She in the CLE

USA-Cleveland-267x267There’s a new blogger collective in Cleveland and it’s called She in the CLE.

From the She in the CLE site: 

Welcome to She In The CLE! We are a blogger collective dedicated to driving conversations with purpose by women in the Cleveland area. We provide a channel for women to engage and discuss topics at all levels from climbing the corporate ladder to sampling the best eats in the city to raising a family! Our mission isn’t about defining the conversations or topics – it’s all about creating a vibrant, virtual space that allows for networking, continual learning and storytelling.

Happily, I’ll be a contributor.

I’m very much looking forward to connecting with other Cleveland women and the conversations, friendships and connections that lie ahead. Here’s a link to my first post:

From Homemaker to Single, Working Parent (sigh…)

Happy Weekend!!

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…

A Weekend Trip With Darling Daughter …

I haven’t blogged in a while because I’m recovering…

Prior to last weekend I was getting ready to go out-of-town with Darling Daughter—and this week I’ve been regrouping from our little adventure.

We live east of Cleveland, but headed to Columbus overnight to watch our high school wrestling team compete in a tournament, then stayed for daughter to do a scholarship competition at a college just outside of Columbus.

And so we watched wrestling on Saturday, and then went shopping at the mall that evening.

At the mall…

Darling Daughter: Mom. I’m stuck! The zipper…

Daughter was in the fitting room and I went in to help.

Darling Daughter: ZIP IT. And I mean that in two ways!!

Later at the shoe store…

Me: I’m hot

Daughter plopped down in a chair.

Me: I need orthopedic heels for work. My black dress shoes are instruments of torture.

Nice Salesmen to Daughter: Long day of shopping girls?

Darling Daughter: No. we were at wrestling…

Poor fella was stunned. Daughter and I exited the store.

Darling Daughter:  Did you see his face when I said we were at wrestling?

Me: No.

Darling Daughter: He looked confused…

Then it hit us. He had no idea what to think. What the hell kind of wrestling were we watching? Where Daughter and I wrestling? We laughed so hard we couldn’t breathe…

As we made our way through the parking lot to our car, I asked Daughter if there was anyplace else she wanted to go. There’s no limit to the shopping that can be done in Columbus.

Darling Daughter:  I’ve had it. I just don’t know if I can look around anymore.

Me: It HAS been a long day of shopping…

Darling Daughter: How long HAVE we been shopping?

Me: Maybe an hour and a half?

Darling Daughter: That’s IT?

More laughter. Less than two hours is a pathetic effort, really.

Thankfully we’re both blessed with a sense of humor, because we spent most of the day laughing. Mostly at each other. And I had a blast with my girl.

HOWEVER, THIS IS WHAT I’M WORKING WITH:  007

Yes. Daughter went to bed in socks, sweats a hoodie—even AFTER completing an extensive bedbug check.

Darling Daughter: Just be glad I don’t have gloves. If I did, I’d put them on.

She was serious. We both knew it.

There were even sticky notes on the headboards…

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On the nightstand, there were little, white notepads that said “for your thoughts…”

Daughter stuck one of the yellow sticky notes on the notepad and wrote, “This is not reassuring.” She’s never shy about sharing her thoughts.

Darling Daughter to me: I mean, you assume that’s the case.

Daughter was nervous about the college scholarship competition. I tried to calm her down…

Darling Daughter: Sure it’s no big deal. Only my future. What if my dreams are dashed?

Me: Then you’ll change your dream. Get new dreams?

NOT the right thing to say. (Just a little advice to other parents of seniors…)

AND HERE’S WHAT DARLING DAUGHTER IS WORKING WITH:

gigis cupcakesMe: There’s a cupcake shop.

Darling Daughter: You don’t NEED a cupcake.

Me: I might need one…

She also had to cope with my driving. Not improved now that I’ve got my handy, V6, stick shift, Nissan—good thing the leather head rest is cushy, because her head kept bouncing off of it.

I can’t sit still–NOT helpful when we sat through the college info session and she was so nervous she thought she was going to throw up. And I kept making her seat move, jostled her around.

AND WE BOTH HAD TO COPE WITH GETTING LOST:

I plugged 615 Sandusky into the GPS, but Daughter had written 61 S Sandusky in my notebook. We drove around until we were both completely aggravated.

Me: Clearly, we’re at a gas station. NOT a college campus.

Darling Daughter: Yes.

Me: We can hardly MISS a college campus!!!

Daughter finally looked at the directions (again) and as we talked it through, she realized our collective error. I read her ‘S’ as a number 5.

By the time we reached the college, I badly wanted to enroll her—and LEAVE her there.

And had she like the school, I’m sure she would have LOVED to stay!!

