4/18/2015

Oregon and Mom's Memorial Service

I don't have it in me right now to write a full post on Oregon and my mom's service, but wanted to share a few highlights:

  • Cried freely and profusely when I first arrived at my Mom and Dad's house.  My dad was sleeping and I brought stuff in from the car wandered around the house looking at her stuff and weeping like a waterfall.  It surprised me how it just rose up and flowed out of me like that.  Happened again when I was alone in the house, packed up and readying to leave.
  • Lots of family and friends came to my Mom's service.  She was a quilter and they were all there, plus her family from Nebraska, including a cousin and his wife who I hadn't seen in a decade or so.  People from my Dad's side of the family came, too, including his brother and wife, and two of my cousins who were like siblings to me growing up, since we were around the same age.  Lots of crying, and even my Dad cried.  I cried several times when my family was speaking - my Dad's talk was especially heart-aching and beautiful as he talked, through tears a couple times, about their life and his feelings about her - almost when I was speaking but I was able to carry on, and then during the moving slide show of her life.  Sweet and sad videos at the beginning of her grandkids singing to her and at the end of everyone singing to her at her last birthday in January.
  • My sister's friends were there, and I have to say they were really helpful and stepped up to support my sister.  Very good friends.  We all went to my brother's that night and it was a bit odd to have drinks and social time but I had some good conversation with her friends and my cousin.
  • After the eight-hour drive up there, my back gave out in a weird way it never had before - for several days, a few times a day, something in my lower back (but not the lowest, up a ways from tailbone) would slip or give and I would experience a lot of pain, a couple times falling to my knees.  I took a lot of Advil.  Just went to the doctor today and of course today and yesterday it was better and I didn't experience that slip/shift feeling.  She said she thought it was a severe back spasm; that if the disk had slipped, it wouldn't just be pain in the moment, it would continue on.  It's so strange though, because it really felt like something wasn't aligned and was slipping.  I'm sure stress and the long hours driving contributed to the situation.
  • I got to hold my new baby niece, D, and oh my goodness, she is the sweetest little bug ever!  Really tiny of course, at only one month, and a really mellow baby.  When you hold her, she snuggles into you, and when she falls asleep, she gets heavier.  I'm sure many of you know what I mean.  It's just the loveliest feeling.  I got to see my niece and nephew, J and E play in soccer and baseball games, too, that was pretty fun.  Thank God J is kicking the ball this year; last year, bless her heart, she simply refused to have anything to do with putting her foot on the ball.  She's not super competitive trying to take the ball or anything, but when it's right in front of her or it comes to her, she will kick it.  Yay J!  And E, oh man is he a little athlete, much to his parents delight.  I'm not biased (well not much) in saying that he had considerably better ball-handling skills than anyone else on the field.  He had to hold back sometimes so as not to dominate the whole thing.  I'm sure his parents have been playing with him a lot at home (I may have mentioned my sister and her husband played sports all their lives and were college athletes).  J and I had a nice coloring and giggling session one night, too.
  • Since I was staying at my parent's house, I had the opportunity to hang out with Dad a few times, which was nice - mainly just watching tv together and eating a couple take out meals, talking about family or the service.  It was funny how much Zoey loved him and would go crazy trying to jump on this lap and lick him.  Stuff I'm trying to train her not to do, of course, but she just got so excited to get attention from him, it was pretty cute.  Dad is not emotionally expressive and shut down once or twice when I asked him direct feeling-related questions.  He's smoking some and not eating well.  He said that the week following the service maybe he would start getting and cooking some simple, healthier groceries.  I hope so.
  • Okay, one kind of disturbing aspect to the trip that I almost hesitate to bring up because it's embarrassing and confusing, is that my Dad and my aunt (my mom's sister) were flirting.  Now, maybe this is some crazy rebound coping mechanism, especially since my Dad doesn't process emotions well.  Maybe it's a way to connect with Mom, since her sister and her were close and look and act alike in many ways.  Regardless, it seemed WAY TOO SOON and was unsettling to say the least.  But Dad has been so devastated that in a way you just want him to be happy.  My brother's wife, who is known for saying inappropriate things for shock value, said something about it at their house the night after the service.  She basically brought it up to my aunt's kids (and I was at the table too) like it was a good idea.  I just shook my head and said her name in a kind of warning tone and "too soon."  I told my sister and brother-in-law later, and they thought it was really out of line.  But then after that, I noticed that my Dad was flirting with her.  And I think I heard him say something about coming out to visit her in Nebraska.  Not sure what else to say about that other than - yuck.  And it's his life.  And time will tell if it's just a bizarre coping mechanism or what.

