2015: The Gloriously Weird Year of Finding Myself, Divorcing, and Turning 40

2015: The Gloriously Weird Year of Finding Myself, Divorcing, and Turning 40

What a weird year this has been.

I mean, I knew it was weird, but then looking back through my photos and calendar… wow. It’s been a doozy.

I’ve been rather quiet here over the course of 2015, my words few and far between. Much has gone on that hasn’t been for public consumption. My (now) ex-husband and I have never made our private matters public, especially in this space, so starting now would have been odd. When we decided very early this year to separate, that things weren’t ok, my words left me. My mind was on overdrive and well, elsewhere.

The year started very restlessly. I was restless and unsettled. I was unhappy. He was unhappy. And in somewhat of short order, all things considered, we remedied it with separation and then divorce. Not that it’s anybody’s business, but none of this life-changing event was a spur of the moment decision. There was talk and therapy and energy sessions and crying and rethinking and in the end, our guts and hearts won out. We knew what we had to do.

Jason and I are better friends now than we have been in years, probably. He’s still my cheerleader and I’m still his. We spend holidays together and do things as a family, because let’s be honest, we always will be one. We share children and memories and grief and joys that only the two of us can ever share. We want the best for each other. We are so much better for Henry this way and our only goals are for him and for each of us to be happy. That’s all anybody wants, right?

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I want to take you on a journey through 2015, though.

Let’s talk while we walk through the year, shall we?

January 2015

January 2015

January was kicked off with a Resolution Run with Sharon that I believe we both resolved to never EVER again run. It’s miraculous we survived. Henry won “Cubmaster’s Choice” at the Pinewood Derby for best looking car. Yes, it’s sushi. No, it’s not edible. Yes, it’s badass.

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February 2015

Oh, February. Jason and I decided over Valentine’s Dinner that we should separate. We’d been back and forth on it, but Valentine’s dinner, while everybody was oohing and aahing over each other at the two-top tables around us, we decided we had to do it. And then we toasted each other. Weird.

Miranda and I held auditions for the Listen To Your Mother Show and I finished my 4th half marathon. Barely. Let’s not discuss the race, but instead let me say how much fun I had with Rachel, Sharon, and Melissa that weekend (and #TeamRMHC)!

The Toomer’s Oaks were replanted in Auburn and we headed over for that big occasion. And then it snowed. And the city of Atlanta shut down.

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March 2015

March saw us figuring out the logistics and details of our separation. We were still living together because of those logistics. That may have been the strangest period of the whole deal. Knowing that you’re apart, but you’re still in the same house. We had distractions, though. Scout things, the boys camping, my niece and I going to NYC to celebrate her birthday. Jasmine and I had the best time! Columbia, Serendipity, Shopping, Broadway!

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April 2015

And then there was April. I don’t think I was even at home during April. Ten days after being in NYC with Jasmine, I was back for the Listen To Your Mother book launch. How much fun was THIS? It was such an amazing 24 hours, I don’t even know where to start! So I won’t bother. But it was amazing to hang out with Neil and Alexandra, Ann, Taya, Melisa… the list goes on. It was a 24 hour trip but so much good was squeezed in!

Then we had our second Listen To Your Mother Show in Atlanta. Which was so beautiful. We had a fantastic cast of 13 women who delivered some of the most heartfelt stories I’ve ever heard. So thrilled to bring it back this next April.

Then there was drinking (much) bourbon with Vikki (and others) at Mom2.0 and visiting with my friend Andrea in Phoenix. Such a busy month!

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May 2015

Basically, in May, I had superpowers that would make me lazy and we celebrated what would have been Charlie’s 12th birthday. May was apparently the opposite of April!

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June 2015

June saw a new family of ducks in our pond out back, a weekend with the girls, and a trip to my sister’s. So clearly “family” was the theme!

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July 2015

July is Peach Month. That’s when the best peaches are available. So we ate them almost right off the tree. I don’t think I’ve eaten as many peaches before as I did this past summer. Henry went to Camp Winnataska again and loved it.

I spent a weekend in NYC again, this time with Neil. I guess you could say this was about when our long time friendship was turning into more than just friendship. (Again, not really anybody’s business, but Jason and I agreed that we could date people while we were separated. So we both did.)

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August 2015

Back to School, with a saxaphone, in August. Plus another trip to NYC and just doing life, one day at a time. We decided to file for divorce.

