Summers Glow

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These are the days we dream about … when the sun light paints us gold.

In summer my soul is full of sunshine.

Summertime. It was a song. It was a season. I wondered if that season would ever live inside of me. – Benjamin Alire Saenz

Summer flew by too fast. It always does.

I worked a new job. I ran in the sunlight. I swam and soaked in the sunlight.

I grew a garden with my guy and we have two fifty pound pumpkins and so many yummy veggies, squash, and melons. We grilled and ate radishes. Lots and lots of radishes.

There were fireworks and agate hunting. Sea glass hunting and body surfing.Four wheeling and barn parties.  Drive in movies and campfires.

August was a particularly full month … I ran Ragnar with my brother. That was an experience I will never forget. It honestly just makes me super happy to even think about!

I felt so strong this year – capable and steady. I managed my pace and finished strong. My brother laid it all out and proved to be an amazing team asset … plus we have never had this kind of one on one time. It was perfect.

But as summer came to a close I also jumped into a new venture. I took a new step in my career. It is exciting and a bit scary to leave a position I loved so much. But…I can already see that this step was the right one. I will have room in my life to breath. I have time I did not have before, a team, amazing leadership and development opportunities.

Summer ended … and I took a giant step forward.

Now fall is working it

Fall is working it’s magic on me with leaves exploding with color, cozy sweaters and pumpkins for sale and pumpkin spiced everything. I am happy I can still run in the sunshine and sit by the fire.

Summers glow is probably my second favorite season. And now that I have room to breath … I have time to enjoy it.

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Two Little Men and a Lady

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Son’s are the anchors to their mothers life. – Socrates

Single moms: You are a doctor, a teacher, a nurse, a maid, a cook, a referee, a heroine, a provider, a defender, a protector, a true Superwoman. Wear your cape proudly.

There is something to be said of little boys and their single momma. My boys adore me. They love me fiercely.

This past summer, I have seen a shift in the way they are with me.

They do not allow me to be badmouthed in their presence.

They defend me physically … they literally will jump in and try to get me to safety when mice run by and bats fly over head (see summer adventuring with Jess for info on that at another time), rather than duck for cover as they did when they were small.

If someone has hurt me, they try to jump in to my defense and explain to me how wrong it was.

They tell me to stand up to their dad.

They offer me money when they know money is tight and while I have not had to get their help, their immediate offer and comments such as “mom, you need it more to take care of us…” breaks my heart.

Somehow, someway, they are trying to be the ones taking care of me.

They try to build me up, and shower me with love and concern.

But when did this need to take care of me set in? What is this and how did it come about?

I honestly do not know, and I do not want them to feel some sort of pressure to be the ones looking out for me.

And yet … I am beyond touched how much they love me and want to do right by me.

I am raising the most extraordinary little gentlemen. And I am beyond blessed ….

But I still strive to be the one taking care of them.

 

FREEDOM

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She had not known the weight until she felt the freedom. – The Scarlet Letter

When you are married, it is hard to see your life outside of that relationship definition. You are a unit … not simply you.

When you begin to pick up the pieces of your life and rebuild after a divorce,  there are endless layers of sludge to work through. The layers can vary person to person … but they are many and they are deep.

You have to work through the never ending trials of co-parenting, financial independence, self doubt, self worth, lack of adult conversation, lack of support, lack of understanding … re-entry into dating, re-navigation of friendships … re-learning to just be on your own.

And the emotional layers? Years after, they will present themselves and astound you at their magnitude. The season that follows divorce is one of immense healing, but maybe a divorce is like a death in that it is not something we ever heal from. It is something we simply heal bit by bit .. learn from it, grow from it. But live with, yes. We live with it.

In time, there is a freedom that comes to us. I have come to love the freedom I have with my boys. I can do what I want, when I want.

Dinner tonight? What to watch? Heading to the gym? Pool with the kids? ALL. ME.

No other opinions. No other moods. No itinerary but my own … and it can change in a blink.

I mean, I have full say in how my boys are raised. I have full say in what they are exposed to.

