Monthly Archives: July 2009

I am woman . . .

So this week I finally decided to keep my art/craft workspace (studio just sounds so, eh, pretentious) downstairs as part of the dining room/family room L. Sidenote: is it a family room if there is no family to sit in it? Should I call it the den now? But den sounds so wood paneled, and my family room/den/TV space is bright and airy and open.

Anyway, the choice was whether to leave the artspace (I like that) downstairs, where it’s open to the dining room/family room, or move it upstairs to the office. Now, office is a bit of a misnomer (I have this problem with misnamed rooms, I guess), because all it does is house a couple of printers and a computer that I never use. Never. Well, except for when I have to scan because the scanner is hooked up to it. But I do all my work on a laptop, generally in the bedroom. So the office turned into this, well, storage space with a couple of printers and a computer. When Mr. Ex lived here, it was virtually unusable because he had crap all over it. A mere 10 months after his departure, it’s getting a little bit better, but it still was this hodge-podge of big bulky shelves and, well, junk. A certain daughter who just left for Israel also used it as her junk spot so it took on that neglected, filled-with-important-stuff-that-doesn’t-go-anywhere-else space.

Moving all my art/craft stuff up to the office didn’t exactly appeal to me. First of all, the moving part didn’t. But I also grappled with the space itself. The upstairs office (which at one time was a bedroom – and at one time or another each of the girls used it) is tiny, tiny, tiny. When it was a bedroom it essentially housed a bed, a dresser and a desk. And no more. It’s also hot. I don’t know why, but that room never cools off. It faces southeast and has two windows, but never ever cools off. In the winter I never even open the vent.

I just couldn’t see myself sitting in there. I would also have to put a TV in there (I need the news and views for a muse, I guess). And I would have had to move these 7-feet tall cabinets up from the artspace. Two of those suckers.

The other issue is the space downstairs is adjacent to my laundry room, which means I have ready access to the laundry tub for cleaning off paint brushes, etc.

So, after about two weeks of consideration I decided to (a) keep the artspace downstairs and (b) clean out the rest of the junk from the office and move books into it. There are books everywhere – the family room, the art cabinets – everywhere.

In order to create a nice book space in the office I had to clean it up. First the items placed there by my youngest had to be neatened up and put in the closet. That was easy. Then there was the issue of the bookcase. There was a bookcase in that office that matches the 7-foot cabinets in the artspace. 7 feet high and about 2-feet wide. And 16 inches deep. It’s a big sucker. I didn’t want it in the office. It dwarfs the space and, since it matches the cabinets downstairs, I figured it would make more sense to move it down there, and get rid of a smaller bookcase in the artspace.

Follow me so far?

So I had to move the monster bookcase out of the office. By myself. Using a shift, push, tilt maneuver, I got it out of the office, around the corner and down the stairs. I have discovered that by carefully tilting large furniture you can kind of slide it down the stairs. Without killing yourself or breaking the furniture. I got it into the artspace and replaced the existing bookcase with the monster one. Then I moved the smaller bookcase into the garage (which actually was harder because I did it by moving it over the patio, which is a bumpy aggregate of some sort, so dragging it wasn’t really an option). This stuff is heavy – it’s fiberboard or laminate or whatever, and it’s heavy.

Then it was time to figure out what to do in the office. After I cleaned it out I figured out I needed two smaller bookcases – no more than 4 feet high. I don’t own those, so I had to buy a couple. The last time I needed bookcases (which was right after Mr. Ex moved out), I went online and found the magic words “no assembly required,” but I didn’t want to spend that much money this time.

Of to my friend Target to find some.

Sometimes you just live right, I guess. Or, it was because I was buying small bookcases during “get ready for college” time. At any rate, I found exactly what I was looking for – at $20 each to boot.

I pulled them off the shelf. Put them in the cart. Bought them. Got them out of the cart, into the car, out of the car, into the house, up the stairs. Put them together. I rock.

Things I learned:

If a nice lady offers to help you get the bookcases out of the cart and into your car, tell her yes. And offer to buy her dinner if she follows you home and helps you unload them too.

Don’t try to put them together on the bed. it doesn’t work. You need the floor or a desk.

Don’t pull the identifying stickers off the pieces until you know it’s all put together properly.

Keep the cordless screwdriver charged.

If the house is hot, it will be especially hot while you’re shlepping bookcases and putting them together. If ever there was a time for air conditioning, that is it.

Oh – and I did it all without breaking a nail OR messing up my fresh manicure. Life is good.

6 Comments

Filed under Haven for one, Things I never did before

Best advice ever . . .

God bless Facebook for putting me in touch with old friends. One of the best reconnections I’ve made is with a former (gulp) student who’s now a counselor/coach. She’s got a terrific blog and has some great things to say. The following is some of the best advice I’ve read for the recovering once-married:

Is it possible to fall out of love? Millions of happily divorced couples would easily argue “yes.” But for lots of others, it seems a Herculean task. They can’t possibly stop loving someone, and will be connected to them, heart and soul, forever. This happens to the best. Even if the paramour in question is unfaithful, emotionally unavailable, mean, negative, controlling, violent, flaky, rude to your friends and family, or simply just isn’t that into you and has moved on.

