpion quote was not lost on me.  Trust me.

So when my husband got this job, this job, on the coast of Oregon, I about flipped out.  I would have been happy to just move to a state with water.  Moving to a town that was on the coast, to a house that was feet away from the beach?  Just stop.  Seriously.  Even after he got his teaching contract and it was a done deal, I thought something would happen that would stop us from moving to my dreamland.  I was convinced we’d get in a horrible accident.  That the school district would renege their offer.  That there would be a severe earthquake and our new little coastal town would fall into the ocean.  A tad dramatic?  Perhaps.  But try telling me that during the months that led up to our move.

Somehow we made it safely to our new hometown.  It didn’t fall in the ocean.  And my husband’s job offer was real.

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And this is how it greeted us.  It was more magnificent than I ever imagined.  The images of South Beach and Newport, I so furiously Googled from our air-conditioned house with blackout shades in the middle of the desert didn’t tell the whole story.  I couldn’t smell the sea and forest all mixed and mingled together to make the most delicious, briny, earthy combination imaginable.  I couldn’t hear the seagulls, sea lions and rice crispy popping of the barnacles during low-tide.  I couldn’t feel the wind or the spray of the water on my skin.  I couldn’t see the magic swirling in the air, and there is – magic.  There is something otherworldly about the Oregon Coast.

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Going to the beach, walking the secluded coastline, exploring the rivers that meet the sea has become a daily habit for us.  And our dogs!  Our dogs downright demand beach-time, daily.   I’ve never seen our pups run flat-out and play in an almost feral way.  After seeing them off-leash on these secluded beaches I believe that every dog should have the opportunity to run wildly down the beach at least one time in their life.  The joy I get from watching my pups frolic on the beach makes me cry.  Seriously.   So, whether it is clear and sunny, cloudy, windy, downright cold or raining, we go.  My husband and I made a decision early on that we would never let the rain stop us.

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What we didn’t factor in was storms.  This weekend we got our first storm and it’s a doozy.  This is not a “Storm Watch San Diego” storm.  This disturbance is being fueled by a typhoon.  A typhoon from Japan.  I didn’t even know that happened.  We had to move our lawn chairs, plants and BBQ into the garage so they wouldn’t blow away.  We had to go to town to stock up on food, water, propane, ice and candles.  We’re getting alerts on our phones about 60-80 MPH winds, flooding and landslides.  Our power went out.  We are not going to the beach.  And today I realized I did exactly what I lectured my son about his whole life.  I put every single egg I own in one big basket.  Since the beach has become our entertainment, our gym, our church and our marriage therapist, what do we do now?  What do we do tomorrow? Monday?  They say it really won’t be gone until Wednesday.

We’re going to have to find new entertainment – maybe watch one of those shows that is on our nearly full DVR.  Maybe pick up a book!  I remember when I LOVED to read.  Maybe listen to my incredibly talented husband play one of his 11 guitars?  We’ll get through this storm, our dogs may disagree, but we’ll figure out how to pass the time until we can get back to our beloved beach.  We’ve never been after a big storm and we’ve heard that is the best time to go beach-combing.  Until then, we’re going to hunker-down, cuddle up, read a book, play a guitar, enjoy some movies and watch this fierce storm.

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What do you do with your time when it storms?  I’d love some ideas!

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about, change, future

Blackbird Fly

Twelve years ago I was sitting in a movie theater watching I am Sam.  Movies were my escape from reality.  A reality that included courts, CPS, psychiatrists and psych exams, restraining orders, anxiety and pain.  So. much. pain.  Going to the movies provided two hours of reprieve from what had somehow become my world.  I am Sam was an odd choice for me and way out of my comfort zone.  I went to the movies to get as far away from my problems as possible.  I was looking for love stories, action-packed adventures or something ridiculously funny.  A movie about a custody battle?  A movie about a man fighting to keep his seven-year old son?  NO.  Not interested.  Way, way too close to home.  But for some unknown reason I went and although I sobbed through much of the movie, I loved it.  It is a movie about hope and the power of love.  I walked out of that theater with puffy eyes, a renewed belief in humanity and a song.  A song I kept close to my heart for the next twelve years and counting.

I am constantly amazed how music can touch us in the most profound way. “Blackbird” by Sarah McLachlan (originally by The Beatles) soothed me when I was upset, gave me hope when I felt hopeless and enabled me to anticipate a better future for my son and me.  That song became part of my healing process.

Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arrive

Those are the lyrics that hit me.  That made me cry.  That socked me in the gut.  That resonated in my heart and soul.  I felt like a bird with broken wings.  For seven years we had been in the family court system.  Every six months for seven years my ex-husband took me to court to get full custody of our son.  I didn’t have a drug or alcohol problem, I had a steady job, a comfortable and safe home and  I loved my child with my whole heart.  Yet, there I was, fighting with everything I had,  to not lose my kid.  My parenting days weren’t filled with normal parenting issues.  I wasn’t sitting on the couch reading editions of Parenting magazine.  I was just trying to figure out how to keep being the mom I so desperately wanted to be. “Blackbird” gave me glimpses of what I hoped my future would look like – not to just break free of the chains of family court and my ex-husband but to really fly, to rise to my full potential and to be free.

