The Positivity Train

Riding down the road last week, my SO and kids were singing along with the radio.  Then “C’mon Ride It (The Train)” by Quad City DJ’s came on.  I started laughing and then turned around.  The kids were bug eyed and wondering why the adults in the car were head bobbing and getting our groove on.  Apparently, that song is old and weird.  Flabbergasted.  Yup, that’s the correct description when they laughed at us.  I remember school dances with that song.  I remember waiting for hours to record it when the radio played it during “Soul Jam” hour. 

by Google

I have reflected on that moment in the car quite a few times over the weekend.  What was it about that song?  Its happy.  Its fun.  Its community.  When I hear that song, I smile and become instantly transported to a time when positivity won, and intentions weren’t diluted into a talk show or twitter feed.  I’ve been on a positivity train for the past ten months.  With that train came a full dose of understanding worth.

To bring you on board the Positivity Train, I’d love to share some meme’s that I have placed around my office, some quotes from one of my favorite authors, and a writing from quite possibility the most profound book of self-worth I have ever picked up.

Do something that makes you smile today.

Call a friend and talk about nothing.

Stop and grab that favorite drink or snack that you are trying to quit enjoying.

Help a stranger.

C’mon, ride this train!

Addiction: One Woman at a Time

This post is in support of “Working on Us” and Beckie’s commitment to Mental Health awareness. Addiction is the topic for week 21 and I decided to share my own story of exposure to addiction. Check out Beckie’s Mental Mess blog.

Addiction is a disease. 

Addiction cannot be compartmentalized.

Addiction is a coping mechanism.

Addiction is contagious.

Addiction is not just about substances; it is instant gratifying behaviors.

Rarely do I come across a person that, in some way or another, has been unaffected by addiction.  As a young child, my biological father was an addict.  His choices eventually led him to prison.  The first photo of my life holds a story of its own: my mom, lying in a hospital bed, gazing down at me in her arms and the only visible side of her face is marred with a black eye and swollen cheek area.

My mother saved us from that life of addiction and violence.  Yes, the two often correlate.  After that rough start I wasn’t exposed to or really affected by substance addictions until I was around 35.  While I consistently worked for organizations that sought to serve these populations, those were never my specific department within the building.

Life happened and my own poor choices led to me spending ten months in a county jail.  This experience led to an eye-opening revelation and new passion regarding addictions, incarceration, and the general goodness of a human being.  My prior thought process was not consciously avoiding or judging those affected by addiction, but I certainly was not actively thinking, researching, and assisting.  One thing to note about my personality and character.  I am a helper.  I enjoy and naturally gravitate to those that need support, guidance, or to just be heard.  Over the years several young adults have stayed with my family as they started over, stepped out on their own, or just needed a bed to call their own.

While incarcerated I met roughly 60 different women, each with a unique story and each with an accentuated chapter or section in their lives overrun by addiction.  The charges that placed them in jail ranged from petty theft to attempted murder.  Each case driven by addiction.  Each woman broken down, defiant, and most ready to start over, but unable to maintain any sobriety for longer than 1-2 days after release.  Of those 60 women, I would eventually see 25 of them cycle through the system a few more times before my own departure.

What happened to me while incarcerated was a monumental shift in my own belief system and willingness to see an entire population of individuals that I had ignored for 35 years.  I began talking to the women.  I listened to their stories, learned about their families, and felt their desperate cries for help.  They knew they were addicts.  They knew about sobriety programs.  They had been through them all, rather court ordered or by self-admission.  What they hadn’t connected to was the foundation of their addictions, the tools needed to override the stronghold of addiction, and where to really start.

Addiction is pain.

Addiction is regret.

Addiction is loss.

Addiction is abandonment.

Addiction is personal.

My education in psychology and career in mental health treatments and program had equipped me long before this journey began.  The more I listened, the more passionate I became about leaving behind a message, or a mark on these women.  I had no desire to be just another inmate in their lives.  Late one evening, as I struggled to sleep, I hatched a plan for the rest of my stay.  I would seek out those in turmoil, not the ones that seemed more stable.  I would dedicate my time to individuals that were left out, not the ones that were more socially exciting and intriguing.  This wasn’t an easy path, but it became necessary.

