I’ve Lost All Control

Today I’m sharing my secret shame.

I used to refinish furniture and home decor. Since 2012, I’ve created Beach Art on canvas, with what I find while walking on the beach. Somehow, I’ve lost all control of my rocks, sticks, beach glass, beach wire and plastic. But I always turn my finds into something. (Eventually.) I have workspace in my basement, but I never work there. I try hard to contain the mess.

And yet…

We cannot eat at the dining room table much of the time. On a good week, we’ve got use of half of it. We have to be careful to walk around the piles of vintage and antique frames neatly stacked against the dining room wall, in a corner.

Mantle Disaster

The mantle used to be attractive. It’s perpetually a mess now. I set completed pieces up there to make sure I’ve got the right colors and nothing needs added; if something is off, I eventually figure out what’s wrong by walking by it enough times. Also, propping pictures up ensures that my Beach Finds are securely attached to the canvas or canvas board. If they get loose after a few days, I fix them.

mess3

 

Lucky me! Our mantle wraps around a corner, with a bookcase below it, giving me more square footage of mantle to ruin.  We used to have family photos there.

Most people store fancy items in their china cabinets. Mine? Full of sticks, beach glass marbles, artists proofs of prints, and more projects in the works.

My desk has a triangular jug of beach glass and random stones on it most of the time.

Sticks on China Cabinet

I do have a couple of china plates in the cabinet–my mom’s china. It isn’t just beach glass that’s a problem for me. I can’t resist old glass; Carnival Glass, Early American Pattern Glass, and glass vases. I do have a few such items in the china cabinet, but it’s mainly books (I’ll spare you photos of the books stacked all over the house, that’s an “issue” for another day) and the junk I find on the beach.

Notice the branches on top of the china cabinet? Even have to walk under sticks to enter the kitchen.

photo 2 (2) giant tree

We used to have art on the walls. Quite a few of my favorites paintings are packed in bubble, being stored. We have no wall space for them. My Beach Art is on our walls now, because I don’t want anything damaged. Once completed, wired on the back, it’s safer to hang on a wall until it sells. Of course, I have my favorites–that I won’t sell. (Ugh!)

The driftwood and metal tree above the park bench is enormous, about 3 feet wide and 5 feet tall. I could have sold it too many times to count, but I won’t part with it.

The upside? 

My Beach Art sells easily, faster than I can create it. Which is why I started having prints made. Yes, signed, numbered, “fine art” prints–of sticks, rocks, and beach glass.

Almost too shameful to admit…

I keep seeing photos on Facebook of local beach cleanups going on in our area. Good stuff, kids and families getting out there and spiffing up our beaches. But what if they throw away something good? Seriously, that’s what I think when I see the photos.

It’s been suggested I play with Legos. Truth. My kids friends sidestep my mess like it’s no big deal, they’ve gotten used to it. Not too long ago, I was arranging stones, coming up with a new design, when one of my son’s buddies said, “Mrs. Lauria, you should invest in Legos. It’s kinda the same thing, right?”

This hit close to home as Legos were my favorite toy as a kid. My very favorite!  The only thing better was going outside–I rarely came inside unless it was dark out.

A new workspace?

I’ve started pinning barns on Pinterest. I’ll need to do something soon! My house is overrun…

barn

 

I dream of having a workspace outside of my home; a barn, an outbuilding, anything with a bit of wall space to hang a gallery of finished work, my stash of vintage frames. Perhaps with shelving to hold supplies. I typically use pretty clear vintage and antique glass jars/vases to hold my stones, beach glass, metal and such. Makes it easy to sort by size and see what I have. I also use ball jars for storage, and even to mix paint in.

My “mess” wouldn’t look like a mess in a workshop. It would look attractive, possibly even stunning.

For now I have a home. And my mess is anything but pretty. It’s destroying the vibe…

Interested in checking out my projects? Head over to my website.

Workspace ideas? Comment below or Contact me. In the meantime, I’ll keep pinning to my “Dream Girl Cave” page on Pinterest.

What I know about LOVE at 44 …

Aunt Kate & Uncle Joe with their granddaughter

Aunt Kate & Uncle Joe with their Granddaughter

Love happens.