I have no one to answer to. Just me. No tip toeing. No walking on egg shells.

You get to rediscover who you are, just you, completely unfiltered you.

Your goals? No longer on the back burner. Your plans? Commence action.

My bed? Every side of it is mine.  And if I decided to eat chips and salsa in my bed while binge watching Murder She Wrote,  no one could judge me.  I am not saying this has ever happened. But if it had … the only one to judge it is me.

It is your life. 100% yours, no excuses required.

In the world of Jessica, what does this look like? A local private school for my boys, a job that is right for me, dreams of a cottage style house just big enough for my little trio. My world revolves around work outs, reading, writing, arting … and my boys. Most significant of all of course …my boys.

If you are lucky enough to enter this zone of solace and peace … and then you meet someone, it can really throw you for a loop.

I loved someone completely, and that person? That person broke me.

So when love finds you again, and you find yourself navigating the future …. your freedom is now an obstacle in a way. Sometimes people are not willing to budge on their vision, their plan and dreams.

How do you merge dreams? How do you navigate sharing life and not total freedom?

Suddenly you may have to look at what relocation might look like, or if a job change may need to be on the horizon. Or maybe you want your church and he wants his … and there is no compromise.

Maybe that is ok.

I am perfectly comfortable and ok doing things on my own and do not feel like I need anyone to do it with me. But what if you love someone and want to share life with them?

Maybe after divorce and meeting someone new, you learn to live as a unit with single individual needs still being a focus…

Maybe you have a place in the city and a place in the country and go back and forth. Maybe you go to church separate and meet for dinner and reflections on service after. Maybe you spend a week at his place and once in a while he spends a week at yours ..

I guess the thing divorce has taught me is that I compromised myself time and again. And for the right person, for love, would I ever do that again?

No. And I don’t think the right person would want me to.

Maybe my vision for the future will shift. Maybe my dreams of retiring to the north shore will shift to a cabin in the woods or a small ranch with a horse.

But … my kids will remain in the best school for them. I will continue to work out and follow my diet and hold on to my friends. I will continue to further pursue a career that will allow me both joy and greater independence. I will not ever give up who I am and lose my identity for anyone ever again.

Fighting for freedom from an ex spouse is one of the most horrid experiences a person can go through. It takes years. It costs you dearly.

I still believe in love. I believe in marriage.

But I am not ready to let the me I fought for slip away … so hold on to the life I have built I will.

How does that translate into remarriage or furthering a relationship with the kind of person you know to be a God send? Someone you know would be an amazing partner?

You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free. – Thich Nhat Hanh

And we must be loved the same.

I will share when I figure it out. What I do know is that positive change is welcome … self sacrifice is the thing I am done with.

Existing on my own terms … that is what my future holds. Beyond that? Whatever brings me joy!

FREEDOM

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When you are married, it is hard to see your life outside of that relationship definition. You are a unit … not simply you.

When you begin to pick up the pieces of your life and rebuild after a divorce,  there are endless layers of sludge to work through. The layers can vary person to person … but they are many and they are deep.

You have to work through the never ending trials of co-parenting, financial independence, self doubt, self worth, lack of adult conversation, lack of support, lack of understanding … re-entry into dating, re-navigation of friendships … re-learning to just be on your own.

And the emotional layers? Years after, they will present themselves and astound you at their magnitude. The season that follows divorce is one of immense healing, but maybe a divorce is like a death in that it is not something we ever heal from. It is something we simply heal bit by bit .. learn from it, grow from it. But live with, yes. We live with it.

In time, there is a freedom that comes to us. I have come to love the freedom I have with my boys. I can do what I want, when I want.

Dinner tonight? What to watch? Heading to the gym? Pool with the kids? ALL. ME.

No other opinions. No other moods. No itinerary but my own … and it can change in a blink.

I mean, I have full say in how my boys are raised. I have full say in what they are exposed to.

I have no one to answer to. Just me. No tip toeing. No walking on egg shells.

You get to rediscover who you are, just you, completely unfiltered you.

Your goals? No longer on the back burner. Your plans? Commence action.

