A Different Path

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My pup Jazzmin laying by my tree

I set my Christmas tree up today and it came out lovely, which made me quite happy. I’ve had the little fake tree for at least a couple decades so putting it together, fanning out the branches and hanging the lights on it is something I can almost do in my sleep. I usually put the tree up before Thanksgiving but I just didn’t have time this year. The mere fact that I can put the tree up whenever I want, even before Thanksgiving, is an empowering reminder of a freedom I didn’t have when I was married to a man who didn’t “allow” any holiday decorating until after Thanksgiving.

Without going into the gory details, I chose to divorce my now ex husband several years ago. I hadn’t been happy in our marriage for years and when my father died in 2009, I realized life was too short to remain miserable. The main reason I waited to seek divorce was because I didn’t want to have less time with my daughters, but when my unhappiness began affecting them, I knew I couldn’t keep pretending that everything was okay.

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a mom. Even though my marriage to my daughters’ father ended, they were the best things to come out of it. My girls are my world, have been since they were born and I miss them when I don’t have them, but I’ve never regretted or had second thoughts about divorcing their father. We just weren’t a good fit and I couldn’t be myself married to him. Had I remained in that marriage I never would have discovered my own strength and everything else about me that makes me so unique. I also wouldn’t be as incredibly happy as I am today.

My divorce was finalized in the summer of 2011, over a year after I got a lawyer and started the process. My ex and I were married just a few days shy of 13 years. Moving out on my own for the first time in my life was both exciting and scary. Living in the same house with my now ex husband as we went through the divorce was a rough experience and when I got my own place, I finally felt like I could breathe again!

My ex and I split custody 50/50 and it took me at least six months to adjust to not having my girls all the time but eventually I remembered who I was when I wasn’t playing the mom role. I also remembered who I was before I started playing the role of dutiful wife. I didn’t have to worry about someone telling me what to do anymore or rearranging my stuff or making me feel like I wasn’t good enough. I was in charge of my life, my house and my actions and it felt amazing! It still feels amazing!

Although I’ve had a couple relationships since my divorce where we actually called each other boyfriend and girlfriend, they weren’t good fits. One was too soon after my divorce and one too late as I’ve now learned to love being on my own. I’ve also dealt with men whose less than honorable intentions gave me some trust issues. Regardless, I don’t expect to be single forever, but I haven’t found the right man for me yet and I have to do what’s right for me and my girls. You see, my ex husband and I took very different paths after the divorce.

My ex found someone new almost immediately after our divorce or perhaps before it was even finalized. In truth, I really don’t care. I thought perhaps he’d see what it was like being alone and even spend more time with the girls but getting a new girlfriend so swiftly who already had three kids of her own kept that from happening. He’s marrying that woman tomorrow (my girls are in the wedding but strangely, I was not invited ;)), doing the blended family thing and continuing the predictable path of his life. That works for him, but I have never been one to follow a predictable path. I forgot that when I was married, but I’ll never forget again.

Living as a single mom and woman, I’ve managed to buy my own house, car, furniture, etc. and I took the leap from working an unrewarding office job to working from home as a freelance writer three years ago. Now I’m trying to create a successful jewelry making business and it’s another scary and exciting step on this winding, curving, hilly path I navigate. On my own I’m free to take road trips to New England and find myself in all sorts of new places. I never would have known how brave I am had I stayed married.

Although there are times when I do get a bit lonely without the girls, I always have my pets to keep me company. I have my loyal dog Jazzmin as my sidekick and walking companion and as my ex doesn’t like dogs, I never would have had her if I’d stayed married. I also have three cats and that’s one over my ex’s “two cat limit.” His soon to be wife is allergic to cats and dogs so he never has to worry about pet hair in his home again. Me, I suck up an entire cat and dog’s worth of fur every time I vacuum and I don’t mind at all.

Another easy way for me to banish loneliness is to think about how unhappy I was in my marriage or any of my previous relationships. I would never go back to any of that just to keep from being alone and I’m quite happy on my own. I haven’t given up on finding the right match for me eventually and I’ll always believe in love, but my girls get my full attention when I have them and my winding, adventurous path gets my full attention when I don’t have my girls. Walking such a path alone is easier when I focus on the light and leave the shadows behind.

Thankful Every Day

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While many people talk about giving thanks on this day, I give thanks every single day for the numerous blessings in my life. I’m thankful for my daughters, my family, my friends, my pets and so much more. Every day I wake up is a new opportunity to enjoy life and make the most of it.

