Finding Your Fire: How One Little Thing Can Change Everything

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Tonight I lit my first fire in my second rental house since my divorce four years ago (looks good, yes?). Not a big thing on the surface. But it’s my first house with a fireplace in 11 years. I was married then. I grew up with a fireplace. In both homes, either my dad or my then husband always lit the fire. My dad did it because, well, I was a kid. My ex did it because…that’s the way it was. (Yeah, yeah, I know – that’s for another blog post.)

I’ve been ready to light this fire since I moved in last June. One of the first things I did was get the fireplace inspected. Safety first! When fall came, I went to Home Depot and got the fireplace tools, a screen, built the tool rack with that stupid little gadget thing they always give you in DIY kits. I picked up a bundle of wood. I was READY. And then…

Christmas came and went. No fire. 

I kept telling my kids, “Hey! Maybe we should light a fire tonight!” But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I told myself it was because I was afraid of looking like an idiot in front of them if I couldn’t get it going (our first campfire fiascos and my ineptitude with cooking over a fire are still fresh in my memory – suffice to say the hamburgers melted through the tripod grill thingy and we ended up eating potatoes for dinner.)

Except there is a YouTube video for everything these days, as I realized when my radiator went out on the road last summer, and duh, DuraFlame. So…why am I waiting to light my first fire on Easter? April Fool’s Day, no less? But it is 32 degrees in Chicago tonight…and then it hit me:

This is another first. 

I thought I was done with those, but I am coming to learn that those never end. They just Continue reading “Finding Your Fire: How One Little Thing Can Change Everything”

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What Another (gulp) Birthday Taught Me

Writers often use life events in their stories because they are the perfect settings for drama, the stuff all good stories are made of. Weddings, funerals, birthdays, retirement parties…it’s all fair game. Characters come alive. Conflicts ensue. Add alcohol, loaded expectations, cheesy music, and voila! The perfect scene for chaos story is born. Or, in my case, reflections.

It was my birthday recently. 🙂

This is us. Me and my musketeers.

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We went to dinner at a nice place, which we don’t normally do on our budget. For once, we ordered everything – appetizers, salads, steaks, even desserts. We tried everything. Twice. One of us had to unbutton our jeans. Not telling who. 🙂

So I always tell my kids – no gifts, please – just a handwritten note is all I want. But they are teenagers now, with jobs and bank accounts and minds of their own.

My daughter made me open her gift first as soon as we sat down. It was a sparkly gold Continue reading “What Another (gulp) Birthday Taught Me”

Moving: Settling into a New Home, New Life, New Way of Thinking

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my new writing space: my backyard

Awhile back, I wrote a poem where a willow tree played a prominent visual role. I don’t know why or where it came from. It just…appeared. Followed by the words. As I write – as often happens – ideas, images and lines come to me. Creative gifts.

I’ve learned not to question.

Shortly after I wrote that poem, I decided it was time to move. On a Thursday night, I reached out to Rich, a real estate agent/friend who has helped me buy two marital homes and rent my post-divorce home. (Yep, I rent. At this stage of my life, I travel light.) I’d been looking for the past two years on and off, but nothing felt right. Not the house, not the location, not the time, not anything. By Friday morning, he had a listing – very rare, met all my criteria: closer to school; extra bedroom for my office; and two bathrooms – a must after three years with three people/one bathroom, all in a town where rental house inventory is scarce. I toured the house on Friday afternoon. Took the kids on Saturday afternoon. By Monday morning, I was negotiating. By Tuesday, it was mine. Two weeks later, my kids and I moved out and in. (Special shout out to my sister for helping!) Four days later, I packed up and flew to California for work. Flew back.

And finally, my first Saturday evening free in my new home, I sat writing in my new backyard. And I saw it.

A willow tree.

I used to believe in so many things.
I love my magical beliefs. 🙂 Everything will turn out alright in the end! You will getthrough “fill in the blank!” The universe or God or someone is looking out for you and protecting you! Everything happens for a reason!  Your soul mate is out there! Everyone means well, you just have to lower your expectations! No, lower! Okay, wait, lower. No – lower.

