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Category Archives: beginnings

Moving On

Three years after my divorce, I am strongly considering selling the big house and downsizing. We won’t move far. We’ll stay close to their mom and all of their friends. This is more about simplifying our lives than anything else. Smaller house, smaller payment, less things. I’ve talked about it before, but this is farther than we’ve ever gone. I initially bought out my ex for her half to ensure the kids would be able to stay, at least half the time, in the house they knew as home and their foundation. That was important to me. We were turning their world upside down. Felt like they deserved to at least be able to lay their head down at night in a familiar space that made them feel secure. I knew at some point we’d probably move, but not until it felt right. Now after three years, with the encouragement of the kids, we’ve determined that it feels right.

We really do need time to heal and regain our wits. Three years down the road, I would never recommend anyone make any huge changes immediately after a divorce. It’s difficult to explain because in theMovingDay moment all you want to do is move on and start over. But I promise you, you’re not ready. You’re going to need some time to regroup. Some things you won’t have any control over. But I found for us that maintaining as much normalcy as possible had its benefits.

I never anticipated the emotional impact the thought of moving would have. Perhaps on some level I kept the house for my own sanity as well, not fully prepared to rip myself from that part of my life. But what an enormous step emotionally it has been to consciously make the choice to move forward and say goodbye to the past. To let go. To accept. To feel a confidence in knowing you’re ready to roll. There is a true cleansing taking place. A sense of renewal. An excitement of starting a new chapter. I’ve held on long enough as have the kids. I wouldn’t have done it any differently. So glad we stayed. It hurt like hell financially, but was worth every penny.

Along with being able to take my time in preparing the house, going through everything and making decisions with a clear head; doing it this way has allowed the kids to be a part of the move. It’s partly their choice. They have some say. With the divorce they had none. Had we moved then it would have been the same thing. “We’re moving because of the divorce.” This way it’s their decision as much as it is mine. We’re looking at new houses together. Discussing the options. The pros and cons. Working together as a team. Moving on as a team. Helping each other through the different aspects of what it means to say goodbye to a house that has been our home for ten years. But we’re doing it on “our” terms, not just mine. They’re excited which I don’t think would have been the case three years ago.

 

 

 

 

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Your Own Private Idaho

If you don’t already do it, I highly recommend you find both the place and the time to step away once in a while from the craziness of your life, the pressures of your world and chaos that can overwhelm you. I personally believe this to be a necessity not a luxury. When you’re immersed in your life, it’s very difficult to gain a proper perspective of the big picture. Over time you’ll likely become drained and unable to think clearly as you’re continually bombarded with calls, e-mails, demands, needs, wants etc., making it virtually impossible to give a plan of action the proper attention and consideration. That leads to falling into survival mode rather than thinking strategy and making plans to get yourself into a better position. When you’re simple flying by the seat of your pants to survive, it’s impossible to think clearly and consider options beyond tomorrow let alone next month or next10339327_10152417504572908_8563728598664062419_o year.

For me it’s the finger lakes and whether I can afford it or not, the kids and I go every year to kick off the summer. We spend a week away from responsibilities and make every effort to focus on us, our lives and our future. The kids deserve your undivided attention when possible and this is a great way to do it. And you’ll be surprised at how clearly you can think, even when they’re with you, when the demands of your life aren’t dragging you down or pulling you away.

But whether the kids are with you or not, I believe it’s important that you discover the power of stepping back and giving yourself a chance to recharge, regroup and make a plan. Make some difficult decisions that can set you on a better course for you and your family. These should be choices that you can execute when you get back. Choices that will feel empowering as you start to build a new tomorrow that makes more sense for your new direction. Letting go of the world you built isn’t always easy, but once you can visualize where you want to see yourself a year from now, you’ll be able to recognize what steps need to be taken to get there. These calculated decisions can be made knowing there’s a purpose to each that leads to a more fitting environment for your new life. The craziness of your current life will be waiting for you as soon as you walk back in the front door, but you should be better equipped to juggle the madness again knowing you have a plan and a purpose. Yes, there will still be elements of survival to your current state, but it should be more manageable if you know in your head it’s a temporary situation, not the foundation of the rest of your life.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2014 in balance, beginnings, Divorce

 

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A New Normal

There have been so many life altering changes the past couple of months in our household. And through it I’ve recognized an odd sense of calm overtaking me. Where I would expect to be much more anxious and stressed, I find I’m not really worried about the things that typically bring on anxiety. Sure I have my moments, but for the most part I’m just kind of rolling with it. Then it hit me. Perhaps my calmness is actually an internal belief that I’m dreaming and that at any moment I’m going to wake up and everything will be back to normal.