My Aunt Kate once said about love, “When you get it right, it’s a slice of heaven.” She has been happily married to my uncle for 40 years, one of the best examples of a successful marriage I’ve seen.

I met and fell in love with my husband when we were both in high school. We dated through college, married in our early twenties, and quickly had two children. We settled into our first home in a family neighborhood, where I stayed home to raise our daughter and son.  I expected to always love him, to be married forever.

Love goes away.

My husband and separated when I was 38; then divorced.

He is now my ex-husband. Yet it is still a love story to me, because my children have been one of the greatest joys of my life. My ex and I both love the children, if not each other.

Many years ago, my mother passed away after battling cancer. Divorce and breakups aren’t the only romance enders, partners can pass away.

Love can have many chapters.

After my mother passed away, my father met his second wife. We are profoundly grateful they found each other, his wife has been a gift to our family.

A friend was toasted with, “to the most optimistic woman I know,” at her wedding, when she married her third husband. Nobody expects to be married two, three, four times. But it happens. Perhaps there are more challenges and baggage, but it can work. I admire those with the courage to dive in, embrace another chapter, and love again.

Love comes back.

We all know couples who separated, then reunited; or married, divorced, and then married each other again. Long married couples often say they stayed that way because they never wanted to divorce at the same time.

Couples often struggle during transitions, such as retirement or children flying the nest.  Sometimes they lose each other, and then find their way back together again.

My Wedding (1992)

My Wedding (1992)

Love is squirrely.

Can’t chase it, and catch it. Can’t manufacture it, or force it to be there. Can’t will it away, if that’s what the heart feels. It’s isn’t easily explained.

When things got rocky in my marriage years ago, my then husband and I did a brief stint of marriage counseling.  I remember saying to him, “I think you want to be in love me.”

To which he responded, “Isn’t that a start?” (Meaning a start at repairing the marriage.) No. It really wasn’t. We separated soon after.

Divorce, loss of love, isn’t as simple as pointing a finger.

Was the divorce his fault? Mine? Both of our faults? Yes. It was.

During divorce, many want to blame somebody, or something. It gets complicated. Many thought I should have been more angry or bitter than I was. Here’s what they didn’t understand.

The divorce forced me out of my comfort zone, freed me in some ways. I’ve met new people, grown and developed, pursued my interests, worked to build a career, raised two children as a single parent, and learned to stand on my own two feet.  It’s been hard, challenged me relentlessly, but it has also been good for me, empowering in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

People don’t fall in and out of love at the same time.

Often during love relationships, one person stops feeling the love, while the other is still in love. After the breakup, one person feels guilty, while the other devastated. Many times we don’t fall out of love at the same pace, or at the same time. It is doing somebody a kindness to let them go, when it isn’t working.  It frees them to grieve, and then find the love they deserve.

It isn’t a picnic to be the one who lags behind, who is dumped while still invested in a relationship. Neither is it fun to call off a relationship, hurt somebody.

It isn’t wrong to be either person.

People often botch the ending.

Instead of facing the end of a relationship with honesty, many have affairs, drink, avoid home, pick fights to justify their actions, work incessantly, and all manner of things that make the ending more confusing, messier than it might have been.

Adultery is particularly challenging; it creates shrapnel that children and families pluck out for years, perhaps even lifetimes.

Teaching teenagers about love is hard.

As a single, divorced mom, it’s tough to speak to something that I neither succeeded nor failed at.

I’m not providing an example for my children to learn from, or follow. Could be worse, I could be providing a poor example; serial dating, dragging drama into our family home, and doing more damage to my children. I rely on family and friends to model examples of solid relationships these days.

What can I tell my children about love?

If you fall in love, be honest. If you fall out of love, be honest. Don’t muddy the waters with bad behavior, cheating,and lying. Respect the love you once felt with an honorable ending.

Evaluate the failed (or ended) relationship, yourself and your part in it, your patterns, before moving to the next relationship. (i.e. “clean up your mess”)  Without time, reflection and cleanup, your next relationship is doomed to failure.