Now, I'm back, and finishing out the last weeks of the semester at my college as I prepare to pack up my stuff in storage containers the end of next week.  I actually haven't started packing at all, but I have packing help arranged for next weekend and have scheduled those storage "pods" to be delivered and picked up.  I need to get some boxes this weekend, as I continue to research and look at possible places.  One potentially exciting possibility is living with a woman I met on a F@cebook "conscious housing" page, with whom I share a common friend.  She and her boyfriend are expecting, and I told her about my hopes for adoption.  She's amenable to finding a place together and possibly sharing some meals and childcare, etc.  Looking around, the most we would likely get is three-bedroom, so the kids would have to share eventually or something if it were long-term.  Not sure how that would work out.  Anyway, I'm excited about the idea and of possibly not needing to move again in a few months to a year.  We are seeing a place tomorrow morning, so wish us luck. 

If I can't find a place, I have confirmed with my friend, E, that I can stay with her, even though I think I might be sleeping on a couch - yikes.  Her house is very nice, though, and we are good friends which would make things easier.  It would be a better situation if her nephew weren't also living there.  In any case, it's good to have a safety net to leave my stuff in storage for a few weeks/month if I needed a little more time to find a place.

Building my business has unfortunately but necessarily gone on the back burner.  I hope to be able to spend a few hours this weekend but also need to grade a bunch of papers and do some planning.  With everything going on with my mom passing and her service, and difficult finances, and moving, and my landlord being rude and unkind, I have that feeling of overwhelm, like I can't handle it all and if one more little thing happens, I'll collapse.  I did have a good cry today to my friend and former housemate, K, which was very helpful.

4/05/2015

Happy Easter


Happy Easter to Everyone!  For me, it's a pretty normal day because my family is all in Oregon.  I am going to go get a pizza later this afternoon, so that will be my Easter fun.  Seeing pictures of my nieces, nephew, and little cousin is fun, as well. 

Looking forward to seeing them next week, though feeling somber about my mom's memorial.  Went through some pictures today and sent them to my sister who is creating a nice slideshow.  The show will be accompanied by songs that were special to my mom and dad.  There will also be three songs sung live, and it looks like I will end up speaking and saying a poem.  I wasn't sure I was going to, but now I'm feeling I should and want to, even though it will be hard.  My dad, sister, and brother will also be speaking, and I think we will have some coffee and cookies afterwards so people can talk. 

I was hoping my landlord would give some flexibility on my moveout date, due to my mom's passing and traveling to Oregon, but he left this kind of sh*tty voicemail (after I initially asked and he initially said no but then seemed to be considering it) saying - in an apologetic tone that didn't match what he was saying - that he needed me out by the 29th, and that he had been helping me and had given me "an extra 30 days."  What?  His "help" was giving me a sheet of local house listings that were way above my range and passing on a couple business referrals that never responded to my emails.  I appreciate the referrals but I sent him the email template and he passed it on to them.  And when he said "extra 30 days," I guess he was referring to the legal requirement to give me 30 days notice?  This is countered by the fact that he initially said this would likely be a longer-term living situation, and that if anything changed, he would give me a few months notice. 

The main thing is that I have been unexpectedly dealing with my mom's passing - it would have been very difficult to jump into house searching in the initial weeks of grieving, and traveling to Oregon takes further time away from what is a very difficult search in the Bay Area. 

So that is my lament, but there is nothing I can do about it, so I am just sucking it up and going for it, doing the best I can to find a place.  I applied for an affordable studio/one-bedroom I haven't heard back from yet and went to see two places yesterday.  They both are okay/do-able except for Zoey.  The first one is very rugged with lots of construction projects going on all around the house, and the yard is not enclosed.  The second one was great, except her dog - a sheltie/collie mix - barked sharply at something outside for much of the time I was there and tried to nip me once when I was petting her.  The woman said several times that her dog liked to have a "deputy to boss around."  Well, I'm sorry, but I don't want Zoey "bossed around" all the time, and I don't think Zoey would take to that either. 