My method?  I would teach.  After raising 5 teens and fostering/mentoring dozens more, I was familiar with angst, depression, trauma, and most importantly, the need to find purpose and promise.  While I am a spiritual person, I did not wish to allow that to be my guide in discussions with others.  I had read, and seen, how religion becomes a crutch for many incarcerated individuals.  I didn’t want to build rapport on a base that may be temporary.  I wanted to get down to the level below that.  So, I asked questions.  I knew nothing.  I allowed these women to educate me on a way of life that simply blew my mind.

As stories flowed, and trust began to grow, I was able to work with women that were serving long sentences, awaiting trial, and those that were just passing through. I continued a model of behavior that I had lived my life by that included the absence of physical violence, processing of feelings and emotions, using words instead of only actions, and absolute transparency.  Was this wholly accepted?  Absolutely NOT.  But this way of living was attractive.  I do not actively hold on to anger.  I do not surrender energy to negative forces, people, or opinions that have no chance of being neutralized or reversed.  And of an even greater significance, I accept my situation and find joy.  Yes, that’s right, I found great joy in my situation.  I often refer to my time in the county jail as an extended stay at summer camp.

The transformation and realization that addiction is not the person was slow and steady.  I began to see past damaged teeth, negative attitudes, controlling actions and words.  What was coming out from behind these surface identifiers was the real human.  Gradually lives began to take shape, and with about ten women, I was able to go deeper.  We spoke of their past, traumas, emotions, feelings, and addiction. 

I didn’t save everyone.  I didn’t save anyone, to be honest.  But I did offer myself as a resource and a light in what seemed to be very dark worlds.  At the time, and even still today, my way of life is foreign to many of these women.  It is not something they feel is ever attainable.  But they think about it.  The seed has been planted. 

For those that I did reach.  I was given the awesome opportunity to educate them and show them what coping skills that build a person up look like.  We began to break up a damaged foundation and lay the new, stronger, grounding in its place.  The new foundations were full of reasons.  Reasons why talking, helping, coloring, meditation, religion, children, family, jobs, etc. are options in place of addictions.  We spoke about feelings and how to describe them.  Emotions, often misunderstood, were given names and causes.  Above all, I was able to teach a method that involved seeking the reason for a feeling or emotions, and then processing that reason in response to the stress of their own body’s reactions.

I was not, and am not, the reason for anyone’s sobriety.  But I do know I made a difference.  That was what I set out to do.  Sadly, 12 out of 60 women I was incarcerated with have passed due to overdosing in the last 4 years.  These deaths serve as a reminder that the work is never done. 

Addiction is about mental health.

Sobriety isn’t about simple abstinence. 

Sobriety is about understanding why addiction became a lifestyle to begin with. 

Recovering from addiction is acknowledging and accepting our own reactions and allowing them to be expressed or processed in ways that lead us to move on, not stay stagnate in a haze of substance abuse that blinds from the truth.

I walked into the jail ready to do my time and get it over with.  I walked out with a new understanding of the people behind addictions.  I walked out with respect for individuals that often get no respect.  I forged friendships with women that haven’t had a true transparent friend for years, if ever.  Since my release, my home has been a refuge.  My kids are raised with a sensitivity to the struggles of others.  And I wake each day with a reminder that addiction does not define a person, nor does it make them unavailable to love or compassion.  In contrast, it makes them in need of it more than ever.

CTR 2019

Frozen in Time

Do you ever look at a picture and ache for the “you” you were at that moment?  I’ve been going through it lately.  “It” being a restructuring of my beliefs, on all fronts, and aligning or comparing them with the world that we live in.  At the same time, I’ve been redecorating my home office and hanging pictures that remind me of the amazing life I’ve lived and have yet to live. 

Think of who you were at different ages. How would you respond to today’s issues if you were that age now?

Maybe that first question doesn’t apply to you.  But what if the question were “do you ever think about your old self?” Maybe at 25, or just a decade ago?  That is an element of my latest reflections.  Now that I’ve spent roughly 90 seconds speaking in some dark and dismal code . . . I’ll get to my point.  This world, right now – today, SUCKS!

I came across a picture of myself and a former significant other.  The joy and laughter in that photo absolutely melts my heart.  Like, seriously, it’s a moment in time when things weren’t great, but on that day our joy was evident.  If I knew or had my eyes fully open at that moment, would I have had that level of joy?