My bed? Every side of it is mine.  And if I decided to eat chips and salsa in my bed while binge watching Murder She Wrote,  no one could judge me.  I am not saying this has ever happened. But if it had … the only one to judge it is me.

It is your life. 100% yours, no excuses required.

In the world of Jessica, what does this look like? A local private school for my boys, a job that is right for me, dreams of a cottage style house just big enough for my little trio. My world revolves around work outs, reading, writing, arting … and my boys. Most significant of all of course …my boys.

If you are lucky enough to enter this zone of solace and peace … and then you meet someone, it can really throw you for a loop.

I loved someone completely, and that person? That person broke me.

So when love finds you again, and you find yourself navigating the future …. your freedom is now an obstacle in a way. Sometimes people are not willing to budge on their vision, their plan and dreams.

How do you merge dreams? How do you navigate sharing life and not total freedom?

Suddenly you may have to look at what relocation might look like, or if a job change may need to be on the horizon. Or maybe you want your church and he wants his … and there is no compromise.

Maybe that is ok.

I am perfectly comfortable and ok doing things on my own and do not feel like I need anyone to do it with me. But what if you love someone and want to share life with them?

Maybe after divorce and meeting someone new, you learn to live as a unit with single individual needs still being a focus…

Maybe you have a place in the city and a place in the country and go back and forth. Maybe you go to church separate and meet for dinner and reflections on service after. Maybe you spend a week at his place and once in a while he spends a week at yours ..

I guess the thing divorce has taught me is that I compromised myself time and again. And for the right person, for love, would I ever do that again?

No. And I don’t think the right person would want me to.

Maybe my vision for the future will shift. Maybe my dreams of retiring to the north shore will shift to a cabin in the woods or a small ranch with a horse.

But … my kids will remain in the best school for them. I will continue to work out and follow my diet and hold on to my friends. I will continue to further pursue a career that will allow me both joy and greater independence. I will not ever give up who I am and lose my identity for anyone ever again.

Fighting for freedom from an ex spouse is one of the most horrid experiences a person can go through. It takes years. It costs you dearly.

I still believe in love. I believe in marriage.

But I am not ready to let the me I fought for slip away … so hold on to the life I have built I will.

How does that translate into remarriage or furthering a relationship with the kind of person you know to be a God send? Someone you know would be an amazing partner?

I will share when I figure it out. What I do know is that positive change is welcome … self sacrifice is the thing I am done with.

Fight or Flight

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While married to Tom, towards the end of our marriage, my doctor explained to me that living in chronic stress increased cortisol levels in the body that can rewire the brain. It was at that appointment I realized managing my anxiety and my stress would be a life long battle because I had stayed in that environment for so long.

Now, when I begin to be overwhelmed and over stressed by a situation, my throat begins to close off and my chest feels tight. The slightest thing throws me off of my center with enough force to recognize it is what is happening but it is still something I don’t seem able to control…. and my fight or flight mode sets in. I cut losses. Cut the situation. If i just eliminate the issue it can’t hurt me …. right?  Sometimes i get angry and try to communicate that but more often than not, my response is to shut it down. Be done. Move on.

Some people argue that fight or flight does not exist. It is simply anxiety manifested. I disagree. I am so aware of my anxiety and work to keep it in check . When fight or flight has kicked in … I feel trauma. I feel broken. I feel damaged and unwilling to let something hurt me more. Really it is PTSD.

My flight is just me retreating to a safe place. And self preservation is a piece of  self-care really … right?

Consider that our brains have this stress response to a pattern of behavior. Any new situations that follow  that pattern are like a memory card template match. Our brain matches the pattern and bam. Stress response. Panic. Anger. Fight or Flight.

So …. I see that I do it. But I see it as me trying to remain ok and unshaken. It has happened with my mom, my boyfriend, my ex … my kids.

How do I gain control? How do I break the pattern? Or is the expectation that others should be able to be patient because I explain this and try to make sense of it to them? Can I break the pattern?

I am one that needs reassurance when I am upset that my anger or disappointment is warranted. I need validation that it is ok I am hurt. And I need patience while I work through that … because without that patience … I simply shut down. And fade out.

