Tuesday, August 30, 2016


I wish I could create a special pill that would treat anxiety related to communicating with a nitpicking, control freak, looking for-anything-to-complain-about ex. I'd call it "antiEXiety" medication. It would soothe short-term stress, allow the user to remain calm, logical, and civil in the face of the nastiness (instead of gritting your teeth and faking it until you make it), and ensuring blood pressure remains at healthy levels. Dare to dream! :)

Friday, August 26, 2016

Holiday and healing

Image credit (here)

Last week end was a week end that soothed the soul, plus it was a holiday so we had extra time together.  Hubby was off work for all three days, too, so we played tourist and took the girls snorkeling, and DD2 saw her very first fish underwater!  She was so excited!  We also toured a ranch where we got to feed horses and a donkey and even a giant tortoise, and then we made it home for a home cooked grilled meal, courtesy of the Hubby grill master. 

While the girls had their usual activities on Saturday, we divided and conquered so that each sister could do what needed to be done, then met back up for a yummy lunch at Chuck E Cheese, since why not, the girls begged us to take them and we caved!  Ha ha ha.  Then Sunday morning I woke up, threw a pot roast into the crock pot and then we went to Sunday school and church, and I took the girls for a girls lunch and then we met up again with the Hubs to see a matinee…it was seriously like a vacation where when I finally got to Monday morning, I was thinking how now I need a vacation from our vacation, lol.

In the midst of all the activity, I remembered to hold onto the moments, the giggles coming from the girls in the backseat, the oohing and aahing at the fishies in the sea, DD1 leaning on me on the couch when we caught up on some Olympics, DD2 snuggling up to our doggie G, slurping down a special ice cream frosty treat in the late afternoon sunshine, helping DD2 count her tickets at the machine in Chuck E Cheese, just silly, fun, normal little things.

The girls are going to their dad’s today for the week end, and that’s okay.  They are doing fine.  They’re both back in school, they know their family loves them.  And the Exie has been pretty quiet of late, so for that I’m thankful.

Last night, though, DD1 was teary eyed at bed time—suddenly, she was worried about being late to school the next day.  She’s never worried about things like that, so in my spidey sense, I asked her if it was hard going back and forth between two houses and she nodded her head and leaned on my shoulder.  I told her I was really sorry about the two houses situation, and one day, when she was older, she might understand better.  That even though there are two houses, I love dad and his family, too, because our hearts are big enough for everyone in our family, and that the most important part to know is that SHE is loved by everyone.  She snuggled in closer and seemed to be comforted. 

I honestly don’t know why I said that.  I’ve been thinking about that for a while; there’s so much acrimony between their father and me, and there’s a reason for it, he terrified us, and to do this day, has never taken responsibility for his actions, and continues to manipulate and be a general control freak.  The divorce has curtailed a lot of his behavior, but not all, although I see it as a downgrade from being a terror to an annoying pain in the rear.

I know that I did once love him, enough to hold onto our family at all costs, no matter what, but in the end, that love wasn’t enough.  The pain and anger and terror were too much.  But I remember the love, and I remember that is what I wanted for my daughters—unconditional love.  So maybe that’s why I said that.  If she know that I was able to have love for her father and his family, maybe that would help heal her, and help her not feel so divided.

What I love the most now—is providing a caring, loving household with my daughters and my hubby.  Hopefully showing my daughters what it means to be respected and loved without a cost and a price.  Hopefully showing them that it’s okay if things don’t work out the way you envisioned them to be, that there is a life worth living and building and loving and hoping for.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Shark Cage Dive soothes anxiety, ha!

While I've been struggling with anxiety and worry lately, I'm also happy to report that I spent some time "outside of the anxiety spiral" this week end.  Hubby and I went to the north shore and did a spontaneous cage-shark dive!  It was exciting to say the least.  I actually got a little queasy from the ocean waves (not pictured here, this is the calm bay around the corner from the harbor).  Once the boat got a mile out, it was pretty rough.  

Interesting story:  so the ocean drops off to 400 miles deep a few miles from here; and over the last century, the crab fishermen have left traps along the way.  They collect the traps and only keep the legal sized ones, and throw the rest back to the sea.  Well...the sharks have figured out that the noise of the boats means that people are sprinkling goodies back into the ocean, so now when they hear motors, they come circling.  Which means, while we aren't crab fisherman, the boat attracts the galapagos sharks and they swim and circle the boat while we're in the cage.  It was really cool! 