Some of you may know, but if not, I have an extreme obsession with Rachel Maddow.  I think she is amazing.  Her journalistic vibe is catchy; she’s funny; super smart; and she’s a stone-cold dork.  She is my kinda people.  Recently I’ve been reading her new book, “Blowout”.  My mind is blown.  I find it absolutely ridiculous that I have lived in a world and time where corruption has been so evident, and I didn’t care.  I’m 40 and didn’t care until I was 37!  I take full responsibility for that.  I’ve lived in ignorant bliss.  But, in the words of my hilarious 4-year-old granddaughter, HOLY JUACAMOLE!

My workspace. Countless hours of research and trying to figure out what in the heck is going on in this world happen in this room.

My recent submersion in all things political has left me with a significant number of quandaries.  So many that, with great frustration, I just feel like there is no hope.   That, as Americans, we are led by a man that is so disgusting, rude, belligerent, volatile, and dismissive of anything that is reality breaks my heart.  I did not realize how patriotic I am until that very patriotism became under attack.  I deem myself an activist.  However, now, I see all the problems and am frozen by the enormity of the actions required to even remotely make a difference.

I don’t dare list the issues that plague my heart and mind.  There isn’t enough time and I will likely rant forever.  But we are working on some podcast episodes that will highlight current issues and discussion from multiple perspectives.  Additionally, I’m hopeful in the possibility of launching a new radio show that will air in Milwaukee and be available to stream online!  It’s always been a dream of mine to be on the radio so that’s a big deal!

To wrap it all up I’ll go back to my original thought.  I have spent the last 72 hours aching for a happier “me”.  What I have come to realize is that I am now, at this age, discovering and cementing a part of my belief system that many began forming in their twenties.  The struggle with the process is that I’m much more pensive and realistic now than I would have been at, say, 25.  Life and experience has create a hailstorm of doubt, confusion, and frustration that definitely would not have been present had I have taken the leap into political, social, economic, and global issues back then.  My passion would have been pure, but not as based on research and applicability.

Stay tuned for more . . . clearly, I haven’t made any concrete decisions yet.  LOL

I’m Fine

I saw a picture and post about a tattoo a few months ago.  Below, I’ve shared the picture. (Please note, I am not aware of the original poster, but do offer them the credit.) “I’m Fine” is a casual phrase we all use to move conversation along and often rely on those two words to reflect the attention elsewhere.  A young woman, suffering from chronic depression, inked her body with these words.  But there is a twist, to her it reads “I’m Fine”, to others it reads “Save me”.  Think on that for a minute.

Continuing the journey of letting go reminded me of that post and tattoo I saved in my phone.  It struck me simply because I believe we all suffer from a form of depression, but for some, it lingers and consumes us.  When I embarked on the journey of placing worth in people, time, and self, I had no idea that I would also be addressing deep hidden truths that led me to respond with “I’m Fine” more often, than not.

You see, getting rid of all those things that distracted me pushed me to examine the intangibles in my life.  I would love to report that, after ridding myself of electronics, negative media outlets, etc., I kept walking and never looked back.  But that wouldn’t be the truth.  The truth is that it continues to be a struggle even today.  To clear up any misconception, I am not advising you enter your home and junk everything, that is what I needed to do to start appreciating life and opportunity.

After that initial unloading in my mid-twenties, I struggled with consumption and distraction well into my thirties.  For a time, I would gain and accumulate, only to lose it due to stupidity, ignorance, life choices, or a mixture of all three plus seven more reasons.  The idea of what my priorities were became a wavering mindset and often fell to the waste side when tempted by new technology and expensive toys that I had to have.   

I taught my kids to use their money on experience, not things that don’t last.  Or purchase something that will be with you for years and will serve a valuable purpose other than a distraction from living.  If I only I led by example.  Around the age of 35 I experienced a year of profound loss and destruction.  While the details are private, what I will say is the life I knew changed in an instant.  Twelve months of death, sadness, financial loss, family struggle, and court battles led to a period that will mark the beginning of living this life.

I lost everything.  Everything that meant something and everything that simply just took up space.  In the end, everything was just another word.  Pictures, items that belonged to my late mother, electronics, files, records, furniture, collectibles, if you look around and see something, chances are it can be counted in my “everything”.  Devastation really doesn’t begin to explain the emotions that processed through my heart and mind.

As I sat wondering what I would do, I was reminded of the struggle I began a decade earlier to put worth in people and time.  So, I began to separate myself from the things I had no chance of recouping.  Instead, I focused on the people in my life.  Those that were around me, those that were far away, and those that I hadn’t even encountered yet.  For me, letting go translated into gaining everything.