All of it. I was all in. It’s embarrassing to admit now, but – you know what? Fuck it. That stuff helped me survive. I’m still here and those “silly” beliefs carried me through some of my darkest, loneliest hours. The truth is, I still believe in that stuff…with caveats. Continue reading “Moving: Settling into a New Home, New Life, New Way of Thinking”

Why I Quit Online Dating: One Year Later…Lessons Learned

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Orlando. There are alligators in there. But the water is moving in the right direction.

I wrote about quitting online dating one year ago this month. Seems like a lifetime ago. Enough time and distance to write a follow-up with perspective possibly worth sharing. As Anais Nin said more eloquently than I ever could, “The role of a writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say.” Whether you’re just venturing back into dating after a breakup, considering or in the throes of online dating, recently divorced, or just curious about what it’s like to date again later in life, here’s my story. For what it’s worth. I hope you find what you are looking for.

First: My online dating “stats”
I’m 48. Married 19 years, together 22. Divorced for three. Two teens who live with me full time. I did Match.com (tolerable) on and off for about a year. Dabbled in eHarmony (hated it – too regimented and reminded me of Catholic school).

Why I signed up for online dating
I waited a year after my divorce. I remember telling myself: Continue reading “Why I Quit Online Dating: One Year Later…Lessons Learned”

Cavalier about Croutons: A Reflection on Cooking, Food and Family

FullSizeRender I just finished my first Blue Apron meal – have you ever tried it? This is the Spiced-Rub Roast Beef with collard greens and potato salad. This is not a review of Blue Apron or cooking – as anyone who follows me knows, I don’t review recipes or food. 🙂 But the experience of trying this service got me thinking about food, cooking and relationships. The writer in me can’t help but think about the life parallels and metaphors.

My relationship to food is – like for a lot of people – complicated. To say I was a picky eater as a kid is an understatement. Nothing could touch on the plate. I had to eat one thing at a time before I could eat something else. I had many rules and rituals. I loved sugar. I snuck white bread with a huge layer of sugar whenever no one was looking. I loved to eat Cool Whip straight out of the tub (and put it back – yuck!!). Sugar is my cocaine. (Which is why I cut out desserts and sugar-laden foods six years ago.) There are many things I haven’t tried – burritos, collard greens until today. The list is long and ridiculous.

I am trying to change that and be more adventurous now. Never too late, right??

Meet my grandma: The woman who taught me the meaning behind the food. Continue reading “Cavalier about Croutons: A Reflection on Cooking, Food and Family”

The Vision: A Little Yellow Kitchen, Candles, Music, Laughter

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home. i’m almost out of k-cups and I really need to throw out those bananas lol, we always forget to eat them.

Four years ago, I had a vision. It was, as my visions tend to be, simple: a tiny yellow painted kitchen with a window over the sink. Candles. Music. Laughter. At the time, I was going through a divorce and there was very little to laugh about. I had no idea where we were going, let alone where we were going to live. And then this yellow kitchen scene appeared in my mind’s eye. I didn’t know what it meant or where it was. I don’t even like yellow very much. But after years of visioning scenes, characters and stories as a writer, I knew enough to tuck it away, trusting that the vision would become clear when the time was right.

Continue reading “The Vision: A Little Yellow Kitchen, Candles, Music, Laughter”

Enter “Happiness” into Google Maps: Where Will You End Up?

Sunset landscape

There is something about
Watching an orange sherbet sunset
framed by weeping willows
Sink quietly into darkness
that soothes the soul
(despite the weeping)

There is something about
Walking on eggshells
that changes you
Cheats you
Damages you
Shames you
Silences you
(did you know you could live your whole life this way)

Being told
Don’t tell
Don’t cry
Don’t question
Don’t feel
Don’t be you
(how long exactly does it take for a heart to die?) Continue reading “Enter “Happiness” into Google Maps: Where Will You End Up?”