Wednesday, April 9, 2014

"Just let them loose, why don't you, lady?!!!"

A gray-haired lady quietly but audibly fumed, through gritted teeth, at me, "Just let them [my 2 1/2 year old twins] loose, why don't you, lady?!!!" at the grocery store today.

My parents flew in from out of town. My mom, the twins, and I were out shopping. I thought that since I had another adult with me, I would give the twins a change of scenery and a chance to exercise and move about. Instead of having them sit in their stroller, they could walk around holding my mom's hand or mine. The twins were pretty good, for the most part (about 20-30 minutes). We were about to check out, when they somehow simultaneously decided to disobey and run for the wild blue yonder (slight exaggeration here).

I must confess, my first response to this woman's angry words was feeling rather offended, frustrated, hurt, and a bit angry. Who is this woman?

It isn't as if the twins were hanging from the rafters, milling through the shelves, or tripping everyone passing by. I have four children between the ages of 2 and 7, and I do my very best to teach them love, respect, responsibility, and consideration. I let them stretch their legs and arms once in awhile; is that a crime?

Perhaps this woman is from a generation where children are expected to be unseen and unheard. Or maybe she'd feel better if I had them on harnesses or leashes.

Alas, I want to let my children be children, while molding and shaping their characters into good persons. Striking the fine balance between setting rules to be followed (in the character formation process) and allowing their unique personalities to flourish can be a difficult challenge.

Lady, whomever you are and where ever you are, try not to get excited so easily. Life is too short to be so angry and frustrated.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

If only it were a fool's joke; or, maybe I am the fool

Today was a busy day in the making. My older two, one in 2nd grade and one in kindergarten, are home for spring break. That means, I have four children, between the ages of 2 and 7, around the clock. But, to add to the fun, I had invited two girls who had been adopted by a dear family, less than a year ago, for an all-day play date. So, today, I was going to have and did have six children, between the ages of 2 and 7, under one roof, with only one adult (me) all day.

To start the day, I got a super angry, spiteful e-mail forward from my ex. I don't even want to call him my ex, because I do not want there to be any remaining association between us. But, to to refer to him as the children's father would still hint at some sort of residual relationship binding us, albeit real but discouraging one. Our divorce was final July of last year. Since then, I have seen increasing anger, spite, wrath, and dishonesty. Enough dishonesty and lies to leave the judge appalled and offended, when we went to back to court recently. I could sense the hate, spite, and venom rising from the e-mail he had sent to my attorney and copied me.

This day, like most other days, I spent time with children, cooked, washed dishes, started some laundry, and tried the best I could to provide for well-being of children; whilst some angry 40 year old man explosively threw a temper tantrum fit for a four year old. So glad am I to no longer have the ties of marriage to such a man, because such a life would be grievously bleak, unpredictably frightening, and dark. I truly want to be a good mother to the children, and I have trouble sleeping thinking about where I can improve and where I fall short. It is April fool's day. Tears are streaming down my cheeks at the relentless, raging storm I have been weathering. Am I the fool here?

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Question that Left Me Surprised and Speechless

Yesterday afternoon, after church, my four kiddos and I headed to Trader Joe's, a favorite grocery store that opened just last month. I hesitated in going, because there was much to do: cooking, grading papers, eating (for five hungry mouths), amongst other things. But, everyone was very stoked about going.

This store has been only nearly a month. Opened on Valentine's Day. This particular Sunday afternoon was crowded in store. But, push a tandem stroller (with the older two holding on to the stroller) and pull a shopping cart I did. Looking around and picking up a few odds and ends was cumbersome and slow.  But, inch forward we did.

Whilst in the produce section, a male voice said, clearly and kindly, "May I help you shop by pushing your shopping cart?"

What? Huh?

I was doing what I do routinely and sometimes several times a week, shopping with 2 or 4 children in tow. I thought nothing of what I was doing. Well, other than hearing the frequently unsolicited comment, "You've got your hands full."

No. No, I am fine.

"May I help you by pushing your shopping cart?" He asked me again.

The Trader Joe's employee might have even asked me this question three times.

I was speechless.

When I finally got around to finding my words, I told the thoughtful employee that I had never been asked that question before and wasn't quite sure how to respond. I assured him I would get along fine and that I did not want to cause any trouble.

He ended up being my shopping assistant. Wow! A first for me.

I am flattered and tickled pink someone would take action to help me shop!