Like I said in an earlier post, it took years to get out of that tangled mess.  I wish it would have been different – mostly for my son.  Children deserve better than custody battles, courts and ongoing conflict between parents.  I wish I could take it all back and give my son a different childhood, but I can’t.  I do believe that both of us got a whole lot of compassion and resiliency out of it.  My son is twenty now and wiser than his years.  He has a heart for people.  He is an amazing person and I am so, so proud of him.

The man my son is becoming, this move to the Pacific Northwest, my new marriage – these were all hopes and dreams I envisioned every time I heard “Blackbird.”  Several people have asked me what the meaning behind the name of my blog is.  Several of these people are part of my most inner circle.  I wasn’t sure that I wanted to share something publicly that I was hesitant to share with my custom-made family.  But yesterday my brother asked me for the story behind Blackbiird Fly and after sharing with him I decided to write this post.  I took the leap because that song taught me a great lesson in life  – take hold of what speaks to your heart, what quiets your mind, what helps you to envision the life you want and make it part of your daily life.

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change, small town living

We Cancelled Our Costco Membership

This is the first time in my life that I have lived in anything smaller than a metropolis.  I was born and raised in San Diego, lived in San Francisco during my college years, had a short stint in Denver and just moved from Las Vegas.  The population of our new home town: 1,109, now 1,111.  We don’t have a gas station, bank or a Starbucks (unheard of, am I right?) but we do have some of the prettiest, most secluded beaches on the central Oregon coast and a little, itsy-bitsy market that is open 24 hours a day and that is money, baby.

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One of the biggest adjustments for us has been getting in sync, time-wise,  with our sleepy little town.  Every community we’ve been to on the Oregon coast, including ours, closes up around 5PM, and some days, some businesses aren’t open at all.  And just when we think we’ve got a specific store’s hours down, we see a sign on the door that says, “Gone fishing, closed for the week.”  Did I mention, we moved here from Vegas?  The official round-the-clock city?  It has been an adjustment.

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*Funny story about that sign.  We saw this tonight, on our after dinner walk around town.  After, I wrote most of this post.  I love it when the stars align like that.

Before we moved, I remember talking to my husband about what life would be like in a small town.  I knew going in, there wouldn’t be a Costco, Whole Foods or Barnes & Noble near us.  I was fine with that, but I told my husband that we would need to drive to the nearest big town every weekend for a Trader Joe’s and Target run.  He said okay, but now I’m pretty sure that he was laughing, saying, “yeah, right” and maybe even rolling his eyes, in private.  He’s no dummy.  He grew up in a small-ish community.   Even though I was planning weekly trips to cities, before we even moved, I was excited about living in a small town.  For years I had longed for a quiet, simple life.

We drove to Eugene (the nearest medium-sized city to us) a week or two after we moved here, to pick up something we bought off of Craig’s List.  That was the first and last time we drove outside of our area to buy anything.  There was traffic.  There were crowds.  I missed the beach.  I told my husband that I thought we should try to do all of our shopping in town, that driving two hours every weekend to buy “stuff” was silly.  We live 15 minutes from a bigger, small town (still no Costco, Whole Foods or Barnes & Noble) that has, pretty much, anything we need.  If they didn’t have it, we would just deal.  He humbly said, “okay, let’s try it,” but again, I’m pretty sure that inside he was like, “thank God.”

We were at a dog park the other day and started talking to this nice man who was there with his pups.  He told us that he and his wife had lived here for ten years and had just decided to move to a city closer to I-5.  He said that although they loved it here, the two-hour round trip drive to go buy supplies was getting old.  Wait.  WHAT?  Immediately I questioned everything.  Were we doing it wrong?  Are there supplies that we need but don’t have because we are choosing to buy locally?  To live like the locals do???  We do live in a tsunami zone.

Honestly, I still don’t know what he was talking about and I’m not going to dwell on it.  All I know is I love my new little town.  I love how living here has simplified our lives.  And I wouldn’t trade this for a million Costco’s.

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change, exploring, marriage

Change isn’t a Dirty Word

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::sigh::  The official first day of fall.  The autumnal equinox is here people.  Let’s celebrate with your favorite espresso drink and a fresh-baked good.  A few things that excite me about this time of year besides coffee and croissants: football, school supplies, cooler weather, boots, pumpkin flavored anything, season premieres, crackling fires and pie.  Fall has always been my favorite season, but this year it is extra special.   There is a newness to this season that screams potential and this year my life is brimming with changes.

  • new husband
  • new home
  • newly empty nest

These are three pretty significant changes, in fact, I think they are on that list of top life stressors, so yeah.  I can dig my heels in and resist, wallow and freak out or I can embrace my new life and look forward to this new stage.  I choose the latter but the former sneaks in every now and then, I’m not going to lie.  Something that steers me away from the fears of change and towards a more positive outlook is, learning.

