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Bounce

img_0511I have a friend I’ve know for quite some time who is an executive coach.  This man makes a living coaching top executives at companies to improve outcomes (and I imagine this means profits) for the organization. He makes more money in one gig than I make in several years.  He’s probably made and lost more money over the years than I will see in several lifetimes. As I type this, he is involved in putting together a deal that will allow him to quadruple his income and expand his business.  He’s doing this at a time in his life when he should be (or most people are considering being) retired.  He doesn’t punch a time clock. His office is in his home or in a coffee shop or cigar shop nearby. He lives in a tower and drives an Audi. He controls his time, his life and mostly his levels of stress.  He does what he wants, when he wants with no demands imposed on his life other than those he chooses for himself. It’s a pretty good gig for supposedly being retired. But it hasn’t always been this way for him.  He’s had some pretty rough moments along the way. Read the rest of this entry

Coffee Finance

Back in 2009, I was dating this guy who influenced me tremendously. Things didn’t work out with us. He had issues with aging and was interested in women 20 (or more) years younger than he was. I was only 12 years younger, so while we had fun for a while, his time with me was sure to end. Other than this, he was a decent guy, employed, funny, intelligent, a writer with a day job.

He lived in a home that he and his brother built. It was one of those Adair homes. He’d gone through a bankruptcy after his divorce and had downsized from a rather large multi-storied craftsman home to this smaller ranch-style Adair home. He tended to be a bit anal about keeping things clean and orderly. Everything was perfectly tidy and ordered. His home definitely did not look like the typical bachelor pad. I remember thinking that I loved the place.

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Stress, Anxiety and Excitement

I am moving.   It’s a sudden thing, and I am not prone to this kind of suddenness.  I’ve been in the same residence for ten years, after all.

This move is the right thing at the right time for me right now.

There’s just so much in my life that currently falls into the area of “the unknown.”  I don’t need the instability of wondering if, when, and where I am moving.  And I need to move.

I need to get out of this place because psychologically it is draining me.  There are just too many painful memories here.  Memories of a love gone wrong, of insecurities preyed upon, of lives, hearts and psyches abused and damaged.  There is also the glaring truth that no matter how long I live here and work to improve this place those memories and reminders contained its walls and corners will never disappear.  I will forever see the improved thing and think of what came before.

It is time to move on.

Just like with the marriage, I thought for a long time I could fix it.  I finally realized I cannot; I moved on and haven’t looked back.

Once that decision is made, it is amazing how things can fall rapidly into place.

Six months ago I was playing with the idea, the possibility, the wisdom of leaving.  Five months ago and each month since, I’ve made decisions that put into play a series of events that moved me closer to being able to leave.  The last, item, to find new digs.

Not so easy to do, when your credit is shot.

Amazing how miracles still occur.

This time last week, I had no idea I was moving.  Had you asked me, I would have said, “Yes, I’ll probably be moving within the next six months.”  I had no idea I would be residing in my new location in two weeks. I’m a big believer these days that when you know something is right, you know it.  I believe that about jobs, relationships and homes.  This home appeared and all the necessary details fell into place.  I’m ecstatic.  While it is going to be sad to leave (sort of), it is far more exciting to go.  But going brings its own stresses and having less than fourteen days to pack up and move a family of six is filled with more than the usually day-to-day moving stress.  It doesn’t help that this is happening right at back-to-school season either.  It also doesn’t help that it occurred during the process of mediation with the second ex…the one I hold responsible for the damages to my current abode.  Oh well.

So, I’ve been up writing to do lists, making plans, and…once I got the floor plan of the new place emailed to me…placing furniture.

There is the stress of going through the accumulation of a decade of misery and getting rid of it all.  Sometimes I do wish I could just torch the place.  It would be so much easier.  Purging is good, and necessary, and we are doing it.  I thought it would be tough for my kids, but they’ve gotten on board and are doing a great job.  Of course, the carrot of New Stuff in a New Place is helping motivate them.  There is the stress of packing and organizing packed boxes so that moving day isn’t complete chaos and the unpacking a disaster. There is the anxiety of trying to figure out how a new location will impact our lives and our routines.  There is the excitement of looking forward to living in surroundings that are palatial compared to what we currently reside in.  There is the anticipation of, for the first time in a decade, being able to put dishwasher detergent on our shopping list.  Yes, folks, I have gone the last ten years without a mechanical (as opposed to human) dishwasher. This is exciting.

I’m struck with how this idea of place impacts our lives so much.  For me, location is everything.  I know there are people who can be comfortable in any setting.  These are the people who can walk right into a new place and start meeting people right away.  I’m not one of those people.  When I enter a new environment, I have to give myself time to become acquainted with the environment, before I can comfortably engage with others around me. I have to take time to take in the details of the place I’m in.  I don’t need a lot of time, but I prefer to have a few minutes to get my bearings.

Changing residences, even if the change is only a short distance like mine, can radically impact a persons’ lifestyle.  This move, for my family, will alter things for us in a big way.  For one, it is going to increase my commute time, for the next couple of years, at least.  That, however, is the only trick part about this move and even with the increased commute time, my total travel time about 30 minutes.  I can live with this. I can especially live with the savings in my pocketbook every month due to paying less in housing costs and utilities.  I can live with the way this move will positively impact my lifestyle and increase the amount of time I have available to do the things I want to do like, travel, cycle, and write.  Face it, with no yard to deal with, I’m going to have a lot more time. I’ve also totally eliminated the weekly arguments with my son about whether or not the lawn really needs to be mowed or not, which means I’m also reducing my stress load.