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September 2015

September was obviously full of fun because the only picture worth posting was of flowers I bought myself at Whole Foods. Which means I paid way too much for them, but whatever, they’re gorgeous and made me feel good. Jason and I, still married technically, celebrated our 17th anniversary with a high five and a PBR because we’re classy like that.

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October 2015

Football game with my mom and Henry. Type A Conference in Atlanta. Henry got a job walking the dog next door after school. Neil came to Atlanta for a long weekend. And I donned a blue wig for Halloween. Oh, October!

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November 2015

November started off with Henry’s 11th birthday party. Another Game Truck party which is God’s gift to moms across the country or wherever Game Trucks are. Seriously. They back in and open the doors and PARTY!

In November, I watched one of my dearest friends say “I do” to the man she loves. I taught my niece how to properly watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. And while at my sister’s house for Thanksgiving, my family celebrated my 40th birthday (a little early).

November 18, our final divorce decree was signed and stamped and official. Again, we celebrated with a high five.

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December 2015

Oh, December. Henry and I found and loved and decorated our own tree. We did it all by ourselves and were so super proud! We made a few new traditions in the process.

I celebrated my FORTIETH birthday on December 9. (I know, I don’t look a day over 27) I was in New York with Neil and we celebrated at dinner with some friends we both know through blogging and Listen To Your Mother. It was such a fun night and weekend.

Christmas came, on schedule. Santa came. Jason joined us and we Christmassed together and it was nice. We had clearly been good this year. I guess Santa liked how well we’ve handled ourselves throughout the year.

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This past year has taught me some things. Mostly that my gut and my heart are always right. I’m grateful to my energy healer and the therapist I briefly saw, for helping me realize the difference between what my heart was telling me and what my head was telling me. Often, your head tells you the easy thing, not the thing that will make you the happiest and take the most courage.

At the end of the day, 2015 was absolutely glorious, and taught me that I’m far more brave and far more resilient than I ever dreamed. I’m not scared of being a single mom. I’m not scared of not being able to live the life I’ve lived for the last 17 years. I’m certainly not scared of the future. I’m excited. Super. Freaking. Excited. Do I know what it holds? Hell no. Do you? If so, I’d like for you to read my palm and tell me some lottery numbers!

I’m ushering in 2016 knowing that anything — ANYthing — can happen. It may be amazing or it may be mundane, but it will be done my way. It will be full of so many things and I plan to do them all with passion and mindfulness and the realization that THIS moment IS life. I only get one and I plan to make it good.

So cheers to a fresh slate, a new decade of life, a blank page in a new notebook, and a new pen.

Let’s do this, 2016.

Sweet & Salty with Uncommon Goods

Sweet & Salty with Uncommon Goods

One of my favorite places to shop online has been Uncommon Goods. For years, I’ve gotten giddy-excited when a catalog showed up in my mailbox and have spent way too much time perusing their various gift guides on their website. I’ve teamed up with Uncommon Goods to share some fun gift ideas for upcoming occasions.

When they sent me the most amazing necklace set – The Sweet & Salty Necklace Set for Friends – I knew exactly who one of the necklaces was going to. (note: I was given the necklace, but opinions and thoughts are my own)

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They’re the most charming pieces by designer Elizabeth Suda, made from “Vietnam War–era plane parts and bombs, metal that was fairly traded and honed into delicate jewelry, clearing Laos farmland of war debris and serving as a sweet reminder of friendship in the process.”

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Yesterday, I met Karen and her family at The Varsity. I’d been pondering which of us would get “Sweet” and which would get “Salty” since we’re both a little bit, well, sweet AND salty! So without looking at them, I placed them on the table (where I had just devoured a cheese Dog, onion rings, a frosted orange, and a peach pie.) (what? it’s the holidays.) and on 3, we each touched the one we felt was supposed to be ours.

Luckily, we chose different ones!

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So now, officially, I’m “Sweet” and Karen is “Salty.” As it should be, I believe!

I can honestly say, as a jeweler’s daughter who has seen a lot of friendship jewelry come and go over the years, this is the most fun one yet!

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Uncommon Goods, on top of offering the most hilarious, perfect, and perfectly ridiculous gifts, is actually a company committed to Good. They believe that sustainability starts with integrity in everything they do, both inside the company and outside. Their work with artists and small manufacturers allows them to know their products are thoughtful and made in responsible manners. In fact, everything about their mission makes me want to work for them!

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Christmas may be over, but you know what? There are occasions coming up, y’all. And Uncommon Goods has something for every. single. one. of them. One stop shop and all that!