 

 

Dysmorphia: Phatom Fat Girl

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I am a person who can proudly state that from my highest fat ever, I have lost 175 pounds in my adult lifetime.

I shared this with some coworkers recently and a couple of them were like “what? no way. I cannot imagine you heavy and you are so active!”.

My immediate thought in my head was “but I am still big how do you not see it?”.

And one of my coworkers added, “you are so small. I just can’t picture it.”

Small. And yet I look at pics and think man, my arms are so fat or I look so wide … I don’t see the small girl.

I lost 140 after ballooning up with no clear understanding of why as not much of anything in my life had changed. I was eventually diagnosed with a thyroid disorder and PCOS. I worked with doctors, had surgery, walked 5 miles a day, ate mostly protein, and took my meds. Weight finally came off.

Then I had my boys and between my two almost back to back pregnancies, I gained 30. It seemed impossible to lose. I worked and lost 20 or so pounds but could not get the rest to budge. I was running and eating pretty well, but it seemed a stall I could not surpass.

Then I began to box. I started a primarily plant based diet. I took supplements. Drank keto coffee for breakfast. Cut sugar back. Cut alcohol. And I lost 65 pounds … putting me at a weight I did not know was even possible for me.

I can now wear a medium or a small. I can wear size 8 jeans which were forever my all time goal. My mom was tiny and an 8 growing up and I always hated being bigger than her … so I guess the number just stuck with me.

So how is it I still see a fat girl not that I fit the same size my skinny mini mom did? How do I look at a pic and think I look huge? How can I see my reflection at the gym and marvel at the muscles I have developed, but still feel like a big blob?

I recall when I initially lost weight, I always misjudged how much room I needed to squeeze through a space in public or fit into a chair comfortably. Now I sit on the chairs with kids in my toddler room and my butt fits the chair … I climb through tunnels and hang from the monkey bars … playing all over the playground with the kids while teachers half my age are too winded to keep up.

I have made such huge progress, and yet I do not see it. From a 3x to a S? From a size 28 to an 8? How do I not see it????

I workout like crazy – no less than 5 times a week. I walk an average of 8 miles a day and am currently following an even stricter diet. In two weeks, I have dropped another 6 pounds.

Before anyone gets concerned about my new diet – it is not with the intent of solely losing weight, I am following a diet that is supposed to be very thyroid and adrenal healing, so end goal for me is simply to feel better and less dragged down as I have felt lately. But back to my story.

I tried on a size 28 pants just to try to wrap my head around my progress … and maybe I will do it again and get a pic worthy of being shared here, but even though I see it,  see the progress … and often am aware that I am small in many ways, I still see a fat girl.

I still find myself tempted to throw up when I feel I ate too much. Maybe because I am disappointed in myself for having a piece of cake, or maybe I am scared I will sky rocket with weight gain again.  I struggled with bulimia briefly and thought it something left far behind me… so the temptation of the need to do that … its frightening.  I am mindful of tracking calories, noting days I did not eat enough or ate too much and how I felt. I sometimes think it could be a slippery slope to an eating disorder, so I am always checking myself to make sure I am on a healthy track.

I push myself to work out extra long or extra hard. I sometimes make myself dizzy from pushing too hard. I am trying intermittent fasting and sometimes think I am pushing the hours on that too considering how active I am … but it works, so I keep doing it. Truth be told, I am angry and annoyed days I do not fit a workout in, so it feels like a bit of an obsession, even if a healthy one.  I am having to learn to tell myself not to work out once in a while and instead take a nap or sit and read my book.

“Body-image experts say it’s not uncommon for people, especially women, who have lost a lot of weight to be disappointed to some extent to discover that they still aren’t “perfect.” The excess fat is gone when they reach their goal weight, but they may have sagging skin, cellulite or a body shape that they still deem undesirable.

This may happen because the brain hasn’t “caught up” with the new, leaner body, particularly for people who were obese for many years and then experienced rapid weight loss.” – NBC News

So we have lost the weight but still see all the trouble spots and it lives in this fat girl mentality. At least this is what it seems to be for me.