Sitting here in my kitchen I look around and see stuff.  Most that know me are fully aware that I love Amazon and should probably be a key spokesperson for them.  But things have a different place in my life now.  People come first.  Experience comes first.  LIFE comes first.  Letting go carries so much more than walking to the trash with things I haven’t touched in years.  Letting go became a point in time.  Things stopped replacing my feelings and words began to reflect my true self at any given moment.

This journey hasn’t been easy and along the way I’ve learned valuable truths about myself, my past, and how I can live a transparent life.  What are my distractions?  Am I giving the people in my life the time they deserve?  Am I creating tasks to avoid a situation?  Am I “fine”? 

What is your distraction?  Are you really “fine” or do you need some saving too?

More To This Life

Letting go is a hard principle to tackle.  I grew up loving stuff and took great joy in collecting more things than I could ever need.  By the time I was 24, I had a hefty amount of debt to carry along with all the treasures, electronics, furniture, clothing, and vehicles I called my own.  Then something happened.


Working as a church assistant led me down a series of paths that required taking a serious look at my flaws, shortcomings, and misguided habits.  One morning, while doing devotions and working on a Bible study series that had continued to break me down, I was compelled to empty my life.  That can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, to me, it literally meant to EMPTY my life.

Throughout the study series I had been challenged each week to take a barebones approach to different areas of my life.  That week the challenge was to rid myself of all the things that blocked me from being transparent, authentic, and completely open to change.  I needed to take an inventory and explain why each thing was important to me and how, if it did, assist me in growth.  What I found was a house and office full of things that did nothing but build walls, prevent attentive leadership and relationships, and constantly worked to hold me back instead of pushing me forward.

That morning, before anyone came to the office, I systematically acted on the conviction of hurdles in my life.  It took 73 minutes to gather the most significant items that I knew were preventing me from living transparent.  These were items I had acquired through dishonesty, items that were purely negative, items that served as distractions from my goals, and items that I worshiped and gave more attention than my faith and responsibilities.  I put it all in the dumpster behind the office.

Later that day I was asked about a few of the items.  One was my computer, clearly an item that would be noticed in its absence.  My boss inquired about the meaning of these severe actions and why didn’t I donate the items.  My response was clear, and I still have no idea how it came out of me.  I simply stated that if they were a hindrance for me, then surely, they would be a hindrance for someone else.  There was a higher power at work that day.  When I doubted myself and this drastic change, I went to the dumpster and it had already been emptied.  It was not our usual trash pickup day.

You may not be a religious person, and that is perfectly ok.  This really isn’t about my faith.  Its about realizing what, or who, controls you.  There is more to this journey and over the next week I’ll continue to share.  But today, just think about this: what or who is blocking or preventing you from living?  This is a deep inquiry. Take time to really think about it.  For me, it was electronics, books, and music that were taking my attention in ways and places that weren’t productive.  They weren’t helping to shape the best version of me, instead, they were creating the bumps and bruises that were sustaining a stagnate me.

Save Me, San Francisco

There are several smells that I find to be an assault to my nature. Olives, along with their slimy existence, stink. They also take up an entire section of my local grocer. Why? Because apparently some people like them. I’ve also learned that some of those people are my friends. That is a situation that may need some remedy.

Other smells? Oh . . . let’s see.

Hard working man. Now there is a smell that doesn’t bother me one bit. If he, or she (if that’s your life) walks in after a day of manual labor and being awesome and smells like sweat and accomplishment, hold the door for them and give them some love. That is a smell that rarely gets old.

Salmon. Yup, it gets its own sentence. Purely because it shouldn’t be anywhere near other words that I associate with my native language. I can’t stand it! Not only does it taste nasty, it is one of the worst smelling fish when it is being prepared.

There is only one other smell that truly gets on my nerves and has, on occasion, led me to desperate measures: teenage feet. There are not words yet formed to describe the absolute hell I lived in while my older loves were still living at home. I have never smelled anything so foul, assaulting, stagnate, or permeating in my life. To give it a reference, allow me to share an occurrence of the levels to which feet can cause delirium.

My love, Ari, counting her “piggies”.  She inherited the stinky feet curse from her lovable mama.

