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.

Changes in the works…

Something BIG has happened…

A milestone.

Before anybody gets excited, it isn’t a another ‘new’ job. And no, I’m not getting married again. Nothing quite that monumental.

But over the weekend, I reached 10,000 hits–or visits to this site. (Over 10,000 now…)

When I began, I didn’t know if THREE people would visit the site. Or at least THREE people who weren’t family…

Obviously, there are writers, bloggers, websites that have 10,000 hits per day–and get millions on a yearly, or monthly basis. I know that.

And yet, I feel a sense of accomplishment.

When I look at my stats, there visitors from all over the world. Not only do I have a ‘nice’ group of followers (27, last time I looked), there are also many who use RSS feeds, bookmarks, Facebook and other tools to keep up with my posts. And they do so regularly.

To everybody who has stopped by…my most sincere thank you. I appreciate the comments, personal emails, texts and other communications. I truly do….

Nothing is more touching than connecting with others, sharing our commonalities. I’ve made new ‘friends’ in England, Australia, Florida and both the eastern and western seaboards. Which humbles me…

Honestly, I’m not a Perfect writer. I abuse grammar rules. Write in fragments. (No shock, because I THINK in a fragmented way…) And am constantly flagged for using the ‘passive’ voice. (Grrrrr……I can’t help it sometimes!!)

But I do love to write. Love that I can make a difference. Can share some of my thoughts and experiences (AND disasters and struggles) in an honest, positive way. And hopefully others feel a little more human, less alone.

CHANGES IN THE WORKS…

LENGTH ~ I am going to try (HARD) to shorten my posts. Writing the longer ones is time-consuming. (And I fear boring?) Plus I need to focus on getting a ‘real’ job–at least a part-time ‘real’ job. (And soon!) Unless I want to make like Fred Flintstone and drive a log car, using my FEET to get it going.

THEME ~ I have playing around with it. It will probably change soon. Don’t be alarmed, or think you are in the wrong place if the site has a ‘new’ look.

WEB HOSTING ~ Fingers crossed, this isn’t noticed by readers. And that any technical difficulties in the transition are minimal. I need to acquire hosting service, start using proper tags and other technical stuff. Believe it or not, I have slowly grown doing NONE of what writers/bloggers are SUPPOSED to do to attract readers. Not shocking. I don’t often follow the rules, or go in the proper order…

A BIG THANK YOU–And all of my gratitude to those who have hung in there and supported me these past couple of years.

And please let me know if you like the changes. Or hate the changes. Comments and Feedback often helps point me in the right direction…

LIFE without LISTS

Ever notice that cookies, cupcakes, flowers, and  fun seasonal goodies are always prominently displayed near the entrance of stores? It is because people (like me) are easily distracted. It is also the reason the apples are forgotten, when I pass by the cupcakes.

My problem in going to the store to ‘pick up a few things’ is that I never remember what I am picking up, once I am at the store.

It was no different the day I discovered that we were down to the tiny square of toilet paper stuck to the cardboard roll. I was off to the store. AGAIN. No big deal…we could certainly use a few odds and ends, as long as I was heading out for toilet paper.

That is how I found myself standing in the soup aisle staring vacantly at the rows of red and white cans. They marched across the shelves—seeming to mock me. What kind of soup was I looking for? And when had soup made my list?

Speaking of lists, I really should have taken a few minutes to make one. Not that a list is foolproof. I have been known to spend an hour or more making a detailed list, clipping coupons, and putting together a plan for a multi-store shopping excursion. Only to leave my list at home on the kitchen counter.

Which is pathetic considering that I often leave my phone and car keys on top of the list, to so that I don’t forget it. Still, I foul this up more than I get it right no matter how hard I try. Which is why I end up making so many impromptu runs to the store for items such as toilet paper in the first place!

As I meandered up and down aisles, I found myself wondering why we struggle so hard to plan our lives. I remember attending a high school graduation a few years back. Out of a several hundred kids, only three were ‘undecided’ in their future plans—and I admired those three for being honest. The rest had mapped out their futures in great, glorious detail–complete with chosen school, field of study, desired job and intended career path.

Such planning truly astonishes me. I can’t even get a list to the grocery store!

And I am okay with that. Because I’ve seen people spend so much time planning, they are not actually living life. Or they are waiting for all things to line up Perfectly, before enjoying their lives. Disappointment sets in hard, when the inevitable monkey wrench is tossed at them.

I’ve been clubbed by the wrench often enough to have learned a thing or two. I too, have plotted and planned in excruciating detail a path to take me exactly where I wanted to be. Only to arrive there and realize I was wrong. Other times, I was so devastated by a course of unforeseen events, that breathing felt unbearable. Yet when time passed and the pain eased, I was grateful for the detour. I knew that I was exactly where I was meant to be.

Lists are good. Planning is good. A framework to guide us can be incredibly useful. But I believe it is important to leave space for a change in course, to be open to surprises.

It isn’t the worst thing in the world to forget the list. Or to alter the plan. After all, that’s how we occasionally end up with a cupcake.