So, the search continues... Thank God my good friend has offered a room for me to stay as a last resort, if needed, until I found a place.  It's not ideal, since her nephew is currently staying there, as well, but I'm grateful to have a safety net.  Tomorrow, I will schedule the moving container drop-off and pick-up and send an email about a packing party.  sigh.  I think I'll have a glass of wine with that pizza.

3/27/2015

Quick Check-In

I'm doing pretty well, following my mom's passing.  I have cried several times, as I remember things she said or that we did together; gifts she gave me or just things she enjoyed.  Life is not fair in that she was taken away from grandkids who loved her, especially the oldest, J, had a sweet connection with her and I'm so sad for that loss.  I will be going up to Oregon again in a couple weeks for my mom's service on the 10th. 

But life continues on here in California, and I have been able to work and teach and mostly continue with my activities.  I had my second big client attraction (business coaching) program weekend last weekend and had some good insights around how my own blocks and perceptions around money and success are getting in the way of encouraging clients to make an investment in working with me.  I realized that part of me still believed in a "Fairy Tale" that prince charming or someone would come and rescue me and lift me up into the life I was meant to be living.  Or something like that.  So, I am trying to shift my perspective to knowing that "I" am the Hero of my own story and "I" need to fiercely pursue my goals and dreams and basically save myself.  It's a process.

Also, I have decided to not say that I will help my clients transition into well-paying work until I am a bit farther down that path myself.  I AM completely confident in my ability to hold space for exploration, ask powerful questions and provide powerful assessments and tools for my clients to focus on their purpose and passions and to connect these with a unique, meaningful career path in the world.  I can help with job search/resume stuff, of course, as well.  But until I'm a step further down the road, I don't think I will include "transition to a well-pay career."  I want to share all the business tools I'm learning in my program, but it's only been two months, so perhaps in a few months I can add some business/entrepreneurial focus as well - something I'm also interested in.

Next week is Spring break and I'm looking forward to some extra time to devote to my business and to figuring out my next steps with housing.  I am thinking of looking for a temporary living situation that would allow me to save some money and give me time to look for a great situation that would support my adoption goals.  Possibly living with a friend or in a small, inexpensive place, and putting most of my furniture in storage. 

That's it for now... oh, also, not sure if I shared that SB and I are done?  I might have shared that, but I feel okay about that.  I really liked him but I've come to the conclusion I need to date someone who is and "F" or Feeling personality type so that we share a desire to go deep emotionally and with ideas.  For SB, this was hard and uncomfortable.

3/13/2015

I Love You, Mom, Rest in Peace


My Mom passed away on Tuesday early morning.  Didn't go to work that day after I got the tearful call from my brother and, after picking up some groceries, spent most of the day at home, hibernating and processing.

Went in to work Wednesday, which was pretty tough, but okay.  Was planning to go in yesterday, then my car broke down, and I had to take it into the shop for a repair.  My air conditioner will have to be non-functional for now (versus a $900 replacement), but it's running well.

SB was helpful and comforting on Tuesday night.  We are still seeing each other, and the other guy has gone by the wayside.  He was too unavailable and unresponsive.

Anyway, I'm making it through okay - it's so strange how you can see evidence of how alive they were not long ago, like in texts and on Facebook, but now they are gone and that's hard to reconcile.   But would appreciate your prayers and thoughts for my family, especially my Dad.  They were married for almost 40 years.

3/08/2015

Why Blog?

I really enjoy blogging and get a lot out of it as far as expressing and clarifying my feelings and thoughts.  Also, I like knowing you are reading and following along.  

With regard to the second statement, I am having one of those moments I have had before, and have seen others have, in which I'm wondering who the majority of "you" are... Is what I'm saying landing with you?  I know the vast majority of people just skim through blogs, reading when they can in the midst of busy lives.  

It's kind of vulnerable to say, but I will admit that comments mean something to me.  In case you were wondering, they matter to me.  Even if I only get two or three responses, which seems to be the norm (out of supposedly, according to my stats tracker, around 50 page views per day).  
* Thank you to my few regular commenters and friends!

It looks like lots of folks come over from the blog, "Life and Love in the Petri Dish," who I know has a lot larger audience.  So, if it's true that comments indicate connection, maybe this blog is passing entertainment for many, and there is less of a connection to my posts.  I don't fault this or think it is bad... but I do like to have a sense that someone is out there, and that my words are landing.  Personally, there are maybe a dozen blogs I read regularly and comment on - not every time, but on a regular basis.