We lived in a town home. My ex-husband, our daughters (16 and 9), and our son (15). Many days came and went without us knowing exactly who was walking around with “Frito” feet, so I just blamed everyone. One morning it was everywhere. I sat in my chair, it smelled like feet. I laid on the couch, it smelled like feet. I stood in the kitchen, IT SMELLED LIKE FEET!!!! I went to the bathroom, and oh my word, it smelled like FEET!

Enough was enough. Insanity kicked in and I was on the verge of being homicidal if I didn’t cure this nastiness soon and very soon, or I would be going to see the king! I rounded up the natives and we had to find the culprit. I knew that ground zero was the garage. But this particular foot smell had an extra spin on it. As I contemplated how to extract it, I honed in on the fact that the special seasoning to this one was most certainly a dead animal. It probably suffocated due to attempted bedding in a shoe or something.

Off to the garage we went. We moved everything. And just so you know, I’m a junior level hoarder. We emptied the loft, the freezer, every kid toy, tub, drawer, and vehicle out of the garage. I should also mention this was at 8am on a Saturday (hehehe). As we neared the end of this little adventure, my older daughter said “Mom, its my shoes”. My reply was simply a rebuff because this had gone beyond the usual foot smell. No way this was a shoe that I encountered on every other day. Oh no, this smell was EXTRAordinary. It had been sauced, baked, mummified, twice baked, drenched in vinegar, and then sat out in the Vegas sun for about 48 hours. Then and only then would one of the kid’s shoes be even remotely as devastating to my senses as the current situation.

Well, after everything had been cleaned and moved out, the only thing that remained was the shoe pile. Low and behold . . . the smell led me straight to the jungle. The cooked booty and petrified funk that was this putrid stench was in, around, or near the forbidden shoe stack. My daughter was right. She had somehow managed to elevate her stink game and had prepared for us a nice dish of rot disguised as a shoe that wasn’t even a month old. Needless to say, those shoes received the stamp of disapproval and were banished to the dumpster 200 yards away and in my opinion, that wasn’t nearly far enough.

Have you ever been in jail? I have. There is moment in which you realize there is nothing you can do but wait it out. The uncomfortable feeling becomes your friend and you just make do. Well, that is the same feeling I have become accustomed to when I am faced with a smell that permeates every square inch of my life. A person’s breath, its like being in a cell. I can’t escape it! And of course, feet . . . I am a prisoner in my own home with this one. That is why I created the “process”. It has never failed to give at least two days of relief and it’s required of anyone that has, on occasion, assaulted me with their foot smell. Take note, this recipe, and required actions, will help!

  • First . . . wash all bedding, pillows, blankets, etc. that have come in contact with the feet.
  • Second . . . strap the person down.
  • Third . . . get a basin, fill it with hot water.
  • Fourth . . . mix in “man” body wash, I prefer Axe or Irish Spring, Dawn dish soap, and Listerine.
  • Fifth . . . insert the animals, ahem, feet and soak them for 5 minutes.
  • Sixth . . . grab a foot scrub that has exfoliating dirt in it. Scrub the living hell out of the feet! I use a Dead Sea Salt scrub. Make sure you get between the towels and up to the ankle.
  • Seventh . . . Rinse in the soaking water and then scrub the feet again with the water mixture.
  • Eighth . . . Towel dry and apply a moisturizing lotion.

This process should leave you with a pleasant, unassaulting, life experience for at least 2-3 days. If there is still a lingering problem, do this daily as there may be layers of funk you have yet to address.

Happy feeting and thanks for stopping in and listening to one of the many situations I deal with daily.

Shamming Is Bad, Mmmkay?

Stay at home mom shamming . . . STOP IT!

Ok folks.  I’ve been inspired.  I don’t believe I am a negative person, but some may differ.  That is ok, everyone gets an opinion.  But I’ve got some things to settle with the world.  Are they important?  To me, yes; to you, maybe.  Welcome to what may become a series and will definitely become a part of the podcast that will launch this fall.

Today we are gonna talk about shamming.  While there are a lot of things we could shame folks on, I’m stuck on the trend of shamming stay at home moms.  I do recognize dads who fill the role; however I haven’t seen this particular free time hobby aimed at them.

As a disclaimer, you might just call this judging.  Feel your feels, be you.  I personally see this issue as a lack of perspective.  So, lets get to it . . .

Of course, the most frequent place I have seen this practice is on Facebook in parent groups and in general comments.  But I have seen it amongst friends, at the park, at the grocery store, on television/media outlets, etc.  For reference sake, I’ll give an example:

A recent question posted in a parent’s group:

“I’m looking for a way to stay at home with my kids.  No judgement, its just something I feel strongly about.  Can anyone offer some advice?  Ways to make a little bit of income or ways to cut back and be able to afford it?”