Grocery shopping must get done. Given that the children and I eat mostly fresh food and there are five very hungry mouths that need to be constantly fed, I am frequently visiting various grocery stores several times a week. Usually, two or four little persons are with me; so, they come along with me!

That man's assistance offering made my day. I was exhausted, but the offer and the actual help gave me a resurgence of energy!

This morning, my four children and I met a friend for coffee. Well, I packed our breakfast, and the children (and I) had breakfast while my friend and I drank coffee. I ended up not appreciating the coffee that was made for me.

But, I do not like to make a fuss.

So, after hitting a grocery store, I went through a Starbucks drive-through. I discretely mentioned to the barista that I didn't really like the taste of the coffee I got earlier in the morning but that I still much desired some coffee. To make the long story short, she said that that coffee I had just purchased at the drive-through was on them, despite the fact that coffee purchased earlier was at a different Starbucks. The iced espresso-based drink was made incorrectly, they wanted to remedy the problem, and they hoped I would visit them (Starbucks) again.

So nice.

At least two blessings within 24 hours. I am truly grateful.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Zoo Craziness at My House

It's nearly 9 pm, and I am working against a fast-approaching grading deadline. Yet, what I desperately want to do is to seek the warmth and refuge underneath the covers of my bed. If you knew half of what my day looked like, you would, too.

I have four children, ranging from 2 yrs old to 7 years old. The older two did not have school today, because of teacher in-service day. So, I packed all of our breakfasts and we headed out to one of my favorite Starbucks. After that, the craziness ensued. The newest member of the family, a kitten who is approaching a year old, we think (she is animal shelter rescue, and her accurate age is unknown),  takes on every inch of the house as her adventurous playground, from the curtains to the twins' bed. Then, the twins, 2 yrs old, are all over EVERYTHING, dragging their toddler-sized chairs to help themselves to items on counter tops, table tops, where ever. One of the twins likes to help herself to toilet tissue 'to blow her nose.' One of the twins (both are potty training) constantly desired going to the bathroom's toilet (though they each have their own little potties). And, since they are potty training, I didn't want to thwart or discourage any genuine effort or desire to go. But, this child also insists on wiping herself (never mind the fact that a 2 year old cannot possibly wipe herself well), getting off the toilet, and flushing. She's in no hurry to get a diaper on after that, and I have wiped up one too many messes on the floor to want to wait. This is happening while the other twin oftentimes is harassing, I mean, playing, with the kitten. He wants to play with the kitten and love the kitten, but that often comes out in the form of laying on her, pulling her tail, or grabbing her fur. We have been blessed with a rambunctious and super active kitten who is gentle with my very active children. Even so, she can communicate 'stop bothering me' in a limited number of ways, so I find myself scrambling to see if my son is terrorizing the kitten and getting hurt in the process of doing so. Then, there is one of the older children, who has a spirited personality, who is known to pick on people; and I had to check and see if someone was screaming because of that. The older two have no problems snagging stuff from the younger two, and the fun never stops.

I was trying to manage the children and keep them out of harm's way, all whilst wiping bottoms, cooking, doing laundry, washing dishes, putting food on the table, tidying up (so I could eventually put in some time to work), and repeating many of those tasks. Now, everyone is in bed, and I have loads of grading to do. But I have very little time. There's no telling when a twin will wake up and want my company or want to nurse (the twins are sleep-trained and I don't give in to nursing requests in the middle of the night anymore, but still. . .). And, frankly, I am ready to call it a night. 4 or 5 am, which is when the twins regularly wake for the day, comes sooner than later!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ash Wednesday isn't just for the 'spiritual'

Today marks the beginning of the Lenten season. Tonight was the first time I have taken the eldest two to an Ash Wednesday interactive service or to any Ash Wednesday service. I had to keep the point simple and age appropriate. The oldest two are seven years old and five years old.

I told the children: We all do wrong, wrong that sort of began long, long ago. God did something very special that wiped those wrongs clean and gave us a chance to be with him forever, by sending his one and only beloved son (Jesus Christ) to die (for our sins).

That there is a being - God - who does not hold that long catalog of sins against us blows my mind. That sort of love that involves forgiveness and grace for all the wrong doings is difficult for me to imagine and accept. Yet that love exists, waiting patiently for acceptance and embrace.