So, I am not sure what to do, if anything.  Maybe I'm feeling a little lost, like I'm writing in a void.  Maybe I need to be more focused and write more for my audience.  I started writing on January 9, 2011 and spoke about my journey of trying to conceive a child, as well as recently losing my job and seeking another one that had more of what I wanted.  I talked about making choices that didn't fit my family norm (that they actively disapproved of) and, through the title of this blog, wanting to claim my life as my own.  I have ended up sharing a lot about dating and, for a couple years, about trying to conceive with my partner.  Personal growth and self-improvement have also been big themes in my life and writing; since I'm an introvert, it's been very helpful to get out of my head! 

But my primary blogging connections have always been through the TTC and SMC communities.  At 46, I think I am done with ttc, though I am actively taking steps towards adoption.  I am continuing to date and am on the cusp of possibly getting into another relationship.  I only post every 10 days to two weeks so maybe that's not enough to stay on people's radar.  Maybe it's time to reach out to other communities, as well, so that more women might read and relate to what I am sharing.  Perhaps one of these new communities for me will be adoption or foster adoption.  

I know I want to stay connected to the few folks who I have come to know and consider friends.  Even though most now have kids, I love hearing about their lives, and hope to join them in the next year or two.  My brother's wife just had their second child, so my extended family is very kid-focused.

If you blog and have feedback, I welcome hearing it. And if you are following and would like to continue reading my blog, would you please comment and say "hi"?  What do you connect with in my posts or what would you like to hear more about?  Do you have any questions?  I would love to hear from you.

3/01/2015

The Tale of Two Men...

Well, maybe not a complete tale, but the start of one...

First of all, I want to thank those of you that responded to my last post about my mom; it really meant a lot to me.  Thanks for continuing to hold her and my family in your thoughts and prayers.

Onward with the tale...

This seemed an appropriate picture somehow...

I think I have had a couple more dates with SB since the last time I posted.  We went to brunch and a book art exhibit, which was pretty fun.  My type of day!  Of course, I love brunch!  And art seems to be a great bonding activity for SB and I.  Then, before I left to Oregon, he came to my theater group, which was having a newbie night.  It was just okay (continuing our up and down theme).  I know I was tired - I think both of us were - and one exercise he and I did together during the class was actually disconnecting.  I shared something about myself in an exercise and his response was sort of flippant, I think.  I had already been judging him physically, especially in comparison to my beefy landlord/housemate, J, who leads the class.  Afterwards, we went out for a glass of wine and loosened up a little but it wasn't a great night overall.

Then I went to Oregon, then I had my weekend workshop, so it was kind of non-stop busy.  We reconnected Friday on the phone as he headed out of town to visit his daughter in Santa Barbara and made plans to get together tomorrow night.  But we had another emotional disconnect on the phone when I shared a vulnerable exercise from my weekend workshop and he started relating it to a story about Mitt Romney.  WTF!  Ridiculous.

But.  We talked through it and I was very direct in saying I need empathy.  I need to be able to share emotional things and feel like he is "with" me, cares, and is at least trying to understand.  He said that everyone wants that, which is probably true, and nice of him to say.  He said he sees that he has a pattern of disconnecting at these times and that it is something he wants to change.  Something about fear of disappointment or not being able to handle it or something.  Anyway, we came up with a "safe word" (kinda funny) where I will say, "Stay with me now," when he does this and he will try to stay connected, hopefully without getting triggered into his fear of disappointing me.  Good to have a game plan anyway, and we will see how it goes.

I have said several times that maybe he needs to be with someone who is more cerebral and less sensitive, but he doesn't seem to want that?  Underneath, I am also thinking that maybe I need to be with someone who is more feeling-oriented and sensitive, but I do like a lot of things about our connection, not the least of which that I generally feel comfortable and like I can be myself with him.