Although I almost barfed on the way back to shore, and then I fell asleep on the way home, ha ha ha.  Suffice it to say that it was good to get back to land.

I'm still tugging of warring with my anxiety, but I'm trying to hang on and enjoy the ride.  The girls were with their dad this week end, and I can't wait to see them today! This week end is a holiday week end, and hubby is off all three days, so we're looking forward to spending some QT together, yay!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Reflecting on Anxiety

Image credit (here)

Today at Survive, Live, Thrive, I’m in “survive” mode.

The anxiety and stress of dealing with the Ex has come back, delivered with five lovely emails to my inbox on Friday afternoon, a great way to start my week end with the girls.  I actually tabled them for now, because I didn’t want the nitpicking to ruin my quality time with them.

And I’m angry at myself that given that effort, I let his thoughts and opinions run as a constant background buzz from Friday to Monday—worrying how to respond, corresponding with the coparenting counselor by email on general advice on how to handle it, just generally, a PITA frustration.

At the same time, I enjoyed DD1’s end of summer tennis blitz—she was in the lead of one of her singles matches, ended up in a tie.  Overall their team lost, but they were all just so happy to be playing, and everyone enjoyed a potluck afterwards despite the sweltering sun and misty rain, it was fun being part of the event.  I even texted a team group picture to the Ex, rising above the crap. 

DD1 and DD2 and I enjoyed a girls day yesterday—filled with Sunday school, church, a girls lunch, a library outing, and then I cooked a yummy dinner and we all sat down to watch some of the Olympics before bed.  Lots of cuddles and hug time with the girls.  (Hubby was working on the week end, unfortunately)

So why can’t I shake the depression?  Part of it was that hubby and I got in an argument last week—he has a tendency to lash out verbally, and he knows it, takes the words back and improves his behavior, but when we’re “in the moment,” it takes its toll, on top of the other usual stressors of work, parenting, deadlines, schedules.  Having conflict with hubby triggers my anxiety, too, because I feel like I’m burning at both ends of the wick.  The good thing about hubby though, is that over the years we’ve gotten stronger and a better handle on how to deal with arguing, and he reaches out and “comes to his senses” in measurable, action-oriented ways.  I know I sound like Ms. Logic when describing this, but I’ve approached my relationship with Hubby much differently in relationships past, to be sure I can keep on the straight and narrow path.  And that can be tiring, as well as comforting, too.

The anxiety is seeping into other areas of my life, worrying what people think about me at work, overthinking, over-worrying about friends’ and colleagues’ opinions.  I never used to worry about this too much; especially with therapy.  Underneath I used to have this unwavering belief that as long as I was putting out “good” into the world, good would come back, or…if it didn’t, then it was okay, my job was to brush it off and keep marching along.  A blend of Buddhist/zen thinking coupled with my Christian upbringing of forgiveness and the golden rule of do unto others. 

Yet here I am, worrying about if I’m even supposed to be living in our beautiful city, in our beautiful state.  Maybe all the weird conflict swirling around lately is “a sign” somehow that I should be somewhere else, doing something else.  Worrying that maybe, just maybe, I don’t belong anywhere, anyway.  It’s like an out-of-body experience, I think we called it disassociating when I first encountered this in my teen years.  I feel like a disembodied entity, floating along sometimes, meeting all the deadlines and requirements of what a human being needs to do – work for a living, caring for my children, providing the survival minimum, but barely hanging on. 

Why do I feel like I’m grieving?

I miss and love my family who we visited, and at the same time am relieved that I’m thousands of miles away from the drama.  This doesn’t come without complications-- my mom has a medical condition that has evolved over the years, and now she’s in a wheelchair 24/7.  She does the best that she can and is in a “good” place considering—she has numerous friends and attends church and reads and puzzles, but it’s not the same as how she used to live.