“Why disrupt your life when your kids will be going to school soon?  What if you can’t get employment when you return?”

“I don’t understand this, why are mom’s (and dads) making this choice?  Wouldn’t you rather have financial stability?”

“I have friends that are stay at home parents and I honestly don’t know what they are always talking about being tired, not having enough time, etc.  I mean, they aren’t cramming an 8-10hr workday


“Do you pay childcare?  How old are the kids?  There’s always avon – I hear you qualify for government aide when one parent stays home and that makes up the difference.”

Aren’t you disgusted?  I haven’t made any of this up and I can’t believe people are so rude and dismissing.  I mean, are people really this ignorant?  I have been a stay at home mom.  I’ve also be the breadwinner while my ex-husband stayed at home with the kids. 

As a current stay at home mom I feel as though its high time this “shamming” was put to bed.  Yes, it is a choice, but damn, it’s a choice that is made after much thought and, for some, due to circumstances out of their control.

I’ve come up with some truths about being a stay at home parent:

  1. It’s not glorious all the time, for some of us, it never is.
  2. That joy you sometimes feel when you’ve finally dropped the kids off at day care and realize the car is actually silent?  Yeah . . . we may be at a home, but there are days I would kill for that second of joy.
  3. We know how fortunate we are.  We don’t miss milestones and we have amazing connections with our children.  We also have direct control of their learning and development. 
  4. While #3 is an amazing truth and honor, we also don’t always have strong and frequent friendships.  Our kids are usually with us and folks aren’t looking to go out with the entire family in tow.  Adult conversation is under appreciated by many.  We appreciate it.  I’ve had hour long conversations with the customer service rep from several providers.  It’s not about poop or popsicles, so if I need to talk about how they can serve ME better, I’m in!
  5. Yes, some of us use a babysitter.  When you are keeping kids alive, you aren’t always able to get your own errands and tasks completed.
  6. Finance talk is taboo.  Stop asking people how they afford it, please.  Beyond answering a direct question from a stay at home parent, this should never be a part of the conversation. 
  7. We won’t take our blessings for granted if you agree to recount all of yours as well.  Let’s face it, there are some days you’d like to stay home and there are lots of days I’d give my third big toe to put on a decent outfit, chat with co-workers, help a few folks, and be compensated for it. 
  8. For us, being home is what we choose.  It’s a choice, just like everyone else has made to not be at home.  It may not seem fair, it may seem one sided or ridiculous, but it is a choice.

OK!  I’m done.  Enough with the drama.  If anyone would like to experience stay at home parenting, you are more than welcome to come hangout with us any day of the week.  Come prepared.  Don’t worry about cleaning, I never get around to that anyway.  Wear clothes that can be mended, bring extra shoes, don’t worry about washing your hair (trust me), leave all valuable in the car . . . better yet, leave them at home.  I would encourage a bit of mindfulness on your commute over.  Don’t visit the gym first, you’ll get quite the workout here, that’s a promise.  If you are a guy, wear a cup.  If you are a female, well . . . you might want to wear a cup too.

That Escalated Quickly

Let’s talk relationship advice and my current rambling thoughts.

You may be sitting there wondering why on earth I would even attempt to comment on this topic.  I mean, lets face it, I had a starter husband.  Then I got another lined up as replacement, but that didn’t work out either.  I don’t just have a dismal batting average, I’m in the dirt folks!  But, a lot can be learned from observation.  More importantly, a lot can be learned from having no scruples and giving anything and everything a shot. 

Of course, there is another reason this topic is on my mind.  Facebook.  It’s the devil . . . but I can’t look away.  Recently a woman posted anonymously (OP – Original Poster) within a local parents Facebook group that she has been cheating on her spouse with a fellow sports parent (who is also married).  Our lovely group than launched into quite the colorful conversation that has reach epic numbers of participation, gained some of the funniest meme’s I’ve ever seen, and broached the subject of compassion vs. disgust.  Obviously, I fell somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.  I mean, I still don’t understand why the post was made.  It was roughly 17 lines of expressing guilt, lust, shame, destiny, and embarrassment.  Nery a question was asked.