The other guy in the picture, C, is the guy I went to the live music and dancing event with three weeks ago.  It was a great night!  He hasn't had a lot of dance lessons, but he has good natural ability and was playful and fun to dance with.  He is cute and has an athletic build I find sexy.  I would say, though, that he's kind of inward-focused and quirky... definitely smart - he's pursuing his PhD in public policy and working as a public transportation union leader - but the emotional intimacy piece I'm not sure about.  It's too soon to tell.  We had a nice physical connection and the hugging at the end felt great, but the kissing was, well, not so great.  It was a little weird, like his technique is off or he was holding back.

He suggested three last minute dates over the last three weeks, all of which I declined and said I was unavailable.  Not loving the last minute invitations, and my brother and I agreed that it likely indicates ambivalence.  Yesterday, when he made his third last minute proposal, and we had a couple rounds of lackluster emails, I said in my direct way that it seemed like he was less than excited to see me again, and was this true?  He said no, definitely not, that he has some reservations about dating in general, but that after seeing me before, he was "charged" for several days.  Hmm, interesting.  So, we have plans now for wine this Thursday and possibly the next one, as well, for swing dancing.  I hope to learn more about his dating reservations and see if we have enough connection to continue getting to know each other.

Curious what your feelings are about both situations, when you hear about them?  Any questions you have about either situation?  Obviously I know SB a lot better at this point and am seeing patterns emerge.  I like him a lot but also have doubts.  C is still, to a large extent, an unknown quantity.  Physically, I find him very appealing, and I know he can match me intellectually but am not sure about other levels.  That brings us to the end of this chapter in the Tale of Two Men. :)

As a last bombshell to throw in here, my housemate told me on Friday that he will definitely be selling the house this summer and would like me to move out in two months.  Ohhhkay.  I admit this was not as shocking as it would have been had we - he, I, and his partner - not had a conversation a few weeks ago about money in which it was clear they felt I had been paying far under the market rate, and that he was looking to make more money and at least break even on the mortgage and expenses, etc. (at the time the options we were discussing is me moving into the other bedroom and paying a bit more rent and getting a new roommate as soon as possible).  Of course, I understand that, it's just strange when we agreed on the rent amount and he seemed good with it - and planned to share the house with me - and then everything changed and it seems he now feels he did me a huge favor and is not happy with the amount.  He feels part of the favor is "letting" me live here by myself, but that was never my choice, so it's hard for me to see that as a favor.

I think a lot of the "shifting sands" feeling I have is because he is in a huge time of change himself, and is also needing to now make decisions with his new partner.  So, he really HAS changed his tune over the time I've been living here.  Hard to believe it has been five months already.  I feel a little sick thinking of moving again, but somehow I'm not freaking out and actually feel it could be "meant to be," as this is not a good house for a small child.  I'm trying to roll with it and just keep making big efforts with my business.  These efforts are starting to take hold!  No new clients yet, but am getting the word out there and generating lots of possibilities.  Please think good thoughts for me, as this business taking off is going to be a huge piece of making this transition work.

2/18/2015

Sad and Grateful

Drove back from Oregon yesterday and heading to work at the college soon. 

As I have shared, my mom is really sick and I needed to get home to see her.  Her doctors and hospice team had recommended that people come soon to assure that she would be coherent enough to communicate and connect with us.  My two aunts (her sisters) were there, too, so there was a lot of group family time spent talking, eating, watching tv.  My mom has a set-up on the living room couch where she stays and dozes off/rests as needed.  I didn't have the courage - or the space with family always around - to broach a meaningful conversation with her until yesterday before I left.  I knew I needed to take the opportunity. 

So, I bought a card and wrote a couple things I really wanted to tell her... basically, that I was sorry I wasn't more open as a pre-teen/teen when she tried to communicate with me (there are times I remember her trying and becoming upset when I refused to talk), and that I really appreciated her support at emotional times or times of crisis when she stayed calm and helped me figure things out or just plain helped get something done.  This includes when I was upset at my Dad and she stayed calm and helped mediate or talked to him behind the scenes to help him manage his anger.  Also, practical support like when I was a teenager and cut the hem of my skirt all wrong the night before a big trip, and she calmed me down and fixed it for me.  I also brought her a couple of magazines and ice cream. 

After she read the card, she thanked me and we hugged and held hands and cried a little bit.  I told her it wasn't fair and I was so sorry this was happening.  She said quietly, "these things happen," or something, which fits her practical Nebraskan character.  I was able to make her a simple breakfast before I left and we shared a long hug good-bye.

I am very sad, and also grateful to have shared that connection with her before I left.