With my progress, I wear shorter shorts and used to only wear capris in the summer. I view this as an awareness of a win! But, also  I find myself needing to try on smaller sizes when trying on clothes after misjudging what will fit, clear unawareness of my win.

I would like to think that at some point, my head will wrap catch up with where I am at. Not in fat loss mode anymore, just staying fit and trying to learn to accept the imperfections as they are.  Loose skin on my hips and arms are my hated zones. Maybe someday I will have plastic surgery. Or maybe I can simply learn to accept my flaws and see that I am pretty perfect the way I am.

I had one realization as I have begin to dig deeper into reflection and questioning about this … I think when my marriage fell apart and my whole world turned upside down, working towards this goal of weight loss was a saving grace. I put so much effort and energy into it. In a world of chaos, this was something I could control and focus on.

The first step in growth is to recognize the struggle that needs to shift. I see it. I voiced it here. Let’s see what comes next.

Miss Me

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When I was out for a run Wednesday, Miss Me More by Kelsea Ballerini played on my Amazon playlist. I had not heard it before, but it clicked with much that was on my mind.  It clicked with a conversation with one of my bf’s the next day too … and I feel like her message fits a bit with my own that has been brewing in my heart.

This past week this particular bf and I have had many chats about love and what real love feels like. When all you have had is dysfunction or not meant to be’s in your love tank, the real thing is a bit of a shock …. a wonderment …. and a whole lot like coming home.

I would so much rather be alone then lose who I am ever again…. and I have been perfectly content alone.

We talked about the effort put into making things work. With the wrong people … it FEELS like heavy work. It can feel burdensome. It can go unappreciated or even exploited. It is draining.

Sometimes we change who we are to make things seem … better? To build the other person up or to make them more attracted to us or to somehow fit better with the wrong person.

But with the right person that all goes away.

Think about it … maybe your hair is long because that is what your guy prefers.

Maybe you stopped wearing a favorite lip color because he didn’t like it or switched out your perfume because he preferred another.

Maybe you started to wear heals because he preferred the look of them …. or maybe you stopped wearing them to make him feel taller.

Maybe you stopped wearing a favorite color … because he hated it.

Dreams change … my dream morphed into what our dreams were. And that is ok … but not at the loss of who I am and what my own dreams were too.

I HATE watching people change little things or give up big things to please their significant other.

Of course I get that compromises need to be had. That is inevitable. And adjustments at times have to happen. I mean maybe he hates your perfume because it makes him sneeze or gives him a headache. I totally get that choice and it would be ridiculous not to do so for someone you love.

But in the wrong relationship, you will be the only one compromising the majority of the time. You may be reminded frequently when they do make an adjustment of the big person they are being by doing so … even though you compromise pieces of yourself for them all the time.

What my friend and I have both realized is that with the right person who truly loves you  is that not only are they not takers in the sense of lopsided compromising and giving… but they are also 100% in acceptance of you. The you that shows up ragged and tired … the you that shows up in your favorite bright lipstick. They smile at any changes to your hair and love every inch of you in a way no one has before.

You don’t have to change pieces of who you are.

And you feel no inclination whatsoever that you should.

There is no pressure to make a grand commitment or change. No urgency of things having to be a certain way. No forced opinions of where you should work and how to align your lives together but rather this crazy idea that there is time, and things can fall into place when and as they do. In the meantime just being together is enough and in the same way … it is everything.

My guy and I have both been divorced for a while now and we both have a full sense of who we are, where we aspire to go, and we are both totally ok with letting the other person do their own thing. Mike gets my need to work out and even offers to take over things with the kids so I can go for a run without my asking or even hinting. We work well as a team with the kids and household chores … sometimes giggling at how the other does something but accepting it – not trying to change our methods. He never makes me feel bad for getting a coffee when I literally just had one. He is always willing to stop and do something or grab something when I ask … never acting like it is an inconvenience.

When you are single … these are the things you become used to. There is never judgment and you do what you want when you want …. everything is on your own schedule. To then share your day with someone else and have to take into consideration what they need and want is not at all a burden … but it is different.