There are other ways that this move will impact our lives.  A new environment contains new requirements for maintenance and upkeep. For example, this new place has hardwood floors on one level and carpet upstairs.  The floors downstairs will need to be swept.  Someone is going to have to have that job every day.  Dishes will no longer be stacked on the counter glaring at us until someone decides to put them away, but they might remain in the dishwasher forever if I don’t assign that chore to someone.  Since we’ll now have an indoor laundry area, there’s absolutely no way we can just dump the stuff out in the garage and “get to it when we get to it.”  I am going to have to make sure the kids understand the new expectations for handling laundry and keeping our nice new place (built in 2005 instead of 1978) clean and tidy.  The list goes on and on.  The place we live in often dictates how we operate in our daily lives.  I am only just beginning to realize how I’ve limped along for the last decade simply because the location we lived in was so unhappy and outdated.

So…the stress and details keep me up.

I’m anxious about making it all happen as smoothly as possible especially where our school year transportation routines are concerned.

I’m very excited about how positive this is for all of us.  It’s going to be a crazy ride, but it will be worth it.  Hopefully, once the move is over, I will be so exhausted, I’ll actually collapse into a deep and contented sleep…maybe for the first time in over a decade.

Summer

It’s August.  The still midnight air hangs heavy like a thick comforter that won’t move, suffocating in its stillness.  The air conditioner is ineffective in my badly-in-need-of-updating 1970’s-style ranch home. You could say it’s a fixer-upper.  The windows, the single-pane aluminum type, gather condensation on the inside during the winter and do nothing to keep in the cool air during these sweltering hot nights.  Back in the days of the last marriage, a second-mortgage was taken out, the amount of which was originally intended to finance the much needed home improvements, however, the ex’s coercive tendencies along with my fear and intimidation of him, combined with my desire for a great deal less chaos than we had at the time, resulted in all that money going toward his custody battle.  It was a losing battle on all fronts.  Custody was not awarded, the resulting parenting plan divisive and chaos-inducing, and it ate up all the second-mortgage money; a total of nearly $30K.  The house remains a fixer upper,  just like my life.

I’m awake tonight, thinking of the summer nights four years ago, when I was homeless, having left my house and my ex under a civil protect police escort because the tension between the ex and I was at an all time high. I’d been advised by the officers to get out, since he wasn’t leaving (and he was much bigger than I). One officer said, “I’m concerned that if you don’t leave, this has all the makings of something tragic we will read about in tomorrow’s paper.”    In the 30 minutes I was allowed to gather the most important essentials, I cut cable wires, grabbed technology, clothing and only the essential toiletries.  Not one of my more glorious memories. In fact, when I have to define the word shame, that episode is one of the top five in my life that come to mind.  In times like that, you quickly learn how little stuff you really need in this life.

I ended up living in a small travel trailer in a trailer park borrowed from friends while I waited for the court hearing to see which of the two of us would end up with the house that I had purchased on my own, without him.  Tonight, I remember those nights.  In the trailer, with my daughter, then six, hardly a lock of any protective value on our flimsy trailer door, a hundred yards from the interstate with the incessant rumbling noise of semi’s barreling by.  There was little sleep to be had during those nights either.

I’m back in my own home now, but on the verge of leaving it again, this time, for good and by choice.  When and how, and where my final destination is, I don’t yet know.  These uncertainties occasionally keep me up at night.  When they don’t, they certainly gnaw at me all day long and re-surface in my dreams. When I was younger, I only had myself to worry about taking care of, and though I wasn’t always certain of the destination or the outcomes of my choices I didn’t have the ever-present concern for another human being’s physical survival and emotional well-being.  These things, these parental worries, nag at me all.the.time.  The worries always end with the final, culminating question: Will the children be all right?

So much has happened in the last four years.  On the surface I’ve gone from sleepless nights frightened behind flimsy travel trailer walls to sleepless nights behind sturdier, but deteriorating, stick-built walls. I’ve rebuilt a life after a very traumatic second marriage and subsequent divorce. My children and I are working on healing, a process which I will forever regret that they have to endure and for which we will all likely be healing from for the rest of our lives.  We’ve established routines and created a new way of being together.  It is a way that emphasizes honesty, respect and consistency.  This doesn’t mean things are always calm and quiet, but they are stable and they are much safer for us all. I have to say, “No, I can’t afford that,” much more often than I used to, but after four years, things are getting better…or they were until the latest recent developments on the job front and with the second ex transpired.  The thoughts traveling through my consciousness vary greatly from details of how I will make ends meet with these new colossal expenses looming on the horizon, to knowing deep down, that somehow we will survive because we always have.

Among the thoughts of financial worries, dealing with the fallout of divorces, job stresses and the well-being of all my children swirls the heat, the deep silence of the heavy night punctuated by the yowling of neighborhood tomcats, there is the knowledge that the bad times don’t last forever, the good times will return though they won’t last either.  This set of challenges must be faced and endure,and though it won’t be easy or fun, at some point in the future, I will be able to look back on these nights, the way I do on those trailer park nights and realize, “I made it through that.  It’s going to be okay.”

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