When you find somebody you don’t want to live without and they feel the same for you—something clicks. Value it.  Respect and cherish it. It doesn’t come along every day. Hang onto it.

Wisdom to add? Something you’ve learned about love? 

Please share your thoughts by commenting below…

Anybody Want to be Tagged In?

100_3082There are days I want to TAG somebody else IN.

Like in wrestling, when one person gets tired, they tag their partner in to keep going. Then hop out of the ring, rest, and regroup.

I want to hop out of the ring from time to time.

But as a single parent, that really isn’t an option. Some days are hard. Wearing.

There is no balance.

There are days when my house is clean, laundry is caught up, groceries are shopped for and dinner is on the table on time.  From the outside, the lawn is mowed and the yard looks pretty. The bills are paid, budget organized.

There are days when I’m an excellent parent. When I have meaningful conversations with the children about their future goals, college plans, and their dreams. Where I read and perhaps help edit an assignment. When I’m everything a parent should be.

There are days when I’m a super working woman. When I have a great meeting, am part of putting together a spectacular event, or of submitting an exceptional grant proposal. Where I feel I’ve accomplished something in my role as Communications Director for a local nonprofit. Or when I’ve gained a new skill, or landed a freelance project.

But…

None of those days happen together. 

Many years ago, I expected to succeed in all areas of my life. On a daily basis. (Hah!)

I have no such illusions seven years into being a single parent.

When my house is organized and looking great, I’m barely hanging on with the kids. When I’m having a stellar work day, attending an evening meeting or banging out a ten-hour day, I’m returning home to chaos. Dinner will NOT be on the table, my son will have long since run out for takeout or fast food. I won’t have the juice to edit a paper, or string together a sentence. Forget about meaningful conversations.

As a married woman, I could to TAG somebody else IN. These days, there is an ex husband living about 30 minutes away in a nearby suburb. In theory, this might offer a break. But it rarely works out that way.

Kids tend to lean on one parent after a divorce. Being that I’m the Mom, and I was a homemaker for almost 15 years, my kids are used to coming to me when they need something, when they are sick, but also to celebrate the good stuff. The dynamic was set many years ago, long before the divorce, when the children were young.

They’re used to having me provide them a home, a soft place to land. And I love doing it. It’s a big part of who I am. Over the years,  I’ve logged many shining moments of parenting excellence.

Then there are the other times…

katie mom gradDarling Daughter and her very long-term boyfriend broke up a couple of weeks into summer, just after her freshman year of college. She and the young man began dating during eighth grade, dated for almost six years.  Though Daughter felt it was the right decision for both, she was devastated. Would quietly go up to her bedroom to sob in private.  The timing was terrible for me. I was beyond busy at work, the house was falling apart.

I would love to say I was supportive, loving, all that a mother should be.

That would be a lie.

Three days into her routine, I’d had enough. I marched upstairs, busted into her bedroom and told her crying was fine, but could she please “cry and move the laundry, vacuüm and cry, empty the dishwasher and cry? Could it be a productive crying?”

I’ll never live that down.

A good mother would have hugged her, comforted her, baked her some cookies, made her a cup of tea, listened patiently, asked her if she needed anything, or taken her to lunch. Anything would have been better than my handling of the situation.

“Three days. That’s all I got,” Darling Daughter still says, “I stopped the crying. I was terrified Mom was going to come slamming into my bedroom, yelling again.”

My children are two of the greatest joys of my life. And yet, there are times it would be great to TAG somebody else IN. Anybody would be more effective than me, sometimes.

I’ve learned that I’m not usually spectacular in every area of my life. There are glimmers in different areas, on different days. But I cannot do it all, every single day.

The best I can hope for is that someday, there will be a partner; somebody to TAG IN when I’m spent.  Who might show up with dinner, take the car for an oil change, and have meaningful conversation with the children when they’re tired of what I have to say.

Until then, I suppose I’ll muddle through…

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Crisis Mode and Cupcakes…

IN HONOR OF THROWBACK THURSDAY, I’m going into the archives, posting an old blog. I’m 44 now, but not a whole lot has changed. Enjoy! 