I might tell him I think something is really pretty and he will say you think so and smile and say  interesting. He might tell me about great plans to mount deer heads …. and I smile and say in your man cave right?  Or when he told me he wants a bear bust and I was like really? Maybe a bear skin would be better . We could put that on a wall… and for anyone who knows me this is so not my thing.

We never say no to one another or force the idea that our desires are the prevalent one. We just smile at the uniqueness of one another and roll with it. And that is how it should be in love. You should not lose yourself in it. You should not fade into a couple that has no idea what to do without their other half … we need to still be our own person.

Being single as an adult has shown me who I truly am. Broken down … I am a super active busy mom. I am a girly girl … always doing face masks and hair treatments or painting my nails. Some might think I am vain and I am ok with that. I love cute clothes, accessories, and shoes. Do not even get me started on sandals! I love to read and create. Summer is by far my favorite season. I am definitely urban and a bit spoiled with the conveniences of city life without the yuck of downtown. Yet somehow I feel like a little bit of a gypsy with wanderlust and a need to be barefoot and out in nature.  I am passionate about so many things. My most current is the blight of libraries losing federal funding. For real. Stay tuned for more outbursts on that! I am adventerous and free spirited and do best not looking at the clock.I randomly see things I want to explore or think of something to check out and I just go do it … because I am the solo adult and can do that.  I am also a bit of a coffee snob … which has proven comically challenging in the country. But I have a wonderful boyfriend who got me a coffee maker and always makes sure I have good coffee and milk when I visit. I love me. I love being me.

My Mike … he is a through and through country guy who grew up in the city and hates it. He loves tinkering with things and making them work. He is always jumping from project to project in his garage or out int he woods cutting trees that need to come down or out in the garden caring for the plants. In a hour he may have done all these things and a few more … like smoking out moles. He is probably happiest hunting or sitting by the campfire. He is far less maintenance than I … but just as passionate about our government, history, and faith. He too is used to just picking up and going to do the random things he thinks of … checking out auctions or taking on a new random project. He is the kind of person that if you mention wanting to do or try something … he will make sure you do. Even if he thinks it is silly. He loves going out of his way to do special things for his kids and his family.

We are alike in so many ways and different in so many others … but everything feels like home with him. Unrushed, unpressured … and wonderful.

For years with my ex husband I totally lost sight of who I was. And now … well I don’t ever want to lose me again. See I actually do like me. And I realized how wonderful it is to have things my own way.

But with my guy …

He loves all of me and I love all of him … I am so grateful he was willing to just talk with me and not push me into a date right away. He was willing to meet me where I was, let me feel comfortable … and just be here. Loving and accepting me as I am.

The song lyrics …. totally worth a read.

MISS ME MORE

I retired my red lipstick ’cause you said you didn’t like it
I didn’t wear my high heel shoes
‘Cause I couldn’t be taller than you
I didn’t wanna lose my friends, but now it’s hard to even find them
It’s what you wanted, ain’t it?
It’s what you wanted
I thought I’d miss you (when it ended)
I thought it hurt me (but it didn’t)
I thought I’d miss you
I thought I’d miss you
But I miss me more
I miss my own beat, to my own snare drum
I miss me more
Miss my own sheets in the bed I made up
I forgot I had dreams, I forgot I had wings
Forgot who I was before I ever kissed you
Yeah, I thought I’d miss you
But I miss me more (I miss me more)
I put on my old records that I hid in the back of the closet
And I turn them up to ten
And then I played them all again
I found my independence
Can’t believe I ever lost it
What you wanted, ain’t it?
It’s what you wanted
I thought I’d miss you (when it ended)
I thought it hurt me (but it didn’t)
I thought I’d miss you
Yeah, I thought I’d miss you
But I miss me more
I miss my own beat, to my own snare drum
(I miss me more)
Miss my own sheets in the bed I made up
I forgot I had dreams, I forgot I had wings
Forgot who I was before I ever kissed you
Yeah, I thought I’d miss you