But then I’m faced with having to define normal. Honestly, I’m not so sure I want to go back to what was normal. It had become a place of negativity and cold. Like you, I’ve worked so hard to get to where I’m at. It normal12may not be perfect and there are still a lot of uncertainties. But managing to survive these past few years has created a new normal of sorts. One worth building on. There is new found internal strength. A strength and confidence I haven’t felt since I first set out on my own.

I remember moving to Los Angeles after college. Top down, 2,000 miles, driving alone across Route 66. I reeked of self confidence. There was no question I would make it. And I did. And then some. So at what point did I get so bogged down in self doubt and worry? The process was so slow and arduous, I didn’t even realize it was happening. Until I “came to” one day after signing the papers. It was then that I recognized how much negativity had entered my life. Only now have I been able to slowly peel back that layer and rediscover the power of self reliance.

You will get there. And along the way you will likely continue to have moments where you freak out about tomorrow. It is still a lot for one person to carry. There’s little doubt my ex experiences the same fears and anxieties. I can only hope she is also rediscovering an inner strength and a sense of calm as she builds her new life. Because it’s what our kids need. They need to feel the security of seeing mom and dad at ease and building a future. Like us, they need a sense of calm and a new normal. Even if their mom and dad are anything but.

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2014 in beginnings, Uncategorized

 

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It’s All Downhill From Here

Being born in Western, NY, I grew up with snow. Hence, many of the stories I tell my kids about my childhood involve snow and lots of it. It’s something I think every kid should experience and something I want my kids to know. I want them to know what it feels like to fall face first in it or go, what feels like 120 mph, completely out of control down a hill with 30 mph winds blowing fresh powder in their face. I want them to have a memory ofchesnutridge6 rolling around in 18 inches of fresh pack powder and then defrosting in front of a warm fire, only to go back out into the frozen tundra for another round. I want them to feel huge snowflakes on their eyelashes as they walk up a hill listening to the crunch of the snow packing under their footsteps.

Unfortunately, being that we live in the south those are hard memories to come by.  So every year around this time my kids and I watch the weather forecast in Buffalo, NY very closely. And upon the first sign of a good lake effort storm we pack our bags, grab a new set of long johns, boots, gloves and anything else we may be missing and stay glued to the Weather Channel App. And when it hits, no matter when it is, we jump in the jeep and we head north.

It takes a lot of effort on everyone’s part to make the trip work. Driving that many hours crammed in something other than a mini-van is not something I would recommend for anyone with a weak stomach. But having traveled as much as our kids have in their short lives, they’ve become pros. So they burry their heads in DVD’s, i-pod touches, and Nooks and buckle in for the long journey demanding I go through the drive thru to save 20 minutes. After twelve hours on the road, we usually commandeer an unsuspecting family member’s home. We then proceed to partake in winterpalooza and enjoy two or three days of non-stop sledding, snowman building, chestnutridge5chicken wing eating, snowball fighting and hot chocolate drinking. It’s become a tradition and this year was no different.

I won’t lie. It’s an effort. Twelve hours (both ways) in tight quarters all for the sake of a few hours of playing in the white fluffy stuff is a test for any family. But I’ll tell you. It’s worth it. To hear the first exclamation of “LOOK SNOW!” as we head into Ohio. The giggles of anticipation. To witness the first snowball thrown during a routine stop for fuel and bathroom breaks. And then to see them all bundled up in their snow pants, boots, gloves, scarves, hats and mittens. Ready to brave mother nature’s fury. It’s just amazing and worth every mile.

There was one point on the third day when we had stopped for our last day of sledding. Wind gusts were 50 mph off the lake and it was only about 20 degrees out. One of the kids refused to get out of the car. But I had promised the other two they could have one more day so I literally picked the disgruntled snow bunny out of the car and carried her to the lodge. Three hours later she was the one pleading for one more time down the hill. And that’s how it goes. Part of the trip isn’t just about the experience of the snow and the environment. It’s about continually demonstrating to the kids what happens when you push yourself a bit. When you go outsidechestnutridge4 your comfort zone and try something you otherwise would forgo in leu of sitting on the couch watching an episode of i-Carly.

To accomplish that, we as parents sometimes have to push ourselves as well and go outside our own comfort zones. In the process we ourselves gain experiences we otherwise would never know the joy of. If I’m thankful for anything, it’s not just the memories of playing in the snow. It’s about the experiences I’ve had because of the kids who pushed me to do things I myself would have never attempted. All for the sake of ensuring they themselves had the chance to try something different.