I popped over to a few of the gift guides they have set up and found some favorites.

Valentine’s Day is soon. I mean, let’s get real, they’ve had Valentine’s candy out in the grocery store for two weeks now. It’s time to think about what you’ll be getting that special someone.

I do have a special someone I’ll be buying for this year, so looking through the Valentine’s Day list, I found a few things that caught my eye.

The Travel Stub Diary

The Travel Stub Diary for remembering our fun little visits to museums, shows, and other fun places!

I popped over to the “Gifts For Boyfriends and Guys” guide and found some other fun things!

Eye Glasses Holder

Eye Glasses Holder – For the Four Eyes in your life who always loses his (or her) glasses.

Driftwood iPhone Charging Dock

Driftwood iPhone Charging Dock – Who doesn’t need a charging dock that is made of driftwood?

And then there’s my favorite collection ever… the Jewelry!

As a jeweler’s daughter, I’m a little funny about my jewelry. Everything I own, means something to me. That’s why I love Uncommon Goods and their selection so much. Everything has a story.

Here are some favorites (in case anyone is wondering what to get me).

Sterling Silver Wings Bangle  "She took the leap and built her wings on the way down"

Sterling Silver Wings Bangle
“She took the leap and built her wings on the way down”

I can’t wait to regroup and get my mind focused on the next occasions and shop myself silly!

What would YOU buy from Uncommon Goods for someone on your list (or yourself)?

The Photographs

The Photographs

We had been talking about getting a fancy digital camera.

In 2003, there weren’t a million choices like there are now, and the choices that were out there were either expensive or Capital E Expensive. We’d done our homework and knew which one we were going to get.

But we had time.

After all, the baby wasn’t due until June.

Until it was time.

As I moaned and groaned in the L&D room, my husband gave his work-wife instructions on EXACTLY which camera it was. The lens size. The case he wanted. The extra memory card he would need so he could fill it with memories of this day. And to hurry. Instructions to take his credit card and hurry.

She came back with our camera.

Lucky for the camera, labor took for-freaking-ever so the battery had time to charge and Jason had time to read the instructions.

A couple hundred pictures were taken with that camera over the next few days and weeks. We had enough memory in the card and computer to hold many more days and weeks and months and years of memories.

Little did we know…

Yesterday morning I woke up to a notification that a photo had been shared on my wall. I figured it was a meme of some sort that I was tagged in so I could share with my favorite people so I wouldn’t have bad luck.

But no. It was a photo. A real photo. Of Charlie.

Well, I take that back. You couldn’t really see him because he was in a front carrier and it was from a distance. But it was a photo of him. And us. The three of us. A family. Because something that’s even more rare than photos of him are photos of all three of us together (there are now two).

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My friend’s mother in law had snapped the photo at Relay for Life and it’s spent the last 11 years in an album in her home. Now it’s headed my way and will be added to the handful of tangible memories we have.

And now I have to wonder if there are more pictures out there… maybe there are. Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to see them one day.

Until then, when the photos in my head start getting blurry, I have one extra one to pull out to remind me that he was once here with us.

Type A Takeaways

Type A Takeaways

I’m not known for my post-conference recaps. I don’t know that I’m known for very much, actually. But this year, after Type A Conference that was here in Atlanta a few weekends ago, I feel compelled to tell you exactly what I took away from it.

A list will do, right?

1. I love my friends that I have met online – through blogging, social media, and in person at conferences. This conference was the third one that Crystal and I have done together. It was great meeting her at arrivals in the airport, catching up with hugs and glasses of wine/liquor/beer, and having a slumber party late at night! Seeing other people I now call friends makes my heart full. Knowing that at least for some of them, seeing me makes them feel the same way, helps me realize that what I do online isn’t all stupid and worthless!

2. I love my new friends. Oh, where do I start with the new people I met this year. Finally getting to give a few people a hug in real life was great. Running into a few girls, striking up a conversation, and ending up wanting to become neighbors so we can hang out all the time, was even more amazing! You know who you are (yes, I’m looking at you, you, you, you, and you). I miss all of you and hope we meet again soon!

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3. It’s time to Just Write. I want to write. I wish I thought I could quit my job and write full time. But writing takes practice. I went to a session with Vikki and Heather that I thought was amazing. After a year or so of hosting #SOCSunday, and knowing that Just Write was also out there, I finally met Heather. Listening to her and Vikki talk, a little like watching a Delicious Dish sketch on SNL, about how to pull stream of consciousness writing out of your heart and soul and put it onto paper (er, the computer) was earth-moving. That session was worth the price of the ticket and a whole lot more to me. So thank y’all!