Last night at Steak ‘n Shake we discussed the college visit with Aunt Kate…

Aunt Kate: So it went well?

Darling Daughter: No. I failed miserably.

(Or so Daughter thinks…which means that we hoofed it down to Columbus, stayed overnight at a hotel, dropped several hundred dollars…for nothing??)

Aunt Kate: Oh well, it was a good experience for you.

Me: That’s what I said. She doesn’t really agree…

We discussed it a little more and I joked that Daughter could always live at home and commute.

Darling Daughter: No. I can’t!!

Me: I know. No way you can do that.

One thing we BOTH agree on.

Daughter cannot live at home. We love each other, but she is 100% ready to leave the nest. Has been most of her senior year. And I’m ready (or at least I think I’m ready??) to let her go…

This morning:

Mom: Can I take shampoo to school?

Me: Sure. I don’t care which one you take, just leave something…

Darling Daughter has late arrival, yet she gets up at 5:30 and does a 6am morning run (and workout) with a couple of other girls crazy enough to run at the crack of dawn. She showers at the school, then heads to the library to study and do scholarship applications before her first class at 9am (ish).

And so there was NO shampoo in the shower this morning…

That’s why I was on the worldwide web at 7:30am looking for a recipe for making your own shampoo. Which I created with a combination of baking soda and warm water, then rinsed with vinegar per the instructions online.

On my agenda today? A lunch event where I’ll be speaking in front of nearly 100 people—making clean hair a must. How clean it really is, I’ve no idea!!

There you have it. My life is kind of a crazy comedy of errors. Bound to happen when a 42-year-old single mother lives with her 18-year-old daughter. (And I’m not even counting the teenage body, the dogs, etc.)

Tomorrow, I’m just hoping to have shampoo…

I’ve Been Holding Out …

Generally, I blog about normal everyday life.  With (mostly) good humor and (hopefully) a degree of perspective.

But for the past few months, I’ve held back.

Not on purpose. More because I couldn’t FIND perspective. Because this past summer was one of the most difficult I can remember–especially after my car bit the dust in May.

For 4 months, I was without a car of my own.

At a party last weekend:

Friend: Amy, you are too nice. Always the ‘peacemaker.’ We are going to have to teach you how to be NOT NICE!

Daughter was within earshot…

Darling Daughter: Just take her car away. That’ll do it.

Me: She’s right.

Darling Daughter: She’s been horribly cranky…

She spoke the truth and I admitted it to everyone. Though we all had a laugh, those months were awful.  So much so that I couldn’t put words to the low points, my despair. I lost my freedom, my autonomy…and even my sense of self-worth sometimes.

But I finally bought a car. A used car, but it is new to me.

Though older, my Nissan Altima is loaded with safety features, has leather interior, disc brakes, a moon roof, a BOSE stereo system and much more.

I’m not sure anybody appreciates having a car as much as I do.

The cherry on top?

It is stick shift, which I wanted. (but couldn’t find when I got my last car) With its powerful V6 engine, my new/old car is a joy to drive. A party on 4 wheels.

My local Nissan dealership took it on a trade a few weeks ago. And it would have been sold in a day or two. Except nobody wanted a 5-speed.

Several Nissan employees (all men) had their eye on it. Were thinking of buying it.

So it was sort of funny that a girl strolled in and grabbed it.

My first car was stick shift, but I haven’t driven one since my early 20’s. Like riding a bike, it came back to me as soon as I got behind the wheel for the test drive.

The other thing that is sort of funny (In hindsight anyway…) is how quickly our car situation turned around.

My ex gave his Lexus to our daughter a couple of weeks ago, when he got a new car. The Lexus had high mileage since he drives a lot for work. Nearly 200K. But it is a solid car, not very old–and should last her a while.

Our  driveway was empty for months. Unless you count the 14 cars I borrowed off and on.

Somehow,  we went from ZERO cars, to TWO cars in a matter of days!?!

The kids and I have been through our share of challenges, but the ‘car thing’ was almost my undoing. And I have no idea how my children tolerated living with me at times. Or why they didn’t run away from home.

Not sure how family and friends coped either. But they did. Not only did they all hang in there, they went out of their way to boost my spirits,  support me and chauffeur me around.

They ALSO  let me borrow their cars.

And I’m not even the best driver. Yet only Aunt Kate handed over her keys and said, “Just don’t crash it…”

The car isn’t the only thing I’ve held out on…

I’ve had a new job for months. A job that truly enjoy. That I’m good at. (For a while, I wondered if I was ‘good’ at anything.)

After being laid off a couple of years ago, I was determined to find a job/career that suited me. I’ve sold vintage items online and I’m still an eBay PowerSeller and Top Rated Seller. I’ve also taken freelance projects; written and edited web content, set up blogs, even designed a restaurant menu . With no idea where it was going, I kept saying ‘yes’ even when I was terrified. Kept doing what I loved—Selling. Marketing. Writing.