My brother is someone who plays the distance card physically and emotionally, and I understand he likely needs it this way, perhaps for his own survival, i.e. not even showing up to say goodbye at our lunch that we had with our mom, his wife, and his two sons—my loving, hilarious nephews growing up so fast!  I know how that train rolls, so shouldn’t have been surprised, but it stings all the same.  Luckily, my two girls were so distracted by hanging with their grandma, aunty and cousins that I don’t think it registered.  And at least we had dinner all together the night before, and at least the girls were able to ride the horses with their aunty that morning before we left…but my mom noticed his absence on that day, and while she’s also used to it, I could tell she was hurting.

My father died when I was 16—my parents had divorced when I was 3, but his younger brother, my uncle, was always kind to me and my brother.  When the girls and I trek to visit, he and my aunt make a point to see us, and since my mom threw a birthday party for DD1, they made the hour and a half drive to attend.  It was so nice seeing them, and yet with all the people there, I didn’t have much time to socialize with them, but I did get a chance to talk at least to my Uncle a little bit, and we took a cute picture with the girls.  They didn’t want me to mention my cousin’s wedding in front of my mom, so I didn’t, but now that I think about it, it’s just a remnant of more family complications. 

After DD1’s party ended, the girls and I went back to the hotel pool and went for a swim with my college roommate’s parents and later had dinner with them (my mom was pooped and sat dinner out, which she was totally fine with).  I love M and B, they are like my own family!  I’ve known them for over 20 years, and they embrace my girls like we’re part of their family, too.  And…I wondered, M and B drove 10 hours to see us; is there something so wrong with us, that my own brother who lives 20 minutes away from my mom didn’t attend DD1’s little bday bash?  That my uncle and aunty couldn’t wait to get out of there to drive back home?  Or was it something I said that made them want to leave so quickly?  This does not take away the fact that my roommate’s parents are sweethearts who I adore, and our time together was full of laughter and hugs and love and splashes galore. And I know I should be thankful that the people who showed up, showed up.  I am, most definitely.  My mom’s friends are a hoot and so loving and kind.

And I love hubby’s family, they have been nothing but open armed and welcoming to me and DD1 and DD2, but they are hubby’s family, and while I shouldn’t be so negative, I know if something blew up in our lives, they wouldn’t be my family any longer, either.

Erg.  I need to figure out how to crawl out of this depressive hole.  Writing it down helps.  All families have complications. 

Somewhere, deep down inside me, there’s a hole in my heart that struggles so much with just saying goodbye.  To be close to people and then leave again.  I’ve connected with others who have been adopted, that it’s linked to the original loss, being left in the parking lot to be found in a foreign country as an infant, not understanding the separation from my birth mom.  A terror and fear and sadness and grief, from a time when I have no memory or language.

I think maybe, all these family complications swirl together and the coparenting stress is another prong to the grieving/depression wheel.  And then saying goodbye or when I’m part of a loss (temporary or permanent) nowadays, it amplifies the grief from so long ago.  I understand it a little better, but it still makes me sad.

So this is where I’m at these days, managing my anxiety linked to grief, and trying to figure out how to make the best of things.

I wonder if there are others out there who deal with this, too.  And if you are, my heart goes out to you, and my wish for all of us is that we can find a measure of peace and comfort in our hearts, somehow.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Vacation Love

Our summer vacation was everything I'd hoped it would be--extended time with family, days blurring into afternoons and then into evenings, with laughter and silliness, and laziness, and adventuring all thrown in together.  Reuniting with family near and far, a road trip in the middle of the country, showing off the landscape to my little ones, so they could experience pieces of how big and wide our world is.  An unexpected encounter with a three car river ferry to take us across to our destination, close-ups with horseback riding and galloping across a pasture, a tiny fawn leaping down the road, chasing its mom along the way.

Late night nail painting and storytelling, lazy mornings sleeping in, an hours long swim in the warm Atlantic ocean, a horse drawn carriage ride down the historic cobblestones of Charleston, more laughter with our cousins, silliness galore with aunties and grandmas and grandpa and nanas and uncles.  Driving a golf cart wildly down the private road with four little kids strapped in a laughing their heads off as we careened toward the community pool, complete with water slide; racing down said water slide and getting beat by my 7 year old nephew!

To be truthful, my heart is still lazily swirling along a southern campsite, alight with lightning bugs, one of one which my older daughter caught carefully between her cupped palms, oohing and aahing over its little glowing bottom, as well as more deer sightings as they languidly trotted across the national park pastured grass, along our walks through a cave 250 ft below the surface.  Stargazing just a wee bit until we all fell asleep, exhausted in our beds.  I can't believe how lucky we are to have been able to travel over 15,000 miles, there and back again, heads and hearts full of love and memories.