Last year during this holiday I was volunteering at The National Day of Mourning in Plymouth, MA and it felt so fulfilling being part of something so much bigger than myself. I helped with the meal preparation for the event and matched through the streets of Plymouth as part of the rally and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I hope to be out there again next Thanksgiving and every other Thanksgiving I can.

Today I had the girls for the day and we had the usual turkey meal at my mom’s. It was just the four of us and while I helped make the sides, my mom cooked and sliced the turkey. I’m so proud of my mom for carving the turkey this year as it and preparing most of the meal was my dad’s thing. We all still miss him immensely but today we showed him that he taught us well. The meal today was a way of honoring his memory while being with family.

Following the meal at my mom’s and just relaxing for a while, I took the girls back to their dad’s house until this Saturday when I get them back. I always miss them when I don’t have them but it won’t be too long before I have them again. Once home, I tended to the needs of my cats and dog and played some Warcraft.

As I write this on my phone I’m snuggling on the couch with Daisy and Jazzmin while watching Working Girl on Netflix. I’ve seen the movie tons of times but it’s one of those movies I never get tired of. Plus, it’s about a tough, single chick who plays by her own rules and works her way cleverly to the top. Seems like the perfect end to another day that I’m eternally thankful for.
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Making the Most of a Warm November Day

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A sunny, 70 degree day in November in Upstate NY must be appreciated for the wonder that it is so I spent yesterday appreciating the unseasonably warm autumn day in many ways. Considering that the forecast is calling for snow starting Sunday, I’m sure I’ll wish I could bottle yesterday and open it in the midst of winter cold.

My original plan for the morning was to mow some of my back yard after the girls got on their busses and the grass dried out a bit. To that end, I hooked my mower battery up to the charger and let it sit charging for a while as I tidied up the deck, put plants away, emptied water out of my deck storage totes and so on. For whatever reason, mower batteries don’t seem to last for more than a year so I just hook mine up to the charger before I mow, give it time and it usually starts. Well yesterday, it didn’t want to start.

Not one to waste the amazingly warm morning, I left the mower hooked to the charger and finished putting my deck and yard furniture away in my sheds. I then decided to string up the colored icicle lights on my front bushes since it’s never a fun job when my hands are frozen. My bushes still have leaves on them but that didn’t hamper my lighting efforts and now the lights are all set and ready to be turned on whenever I so desire. I’m not one to wait until after turkey day to decorate for Christmas so they’ll probably be on at night rather soon.

By the time I was done tidying up my outside areas, there wasn’t enough time left to mow before I had to pick up my youngest daughter from school. She had half days this week and I babysat her Wednesday and yesterday until her father could pick her up. I always love more time with my girls so it’s never a problem taking them. Although there wasn’t time to mow, there was time for a short walk with Jazzmin so she and I set out.

It was shortly before 11 a.m. when we headed out for our walk and it was so nice out that I was wearing shorts and a tank top! It’s a rare treat indeed for it to be warm enough for that in an Upstate NY November. Jazzmin loved the walk as usual and when we got back, I packaged up my latest order of earrings to ship to their new owner. I’m always happy when someone else loves my jewelry as much as I do! It inspires me and motivates me to create more lovelies, which is extremely helpful since I need to build up more inventory after a run of successful sales.

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After picking my youngest daughter up from school, we stopped at the post office to mail the earrings and then headed home to enjoy the afternoon. She spent quite a while swinging in the warm sunshine and was happy to be done with school for the week. It was lovely having her for some bonus Friday time. I finally managed to get the mower running and did the section of the back yard that was especially long but left the rest unmowed and covered with leaves.

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When Jaycie’s father picked her up, it was 3 p.m. and still just too nice to stay inside so I decided to take Jazzmin for a second, longer walk. We went up the big hill and relished in the sunshine and warmth. There were grasshoppers jumping across the road, crickets chirping in the fields, peeper frogs in the ponds and streams and I even saw a small yellow butterfly fluttering by.

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Once we got back home, I gave Jazzmin her post walk treat and headed out into my back yard in bare feet. I walked back to the small crop of milkweed plants growing by the southeast corner of my property and smiled at the abundance of white fluffy seeds bursting free of the plant pods.
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I grabbed a few handfuls of seeds that were trying to work free of the pods and sent them into the air to carry my wishes and gratitude through the breeze.
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If the calendar didn’t say November, I would’ve sworn yesterday was an early spring day and not a late autumn day. It certainly made me feel that November had given all the nice days it could and wanted to go out on a high note. I think it accomplished that perfectly.