Until I fell into my current job as a Marketing Manager for a local (downtown Willoughby) company.

Then, more serendipity. A friend that I met through my online selling leased space in downtown Willoughby one block away from my new job—and I’ve been busy moving my part-time eCommerce business there. Helping my friend market her upcycled furniture. (More on that another time…)

Not too long ago, I was down…though maybe not out. And suddenly, I’m surrounded by opportunity and possibility.

For the longest time, I felt as though I was on a roller coaster, with it clicking up…up and up farther. Seemed I went uphill forever. With no end in sight.

Then, out of nowhere I hit the top. And now I’m just hanging on for the ride as it rolls downhill…

I’ve got the beginnings of a career in marketing. A small side business doing what I love to do. A blog that has been read by thousands. (for some reason???) A car. Two (seemingly) well-adjusted, happy teenagers. A peaceful and happy home. Family and friends. A couple of dogs

And I’m full of gratitude. For my ‘inner circle’ of family and close friends for not giving up on me. For sticking by me when I wasn’t all that fun to be around. When it would have been far easier to bail. And for continuing to believe in me—even when my belief in myself got shaky.

As I type this post, I wonder if it gets much better than this?

Especially when I’m driving my new/old car. Because it hauls as#. I can’t wipe the smile off my face when I’m behind the wheel. There is a sense of triumph that I hung in there–even when I couldn’t see a way out.

And for sure, I am starting to get excited about what comes next again…

Special Thanks to my family & friends for getting me to and from my new job (one way or another) these past months. I’ve never been more grateful or felt more lucky to have all of you at my back.

Lucky #13 ~ The Ford Edge?

There have been 13 cars parked in my driveway in the past 3 months…

1. Honda Accord:

Back in May, I still had my Trusty Honda Accord. 13 years old and about 225,000 miles on it. It was getting tired, so I sold it.

LIFE JUST KIND OF HUMMED ALONG.

2. Dodge Grand Caravan:

I used the cash from the Honda Accord to buy The Green Van. I knew I was taking a chance, but didn’t want a car payment. Drove the Green Machine down to Washington D.C and it promptly bit the dust. I’ve been without a car since the end of May.

The relatives brought me back home. Sort of like an ‘Adult Carpool.’

3. Toyota Corolla:

My cousin dropped me off at my father’s house. They were out-of-town, so I borrowed their zippy little Toyota Corolla. Handled great. And got FANTASTIC gas mileage.

4. Chevy Tahoe:

Then my Dad got back and I was handed off their other vehicle for several weeks. That truck was top-notch for hauling my teenage son and his friends to football conditioning each day. They are all 6’ to 6’3” and bigger than most adult men. The downside? I think it got about 8 miles per gallon and it cost me a fortune to put gas in the thing…

5. & 6. Trailblazer & Audi A4:

Borrowed from my friend and her daughter when I needed to run an errand or pick up kids.

7. Ford Pickup:

Borrowed from my neighbor Chapman when I was in a bind.

8. Buick LeSabre:

One of my girlfriends had to travel for work and I had this car for several weeks, as well. One doesn’t so much ‘ride’ in a Buick LeSabre, one ‘floats’ down the road. And its burgundy. (She calls it Classic Old Person Color). Fully loaded, leather seats, power everything…its like rolling down the freeway in a recliner. Might be my favorite car this summer. (Was for sure Daughters favorite.)

9. Chevy Impala:

Same family that owned the LeSabre also had an Impala, which we also had here and there.

10. GMC Truck:

Borrowed from yet another friend when I needed to haul furniture. (Another story)

11. Nissan Rouge:

Aunt Kate’s car. Have had that, too.

12. Lexus Sedan:

Daughter has had her Dad’s car when he has been out-of-town.

13. Ford Edge:

This is Lucky #13. And what I am driving today. And this weekend. Fitting that it is called the ‘Edge’ because having it parked in my driveway is keeping me AWAY from the Edge. I’m just not sure how much longer I can be without a car of my own…

Me: I really, really LIKE this car.

Son: It’s a CAR.

Me: True.

Son: Like…any CAR works at this point.

The biggest problem?

For nearly 3 months, I cannot find these cars in parking lots. I have no idea WHICH vehicle I am looking for. Or even what I arrived in…

Sometimes, (Okay…frequently) I have to pull out the keys to jog my memory.

But the end of this disaster is near.

Because It just cannot go on. Not for me. Not for my friends and family.

Son: Mom, it’s a good thing you have friends.

Me: Yeah. For some reason, people seem to like me. No idea why…

Here’s to lucky #13.

May #14 be my NEXT CAR…