Here are some of the scenic pics:
Landing in Kentucky, to visit my mom and extended family; DD2's first "remembered" experience of a window seat and staring out as we descended through the sky. She loved the idea that we were above the clouds!  We had a day to recover from the jetlag, and my mom threw a birthday party for DD1--my uncle and aunty came down from about an hour away, and my mom's friends who I've known through the years came as well.  We had a blast hanging in the rec room, hiding from the blazing heat outside, kids running around and playing games.

Due to my mother's health condition, she is in a wheel-chair full time now--so I rented the biggest vehicle I could rent, and at her request, loaded everyone up, and we headed to a nearby National park for two days.  A beautiful country road!

The road ended at a river; luckily there was a three car river ferry that carted us across!  The girls and my mom thought that was the best part of the road trip. 

Once safely checked into the lodge, the girls let my mom rest with her nurse's aide who we'd hired to travel with us; and we went walking to the nature center, where we spotted two deer trotting around like they owned the place. 

The following morning, mom rested again, and I took the girls 250 ft below ground level to explore the caves on a guided tour.

Some of the oohing and aahing of what was beneath the surface.   

Later, we toured the nature center with my mom, which was handicap accessible, took some pictures by this beautiful creek, and then spent some time at the camp site with my BFF and her family, who had driven down to camp and spend time with us.  My mom was a champ!  All in all, a successful road trip to the park!

We went back to town, where we rested for an overnight, then headed out to my brother's farm, about twenty minutes away from where my mom lives.  Once off the interstate, it's all country roads, like this beautiful shot.

The property is definitely in "farm" country, where horses just hang out right next to the road.  These are my brother's neighbors.  

At the farm, two of their (12! yes 12!) dogs were busy "pointing" at a bird on a fence, while my sister-in-law saddled their horse to take DD1 and DD2 riding.  They had a blast!
And while DD1 was riding with my sister-in-law,  DD2 was hanging out with the barn cats.  This particular cutie pie is named Puff.

 After an overnight, we headed back to town, then had one more fun day of shopping and movies with my mom, before we woke up at the crack of dawn to head to the airport and fly to South Carolina, to visit Hubby's family.

The day we arrived, it was thunderstorming, so DD1 and grandpa (hubby's dad--both mine and my ex's father are deceased, so hubby's dad has really embraced the grandpa role with my girls *swoon*) got into a die-hard game of scrabble.  Considering DD1's at a 6th grade vocabulary and grandpa is a practicing doctor,  DD1 really gave him a run for his money!  Of course, she thought some of her word choices were hiLARious.

One day we headed to the coast, and grandpa had brought kites for all four kids (my two girls, and the twins, who are hubby's niece and nephew).  We got two kites up and flying! 

 The Atlantic ocean was so warm, we could sit in it for hours.  Another of my extended family flew up from Miami the day before, her fiance has family  in South Carolina, so they met us at the beach.  So sweet to have us all together.

The next day, despite the thunderstorm warning, we decided to take the kids downtown to take a horse & buggy ride through historic Charleston.  We drove across two bridges to get there!  

Obviously, these rivers far surpassed the width of the river ferry's river back in Kentucky! 

Luckily, no thunderstorm in sight, however it was hot, hot, hot, but not too hot to pet a sweetheart horse's nose, soft like velvet!

The view from the buggy, as we headed up to the zoning patrol to find out which route we'd take for our tour.  Apparently there are so many carriages going through historic Charleston, that they devised a lottery type system to divide up the routes, otherwise the streets would be bogged down by too many carriages in one place!

 One of the beautiful houses that we rode by--the staircase represents "embracing" your visitors.
All in all, we felt so embraced by our families far away.  It made returning home so difficult, but at the same time, a renewed sense of joy about being home and also committing to spending the time and resources to travel and see the world, share experiences with our family.  I often get lost in the grindstone of deadlines, being on time for work, rushing to pick up the kids, that I forget how important it is to step out of the routine and whisk my girls away (when I can) off the beaten path and into the wonderful big wide world of love and peace and laughter and silliness and wonder.