But Billy Corgin is right—we are, ultimately, all rats in a cage. Or dogs. A bell rings, we salivate in anticipation. We press a lever, food comes out. If the food stops coming out or there is no yummy meat powder on the horizon, we eventually lose interest. Extinction. If we leave love alone, it will fade and change shape, and we will move on. But every time you engage with The Ex—send a letter, slash a tire, seek out gossip, make or receive phone calls, pour through old photos, you feed that connection instead of extinguishing it. So if you do want to fall out of love, you do want to lift that painful weight, you do want to extinguish that feeling, here are a few suggestions that might help:

Do not seek out or offer any information that is not absolutely necessary. When you’re letting go of love, you’ve got enough on your mind to process without incorporating any new information. So if The Ex is doing this or that, with this person or that person, does it really benefit you to know? Or does it just make you feel worse? So step away from the phone, twitter, myspace, text, or any other new millennium tools we have to torture ourselves by keeping personal lines of communication open, forever if we want. Extinction is about fading that emotional connection to dust, so memorize a line like “we’re not going to discuss that” if you do have to communicate with The Ex, adopt a don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy with friends and family, and focus conversations on the many other fabulous aspects of your life. And there are many!

Fill up the space with something—anything. Anything, I mean, that is healthy and productive. So no spontaneous sex, shopping or eating binges, draining the liquor cabinet, or all of the above. Whenever you decide to quit something, there is immediately a lot of time to fill. Time formerly spent drafting letters to The Ex, fighting with The Ex, responding to angry e-mails with The Ex—what do you want to do with that time now? Maybe reconnect with old friends. Go to a community event you’ve heard about. Learn something new. Exercise. Exercise. Did I say that twice? Now that you’re not fixating on someone else, you can fixate on yourself—and do something that will make you feel better, stronger, braver, and more confident.

Vent away—far away—from The Ex. Letting go of a relationship can be an agonizing, excruciating process. Do you want to yell? Do you want to sob? Then do it with gusto—so long as you are not doing it in the presence of The Ex. Cry on a friend’s shoulder. Run away by yourself for the weekend. Fill up a fireplace with angry letters and roast some marshmallows. If you have made the decision to fall out of love, that becomes a very individual process which no longer involves The Ex. This might be a good time to consider some therapy—which does the mind, body, and soul good! When you turn the attention onto yourself and embark on a journey of self-discovery, a neutral collaborator can be there to support you, empower you, and teach you a few handy tricks for the road ahead. No, your head will not be shrunk—but it just might be expanded.

Redefine the words you use. Words like soulmate and even the word love itself. I enjoy the idea of soulmates and you can imagine any number of ways to frame this concept. Me, I’m an X-Phile and got all the insight I needed on soulmates from the X-Files episode “The Field Where I Died.” Basically, souls mate—in clumps. Friends, lovers, family, coworkers, enemies, those eternal spirits kind of float through time with each other, appearing in different bodies as they travel on. Your child in this life was your teacher in a past one, for example. Perhaps it’s ridiculous, but for me it’s better than believing there is only one person out there who is a spiritual match. Why not experience having a few great loves, if necessary, by expanding your definitions to accommodate where life is taking you?

There is nothing easy about letting go of love—it’s probably the most painful thing anyone has to do in this life. There is grieving, there is the desire for closure, there is confusion, fear, and great existential anxiety. But there is also beauty, energy, and illumination waiting on the other side. So extinguish some behaviors, embrace your capacity to feel love, and let the rest of your life begin. Onward!

Nancy Goodman, LPC is a counselor/coach living in Pocatello, Idaho, where she writes a weekly wellness/spirituality/career column called “Fumbling Toward Serenity” for the Idaho State Journal. You can read her columns at http://vocatusidaho.blogspot.com. Nancy is available to meet in-person or via telephone; the first 50-minute appointment is always free, and all services are confidential. You can contact Nancy at goodnanc@yahoo.com or 208-478-1414.

1 Comment

Filed under Creating a new life, Empowerment, Moving on

Update

Laura yelled at me because I haven’t been updating enough, so here you go . . .

I changed my JDate profile after my virtual meeting with E. I’ve emailed a few new men, but have had no responses. None! Sigh.

I was supposed to go to lunch with a nice man who I met on OKCupid (I’ve been out with him once for sushi already). I decided to cancel. He’s unemployed, drives a car with no air conditioning, and has a foster daughter who’s in and out of rehab. Sadly, I just decided that this is just not a road I want to travel. Does that make me callous? I’m struggling with that.