My husband and I have made a deliberate decision to learn about our new environment.  For example, we learned early on that using an umbrella in the rain is a surefire way to get mistaken for a tourist here in Oregon, where it rains 512 inches a year.  So no umbrellas.  We love the rain.  My hair – not so much, especially without an umbrella, but change is good right?  Who has time to worry about presentable hair when there is SO much fun to be had on the Oregon coast?

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Embracing the changes of living in a new state has been an absolute joy and has added so much to our marriage.  Learning new things together is creating an awesome bond between my husband and I.  Here are a few highlights from our first month in our new home:

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We love to eat fresh, local, sustainable food.  Eating food you grow and catch is a viable option here!  Neither of us know what we’re actually supposed to do once we catch a male crab that meets the size limit, but they have local classes for that too!  And until that day comes, we’ll have so much fun pulling those crab pots up, in anticipation of what they hold.  Once we caught an eel – I’m not even kidding.

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We go to the sea daily and it absolutely fills us up.  We’ve also learned a thing or two about sneaker waves.  We love and respect the ocean and we never turn our backs on it.  Ever.

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We love to explore.  I would have never labeled myself as an adventurer prior to moving here.   I tend to be a worrier.  I read books like Into the Wild and see movies like 127 Hours and think, um, not a chance.  Why would they even put themselves in those positions?  We’re not exactly hiking into the wilderness of Alaska or climbing crevices in Utah, but we are exploring rivers, walking through the woods, discovering tide pools and walking miles of secluded beaches.  This is living on the edge for me and it is liberating.

Making a conscious decision to learn new things has enriched our lives and our marriage.  It is exciting to redefine who I am.  We still have struggles in our marriage.  Who doesn’t?  I miss my friends and family who live farther from me than ever before.  Figuring out who I am after my son left the nest has been especially hard.  When you’re a mom, raising a kid on your own, for twenty years and then that kid decides it is time to make it on their own.  Talk about having to redefine yourself.  But, a new season is upon us.  Change is inevitable and I’m choosing to go with it.

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about

Pipe Dreams Can Become Reality

I believe in the power of positive anticipation.  I’d like to say I believe in it because I’ve always been one of those, glass-is-half-full types, flitting around in life, all smiles and laughter while believing wholeheartedly in happy endings.  I wasn’t.  I was suspicious of those types and generally kept those folks at an arm’s or city block’s length.  I was more of a, I’ll-believe-it-when-I-see-it, question-everything, cautious type of person.  Until, ironically, my world as I knew it, collapsed.  That was six years ago.

I was, resistantly (is there a stronger word?) , sitting in a court ordered high conflict parenting class learning how to co-parent with someone who wished I was dead.  I was in my twelfth year of an ugly custody battle, convinced that no one could give me any tool, technique or suggestion that would help with my nightmare.  I was waiting to hear the advice I had heard for the last decade-plus, “compromise,” but I didn’t.  What I learned eventually changed my life, literally – physically, emotionally and spiritually.  I learned how to just do me.  I was given tools and techniques to change, not my ex-husband, just me, myself and I.  The one technique I am eternally thankful for, and which took me outside of my self-pitying, loathsome self, was positive anticipation.  I learned that having small positive anticipations, like buying new shoes or going to the movies was important, and to some extent, I was already doing that.  What was foreign to me, was the idea of creating long-term positive anticipations in my life and to do so by going all in, complete with vision boards and creative writing.

I started to imagine the life I wanted.  It was a slow process.  I was not in a great place emotionally depressed.  Positive anticipation sounded good, healthy and something I should probably try, at the very least.  I was on board, but picking up a pair of scissors to cut a picture out of a magazine seemed like an impossible feat when I could barely muster the energy to take a shower.  I had to go to that class once a week so the importance of positive anticipation was thrust at me week in and week out.  I started by just talking about the life I wanted.  I was reminded to think about my future life when things seemed particularly bad, and there was still years of that to come.  Eventually, I looked forward to cutting pictures and phrases out of magazines.  In time, I got specific, down to the clothes I wanted to wear, food I wanted to eat and place I wanted to live in.  I collected those magazine cut-outs, I daydreamed, envisioned, prayed for and got excited about my future.

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Sure, I lost sight of my future at times.  I still dealt with hard things.  It took me a while (years) to see my anticipations become reality, but they did.  They are.  I changed the way I ate two years ago.  I’ve simplified my life.  I read more.  I moved to the Pacific Northwest a month ago.  I’m getting more exercise, making new friends and learning how to relax, or really, quiet my mind.  Project Touch Toes has yet to be accomplished and I still don’t have that cute yellow coat, but positive anticipation is a constant work in progress, it is fluid, it is a lifelong project.  Getting that coat is still on my list, even if it is from five seasons ago.

This is where I will document my progress and backslides (because we all have them), share a little about my past, because, although the past does not define me, it is part of me, and look forward to the future in joyful, positive anticipation.

“They always say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them  yourself.”Andy Warhol

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