One thing my ex and I agree on is that memories and experiences far outshine things. It’s not always easy, especially when life gets crazy. But I think it’s important to make these kinds of events the highest priority. Jobs will come and go. Tests can be retaken. Bills will always be there waiting. But their seventh year will only happen once. And then they’ll be going off to college; eventually telling their own kids about their childhood memories. Today is the day to create those memories.

If there was ever anything worth the effort. It’s creating moments for your kids that will last a lifetime. For us one of those memories will be snow.

 

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Left Wing, Right Wing, Chicken Wing!

Congratulations. You made it through the holidays and 2012.

As many will attest, the holidays can be a stressful time. It’s perhaps one of the most stressful times of the year, particularly if you’re divorced with kids. As a single parent you wear the stress of many people, not just
end-of-2013-start-of-2013_shutterstockyour own. Along with the joy of dealing with the solitude when you don’t have the kids, carrying the full load when you do have them, finding time to shop for presents and then wrapping them, juggling schedules, school breaks, stretching finances; everyone around you is equally stressed out creating levels of anxiety you never dreamed existed.

The kids of course are experiencing a great deal of their own stress. In many cases it means the majority of their vacation is spent on the road, visiting more than one family, adjusting to a major holiday without mom and dad together and dividing what time they do have between both mom and dad. In some cases it also means trying to understand why mom and dad may be getting along but aren’t together as we do our best to create a harmonious environment to ensure their holiday memories are good ones.

There are family members who are stressed because they don’t understand your situation necessarily and don’t know how to act around you. There are others who; despite your reassurances that everything is fine; ask you 76 times if you’re “really” alright and worry about how you’re handling it all or how the kids are coping.

6a267e83118d66269156e45fd180e4b2-dog-feels-bad-for-knocking-over-christmas-treeAt work; staff and clients are stressed out as everyone is trying to get things done before the break and their moods are swinging back and forth as they deal with their own multitude of home holiday stresses which of course filters its way to your office.

The checkout girl at Kroger glares at you when you have the audacity to ask for paper instead of plastic because SHE’s stressed from all of the overtime hours, the kid who just dumped a dozed eggs all over aisle 9 and not being able to find the little bar thing that separates everyone’s groceries on the conveyer belt.

And let’s not forget the dogs who are picking up on everyone else’s stress and acting up because they’re level of anxiety is at an all time high with the damn tree and presents they’re not allowed to pee on or tear up; all the strangers who come by, having pictures taken with some stupid little elf on their back, the UPS guy ringing the doorbell every 30 minutes and having to spend more time outside or in their crate so that they’re not tripped over.

Then to top it all off the world was piling it on as well. You carried with you the stress of a potential fiscal cliff
and stared a fading NHL season square in the eye. (You may laugh, but NHL fans were struggling with both the nhl_lockout640_640lock out and the fact that people didn’t care.)

From right wing politicians to left wing hockey players and owners fighting, foreign nations in civil conflict, school shootings leaving us all emotionally drained and then of course people arguing over gun laws. I swear, just thinking about it makes me want to check some whiney congressman (or woman) into the boards with an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle.

But hey! You made it. It’s all history and somehow 2013 started off with some lights at the end of the tunnel. Despite a few bumps in the road and a few dollars missing from your paycheck, everyone made it to the other side. Family visits are over, presents are opened, lights are taken down (or at least turned off), hockey starts in two weeks and D.C. will live to fight another day.

So grab a Molson, order yourself a dozen chicken wings, put on a pair of underwear that Santa stuffed in your stocking and pat yourself on the back. As you do, look back at the past year and recognize all of your
accomplishments. Think about everything you experienced, everything you felt and everything you’ve learned.

Stop for a moment and consider how much stronger you are and how far you’ve come. You’ve answered a lot of questions and overcome a lot of issues. New ones will arise of course, but you’re better equipped to deal withPresident Obama Hosts Congressional Leaders To Discuss Fiscal Cliff them. You have a better sense of who you are and where your life is headed. This will be a year of continued growth and understanding; a year of discovering new strengths and abilities. You’ll learn a little more about who you are and what you’re capable of. Of what you’re deserving of and what you need to be happy. And come next Thanksgiving, you’ll find yourself even better equipped to navigate the stresses of another holiday season.

For now look at the new year as a fresh canvas. A chance to spread your wings just a little wider and let your breaths be just a little deeper. It’ll be tumultuous at times no doubt, but you have new tools and skills to carry you forward. Time to pick a new north star and start dreamin’.

In the words of Cakehole Presley, “Choose your spot, grab a rock and hold on.”

 

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