So what have I been doing that I’ve enjoyed? Painting, crafting, perusing shelter magazines to figure out how to redo my home. Cleaning out the office, throwing shit away. Taking stuff to Goodwill and getting rid of unwanted items on Freecycle. Did you know that you could even find someone to take your old hamster cage? Yuck.

The problem is that these things strike me as being so, well, solitary.

My mother was always a loner. When we were on vacation she would take the TV and put it in the doorway of the cottage we rented so that she could sit outside and watch her soaps. This, in a resort with dozens of other families. After my father died she led a very solitary life and enjoyed every minute of it. When we moved her into a beautiful assisted living facility with fabulous activities she did nothing. And was miserable because she had to eat dinner with other people.

I don’t want to turn into that. And I do enjoy being with other people.

But, wait, I am with other people. I’m not eating dinner at home one night this week. My evenings are filled with dinners or happy hours out with friends. So what’s the problem?

Is it just that there isn’t anyone at home? Someone special?

This trying to figure out what you want stuff sucks. The options are almost overwhelming.

3 Comments

Filed under Transition

Best pickup line EVER!

So I went out for sushi with Mr. Engineer tonight. This was our third meeting. I even let him pay, so I guess this was a (gulp) date.

Anyway, we haven’t talked too much about our past, but I did say something about having been left.

He looks at me and says very deliberately, “I don’t know you all that well, but you just don’t seem to me to be the kind of woman a man leaves.”

Oh yeah, best line EVER.

3 Comments

Filed under Dating

And she lived . . .

andshelivedSo, having decided to stay in the house, I’ve started making changes and planning changes that will truly make it mine. I gathered up all my courage and ventured into the garage to see what really is in there, and rescued some items to remake. I found a huge mirror that used to belong to my inlaws and a dark picture frame. More on them later. I also spotted this chippy, dingy piece of wood.

I decided to start with the end of my story, so I painted this little saying on it. I’m not sure if I’ll keep it this way – after all, it’s just paint, but for now it makes me smile.

3 Comments

Filed under Creating a new life, Moving on, Singleness

My online profile consult . . .

I had my online profile consult with E. last Monday. Her name is really E. – I’m not just using bloggery first initials instead of names here. Anyway, she had some great suggestions. If you’re interested in a consult yourself, you can check out her website. She was terrific to work with and I continue to be grateful to JDate for their terrific customer service and for providing an opportunity for me to have some of E.’s time.

She trimmed my wordiness, to start with. You know, if JDate says that I can have 500 characters – damnit I’m going to use all 500 of them. She suggested that I cut them. Seems men don’t want to read as much as I thought (who would have guessed?).

She also suggested that I get rid of the photos of me with gray hair. I like the photos, but since I’ve started to, um, chemically enhance my hair, she felt it would be confusing to potential dates.

So . . . men don’t like to read and they’re too visual, I guess. Perhaps someone should create a graphic novel (otherwise known as a comic book) version of a dating site. I love it! You could have questions like:

  1. What kind of superhero would you be?
  2. Who would your sidekick be?
  3. Who’s your favorite arch villian?

Sorry . . . I digress.

So I made my changes, including being a little, eh, vague on the “past relationships” question. That was another of E.’s suggestions. She said that she didn’t actually love that JDate has that question and that you shouldn’t put anything in there that sounds negative.

I did love it when she said that some of my remarks made me sound “Bitter. Funny but bitter.”

Hah! Well, at least my personality comes through on my profile . . .

So, anyway, I made my changes and we’ll see if anything comes of it.

2 Comments

Filed under Online dating

Homemaking

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about my home lately. Well, you know.

First I was going to put it on the market and buy something that has always been just mine. But the realities of the current real estate market and the fact that we refinanced and pulled out equity within the last few years has pretty much convinced me that now is not the time to try to sell. While I may really want to live somewhere else, it’s probably just not the smartest thing for me to do. And, to be honest, I’m not at all upset to remove that potential source of stress from my life right now.

So now I’m looking at my house; the three-bedroom house with a two-car garage on a big suburban lot where we raised two kids and weathered 15 years of marriage . . . and then separated – and trying to figure out how to turn it into MY house. It feels decadent; to have all that space for just one person.

I started thinking about the word homemaker. I’ve never considered myself much of a homemaker. I think that word always just conjured up images of the mom in Leave it to Beaver with the skirt and apron, making dinner at all hours. And dusting. And flower arranging. And it implied, to me, that the home you were making was for someone else.

Been there done that (well, except for the dusting. And the skirt. And definitely the apron).

But now I really want to be a homemaker. I want to make the home; deliberately, with great intent, enjoying the process and the anticipating the destination.

But, homemaking for one? After thirty years of being a wife and mother, that just seems like such a hard concept for me to access.

I’m so lucky to have a home and to be able to afford to keep it – I know that makes me so different from many women in their 50’s who get divorced.

So where do I go from here?

1 Comment

Filed under Creating a new life, Haven for one, Moving on, Singleness