Moving on, this post got me thinking.  What is it that we all want?  I would love to stumble upon the perfect man, a dream job, a mansion, and a yacht, but I don’t see any of that happening!  I feel as though my time on match, eHarmony, plenty of fish, speed dating, tinder (I clearly misunderstood the sole purpose of that situation), newspaper personals, AOL, yahoo chats, myspace, Xanga, and the wonderful Facebook have afforded me expert status.  While that probably isn’t remotely true, we are just going to pretend it is for the next several minutes.  Deal? Great.

I can’t sit here and say, “shame on you”.  I also am not able to sit here and say “well, mistakes happen, just be careful”.  I find both of those to be the exact opposite of who I am.  What I can say is that we are surrounded by struggling, broken, and failed relationships.  I continue to be astounded at the rate and number of divorces in our current culture.  I am one of those, and I am not ashamed.  What this entire subject has done is make me contemplate how I approach relationships that are broken by infidelity.  I found it quite easy to laugh and make jokes at the above OP.  Possibly because I have no idea who it is, or even more possible because jokes and laughing are two of my favorite past times.  But at the expense of who?

A commenter made a very valid point in saying “I wonder if the OP is watching this and what they are feeling/experiencing from all the comments”.  Hmm . . . well, I doubt she’s feeling any better. 

That leads me to the overall question or quandary.  How do we respond when someone’s actions threaten a relationship?  Do we pick sides?  To the naked eye it seems there is a clear divide.  But what do we REALLY know?  Honestly, we don’t know anything.  All my experience and failed attempts haven’t taught me anything worthy of be a productive part of the conversation.  Even those who have been married for 40 years may not have the answers.   You know who does?  The 4 adults that are involved and ultimately need to make the decisions.

In the end, I don’t need to fall on either side of compassion or disgust.  Its not my business.  While it’s been fun and I certainly didn’t help the situation, it brought me to a very significant crossroads.  I love Facebook.  I love it for the connections, the ability to keep in touch with friends and family all around the world, and because I get to be me 100% of the time.  I get to be me, even when I realize after the fact that “me” is in the wrong.

I post personal struggles in part because I strive to live an authentic life.  I utilize social media to be transparent and to be held accountable.  I do not use Facebook to air dirty laundry, launch wars with others, or feed the gossip mill.  Those are never my intentions.  I understand that we all react differently, and this post certainly touched some significant parts of my purpose and reasoning within social media, relationships, and just in general, humanity.

Initially, the post that led me to this blog entry was nothing more than a joke and a few people that seriously needed to get their wits together.  Strangely, it is transformed into an introspective look at the little ways we judge others.  What are we looking for?  To not be judged.

Letting Go

I’m having a life altering moment right now. Some of you may have read a few of my posts discussing a huge yard sale we are having this week. I only do 1 Sale a decade (😆😂😆😂🤷🏼‍♀️).

As I’ve gone through my house and purged things I haven’t touched in 2 years, I came to my beloved library. I treasure books. I long for the places and the people that are crafted within the pages. But as I stood there I realized holding onto a book, or giving it up, won’t change these memories.

So, for what will be the second time in my life, I am intentionally choosing to LET GO. Yes, I’m shedding tears, but more because I sincerely hope the person that picks each book gets the same joy I did.

I kept my favorites. The books I talk about often and books that hold my dry tears, belly laughs, and transformational moments. They are a rare find in terms of who I am today and will always remain in my library, on the highest shelf, looking down on my family and reminding us all that an escape is simply a page turn away.

Where Do I Belong?

Going through files I came across this gem. I took a course a while ago that pushed me to explore creative writing. I loved it and this week I’m going to share some of those goodies!!

Walking through the doors on my first day of junior high I was speechless. Even though everyone around was familiar, something was different. The new building gave the impression that entrance on its own changed you from the inside out. Classmates that used to be my friends were merely acquaintances now. Apparently, growing up meant that you had to start all over. As the first days of junior high grew into weeks, something happened.  Everyone had to belong to someone else. Suddenly, we emerged from grade school with the inability to be alone. I have learned over the years that this realization became a way of life from that moment on. We all need to feel wanted and want to be needed.

 When in time did this desire to build cliques begin. Looking back through history I found instances where individuals came together in their own sects. In Biblical times the disciples were a group; the Pharisees and Sadducees were together; even the priests had their own inner circle. The United States was founded on the beliefs and dreams of an inner circle. Through these recollections it has become clear to me that as a race, we need to belong. We were born different, raised different, taught different, and matured different. But those differences bind us together in some form of social interaction.