4. Sharing my city is fun! On Saturday night, a group of girls headed out to South City Kitchen. This is one of our favorite places in the city, so sharing it with people who “ain’t from ’round these parts” was a lot of fun. Fried chicken and grits, peachy bourbon drinks, and other Southern goodness abounded that night. The next morning was even more fun with a small group at Silver Skillet, a diner made famous in movies and shows like Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. So thanks for reminding me, friends, that my city is fun and hip and worthy of showing off!

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5. Gary Buchanan should never work anywhere but Disney. He is the complete embodiment of Disney in a body that looks like a combination of Dana Carvey and Steve Carell. He reminded us all in his unbelievable keynote, that there are no rules. Creativity should be a fun process. Think like a kid. Ask questions. Collect them and save them or the answers for later. HAVE FUN.

6. Erika Napoletano has amazing boobs. And if I wanted some just like them, I could go to her doctor because she gave us his name. He does excellent work, by the way. So besides that, she basically told us to turn up the volume. Erika is no nonsense, but has a soft side, realizing her limits and realizing that saying no or changing plans mid-flight is ok. I’m not sure exactly what I took from her keynote, but it’s sitting with me. Which means there’s something there… I just have to figure out what it is. Thank you for that, Erika!

7. I know my limits. I had been a big talker on the Facebook group about getting together and running every morning with a group. I made it on Friday. By Friday afternoon, however, I realized I had apparently been without my arthritis medicine for a few days. I hit the pavement on Saturday only to realize after about 14 steps, I couldn’t do it. I know my limits. I’ve said it before while training for races (that still sounds strange to say), I listen to my body. If it hurts, I don’t do it. It’s not worth injuring myself or making my arthritis worse than it already is. Interestingly enough, Dorothy Hamill was on site preaching exactly the same thing. About osteoarthritis. Which I have. So of course, I stood in line for a picture and a chance to chat her up for a few minutes. For those with OA (and I’m on the young end of the spectrum they said – yay me!) check out the Get Moving, America page that was just launched. You’ll find lots of information about OA and ways to help ease symptoms.

It was a good weekend.

And I’m ready to do it all again.

I Believe…

I Believe…

Last Sunday morning, I woke up with an itch. An itch that’s been building for over a year now.

When my friend Nic put on Facebook that she was in town, I knew it was the day. I knew SHE would go with me.

Back in the fall, I got Robin Plemmons, one of my favorite people and most fabulous artists, to write a simple word on an index card. I knew that when I finally did it, I wanted HER touch to it.

One practice on my arm…

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art by robin plemmons, in sharpie

And one pass on the index card, and I had my art.

I knew this was the word. For a while, this word had popped up in all kinds of places exactly when I needed to see it. It continuously reminds me of so much.

It reminds me that I believe in ME.

I believe with all my heart that good comes from bad.

I believe that love always wins.

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art by me, in henna

I believe in God, and believe that others don’t have to believe in my God. I will still love them because remember, I believe that love always wins.

I believe that sometimes life is hard, but trudging through the mud and muck will make you a stronger person in the end.

I believe in Auburn, and I love it.

I believe in community and giving back with time and money, even if both are limited.

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from the book ‘believe’

I believe I am blessed. I’m blessed with a beautiful family, a personal guardian angel, and amazing friends.

I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. I also believe that some of the best song lyrics are part of cheesy songs.

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my friend’s son, who believed he could run for a medal at disney

I believe that strangers can have profound impact on you when you least expect it.

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random stranger with believe sign on main street at disney

I believe that the tides will always rise and fall, the skies and seas will have to be angry before they can be calm, and mother nature knows what she’s doing.

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sand writing by me, 2013

I believe that we are all led to places and situations that make us stronger, even if it feels like it may kill us.

I believe our stories matter.

I believe we all have the right to our own opinions, that yours isn’t any better than mine and I won’t love you any less for yours.

my mother's day gift

my mother’s day gift

Last Sunday, my sweet friend rode to Psycho Tattoo with me and held my hand (and took pictures) as I got my favorite word permanently placed on my wrist. It’s there for all to see, but mostly, it’s where I can hold it close to my heart and be reminded when I need to be.

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chet at psycho tattoo in marietta, ga

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art by robin plemmons, permanent ink by chet

This is my permanent, daily reminder that if we believe in something, anything, we can learn to believe in ourselves and others.
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