Georgetown-Cupcakes-Strawberry-Lava-Fudge-Cupcake-Recipe

My brother stopped over for a visit a few days ago. He’s single.

He plopped down on the couch and treated Daughter and I to stories of his recent dating experiences. Naturally, he moved to the subject of me finding a man.

Beloved Brother: You’re 43 years old…you’re in CRISIS MODE.

Me: Huh?

Darling Daughter: You’re not getting any younger.

Daughter couldn’t help teasing me….

Crisis Mode?  I never thought of it that way.  I dated as a teenager. I started dating the man who became my husband in high school. I’ve dated since my divorce. I’ve spent almost my entire adult life WITH somebody, or married.

I think maybe taking time between relationships, time to recalibrate, might be underrated. I can’t be the only one enjoying a bit of ME time, right?

Because I love cupcakes, I’m going with the cupcake analogy:

I wake up happy every day. Love my children, family, friends, job, home and most days, my dogs. The right person would be the icing on the cupcake. Maybe there’s something wrong with me, but I’m not rushing to frost the cupcake. When it happens, it happens.

I haven’t been in a hurry…

But then I hadn’t realized I’d entered CRISIS MODE.

Not to worry, my brother softened the blow.

Beloved Brother: Really, you’re what most men are looking for…

Me: Huh?

Beloved Brother:  Your kids are about raised. You’ve got one away at college and the other is independent, almost out of the house.

Darling Daughter snickered.

Me (teasing Daughter): You’re a liability. Nobody really wants to deal with another person’s kids…

Darling Daughter: Thanks a lot.

My brother was oblivious to the insult he’d just delivered; agreed that no man wants  little kids, or even teenagers hanging around. He reassured me that mine were tolerable because of their ages, before moving on…

Beloved Brother:  You’ve got a job, you’re doing well. You’re not looking for somebody to take care of you. And you don’t want to get married again.

Me:  Right.

I was speechless, which is a rare thing. He did get me thinking though…

Daughter and I (left) and Son and my Brother (right)

Daughter and I (left two photos) and Son and my Brother (right)

A second marriage? It’s never been a goal, or a driving force in my life. When I was in my twenties, I married for love, to have children, a home and to build a life with a man I expected to grow old with. I learned in my first go-around that marriage comes with no guarantee, doesn’t always keep a person faithful and committed. Just because people get married, doesn’t mean they stay married.

It wasn’t easy to get where I’m at now. My life works. For me and for my children. Of course, I would feel blessed to share my life with somebody special. But I think that might be enough. I’m not ruling out another marriage someday–but neither is it something I NEED to complete my life.

Thank you Beloved Brother for pointing out that I’m getting long in the tooth. Much appreciated. Your stories of online dating, divorce groups and such? Not making me eager to go down those roads. Not super inspiring.

What my brother calls CRISIS MODE, doesn’t exactly feel like a crisis to me.

I’ve been busy building a career, raising children, dating, socializing, spending time with family and friends–having fun.

And someday…perhaps a special person will happen along and it will be like frosting on a cupcake.

Why? I Don’t Understand…

Why do the dogs get the coffee table confused with the floor?

The other day, the Dachshund was sitting on the coffee table. He hopped down, took a lap around the house and next thing I knew he was lounging on the coffee table??

dash 2 table

dash table

Things that belong on the coffee table:

Remote controls, books, magazines, the newspaper, snacks and drinks,  laptops…our feet.

Things that DO NOT belong on the coffee table:

Dogs.

And certainly not large, furry, 85+ pound Golden Retriever dogs…

rocky coffee tableRocky Dog is 9 1/2 years old. I thought he might be senile when he slowly, climbed  up there. (Daughter, Aunt Kate and I laughed so hard we couldn’t breathe…)  Nobody scolded him because he was so happy and proud–his tail wagged like crazy.

Of course, that might be the problem. Nobody scolded him. We were too busy laughing.

Our coffee table is old. It was in my house 35 years ago when I was a kid and I stripped the top and repainted the bottom years ago.

I was thinking of getting a new, pretty one.

But really, WHY?

If I did that, I might not be laughing. And I’d far rather be laughing…