 I find it interesting how social we are as a human race. The need to find a group feeds this longing. Even a hermit is needed by someone or something. While the majority of the world seeks out a group of likeminded and commonly grounded foes, the average hermit finds solace in four walls of shelter. After all, there is no part of history that dictates who or what we must belong to . We all scoff when reports surface of an old lady with 500 cats in her house. She longed for fur balls and the soft purr of a friend that enjoyed her company. Who are we to judge?

 This idea of finding a place to belong began way before junior high. But the lasting effects of this desire surface around the ages of eleven or twelve. Friends become more than someone you see at school or play with on the weekend. Friends become your guide and, in some cases, your moral compass. The groups formed in junior high have a fifty percent chance of surviving the social pool that is high school.

 Entering the doors of high school offers a similar experience to junior high. The difference is that we’ve had two or three years of practice. The halls are bigger, the teachers are meaner, the lines are longer, and the expectations are much higher. Suddenly we realized that finding a group needs to happen immediately, this can’t wait. All around groups are forming like a mass exodus to the only remaining ant hill in the field. Where do we belong, why must we belong? Do we stand out or fall in line?

 Even Aristotle and Plato had an inner circle. They were the brilliant minds of our past so, they must have had a heads up on this “belonging” business. Now that high school has taken over our lives the social need is greater. If we don’t belong to anyone or anything the days get longer, the tasks get harder, and the end feels like it may never have a sunrise. Once we found a place, a people that understood us, or so we thought, life became easier. These groups and cliques helped us navigate through struggles and life lessons hard fought. But were they the right guides? Did they genuinely care about us? 

 This innate desire to belong lives with us forever. We feel great relief when the diploma lands in our palm and the pomp and circumstance plays its last tune. The survival of the fittest has come to end and now, growing up wasn’t so hard to do – or so we thought. Life moved on at a quick pace, but suddenly we realized that this longing hasn’t gone away. Not only has it grown, it has become more complex. The things and people we need are more sensitive, their needs are greater, their lives are evolving, and most importantly no one stands still for long. If you take an extra minute to fix your hair in the mirror you might miss their departure.

 Now we must find a new belonging. The stakes are higher, while the formation of the school ground is in the rear-view mirror, the gathering of more sophisticated means is a figment through the windshield. But what do these groups look like? How, in a world of millions of adults, and things, do we find where we belong. Suddenly the need for guidance is lost, but the need for reassurance is much stronger. We are not growing into people any longer, we are trying to maintain what we have grown.

 This longing, this deep desire, is it required. Can we manage on our own? According to God and his followers, absolutely not. But what about those people that don’t believe in a higher power, why do they congregate? I have come to believe that no matter what or where we put our faith, the desire to share and have common ground is stronger than any self-disciplined individual. For that matter, even animals survive in groups. Walking through the zoo, nine out of ten residents have company. So, what will come of this odd inner struggle to find a place?

 Everywhere we look there are options. We can become athletes, join a book club, become communication Rembrandts, or simply fade into the collections we have created to fill the void. Whatever we chose, a selection is made. Life is about belonging. Beginning new jobs, joining new clubs, and becoming a member of a bigger family all raise that familiar feeling and universal question of “Where do I belong?”

 I have found that this simple question can be traced back to some of the memories and events of our past. Inevitably, at some point we chose the wrong group or person to belong to. Choice were made that took us down a path not so bright. I find it ironic that, while this longing is bread into us, the decisions aren’t always positive. Something we must do carries the weight of being completely wrong and life altering. Ask the guy in cell 453 at the local prison. He’ll tell you he belonged, but that belonging was built on progress not sustainability. How can such mere desire be backtracked and filled with disaster? I guess you could ask Adam and Even the same question. They are the ones that got us into this mess. They needed to belong to wisdom. Now they, nor us, know what to do with it.

 As a child we longed for the days of making our own decisions. As a teenager we would daydream of the moment our lives would become free and full of adventure. As new adults set free in a magic world, we begin to realize that not much has changed from our days on the recess yard. The view is bigger, and the needs are greater, but the outcome is still inevitable. Do we join the geek table? Or maybe the cheerleaders well accept us. Worst case scenario, the band cluster always has room for one more. The faces may change as an adult, but the need to belong will never go away. It just becomes more sophisticated. length;d