This Lenten season, my focus is learning more about this love, the Lord's love - unfailing love.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Kimchi Fried Rice

Recently I touched base with a friend I hadn't in quite some time, and she asked what I am doing for myself these days. Given that I am a single mom, tending four very small children, teaching part-time, and taking care of everyday matters that consume no insignificant amounts of time and energy, that was a very good (and thoughtful) question to ask. I write, sing, visit with friends. I had forgotten to tell her (or did I?) about my love for cooking, experimenting new territory, and perfecting my own dishes. Well, today was one of those exciting adventures in my kitchen.


Kimchi Fried Rice

Dipping my fingers into first-time ventures took me in the direction of making kimchi fried rice. I must confess that my one major short-cut was that I did not make the kimchi, from scratch or on my own; I bought it from a Korean grocery store.


  • fried rice
  • 1/2 sweet onion, sliced very thinly
  • egg(s)
  • kimchi juice
  • kimchi, sliced very thinly

  • make fried rice - this time, I used frozen peas, carrots, corn; egg; Applegate organic (gluten-free) uncured beef hot dogs
  • bring kimchi to a boil in a sauce pan - I don't know that this is a necessary step, but I used kimchi juice that had been sitting around for a bit (in the refrigerator), long after the kimchi had been consumed, and I felt better killing any unfriendly germs that might have gathered
  • fry thinly sliced sweet onion, with some olive oil, in a pan until nearly transparent. then add kimchi.
  • add kimchi and onion to fried rice.
  • in a clean pan, cook an egg sunny side-up. i like the yoke a bit runny. i made sure the whites of the egg were cooked well by cooking by flipping over the egg to make sure both sides of the whites were cooked (and not transparent). whilst cooking the egg, I drizzled freshly grounded rainbow peppercorns and freshly grounded garlic sea salt.
  • to finish, I put the kimchi fried rice, adding the egg sunny side-up on top.
I don't have any clue whether my version of kimchi fried rice matches authentic versions of Korean kimchi fried rice (I'll be sure to have some of my Korean friends taste test my dish at some point), but one of friends and my 2 year old twins could not eat enough of it! The twins asked for seconds, thirds; I lost track of when they stopped asking for more. Wait, they didn't stop wanting more; I had to stop them from getting more.

I am delighted my dish was such a hit. The popularity of the dish alone made my day.

Oh, and by the way, for all those who are gluten-free out there, the version I made was/is gluten-free.

Monday, February 17, 2014

When the Bottom Neary Fell Out

The day before yesterday was rough. That was the first time in awhile I was nearly in paralyzing despair. The reality that I have not been successful in landing a full-time job for the 2014-2015 year was hitting me like a ton of bricks. The fact that I still have nothing in place to financially provide for the children (and me) nearly put me in debilitating pain.

Even if I somehow do get full-time employment, these children need extra loving and nurturing through a prolonged, difficult and unpredictable time in their lives. How do I juggle working full-time with being fully present for them? Right now, being a full-time mom and working part-time takes no small amount of me. The twins are in full terrible 2's swing, dragging or pushing around their chairs everywhere, for extra height, so they can turn off and on light switches (over and over again), grab things off the counter they desire, make mayhem. Dealing with two, wait four, attempting to exercise as much autonomy as possible can be quite exhausting and time-consuming.

Though I believe tears, whether tears of joy or tears of exasperation, have important places in life, I do not have time to curl up in a fetal position and cry myself to sleep or to hide until everything blows over. I have mouths to feed, grocery shopping to do, places to take children, laundry to wash, food to cook, dirty dishes to clean, bottoms to wipe, stories to hear and respond, students to tend, etc.

Desperate to utilize my despair in a more productive way, I ventured beyond the comfortable and put a voice to my cries. At the end of service at church yesterday, when some of the staff were standing at the front of the sanctuary to pray for anyone wanting prayer, I went up. With tears in my eyes and barely any ability to speak in comprehensible fashion, I asked the pastor and his wife to pray for wisdom on what I should be doing. I cried through prayers bestowed on my behalf. Expected afterwards, I would attempt to wipe away my tears and quietly but quickly find my way back to my seat.

I was surprised by what came next. The pastor affirmed that I have been through a lot. I assume he was referring, amongst other things or events, to the process of filing for divorce (that lasted nearly two years), the divorce itself, and all the difficulties subsumed in this. Tears welt up even more and I was sobbing, perhaps tears of relief. I am not as useless as I had been feeling the day before. Plus, given the church's position on divorce, I wasn't sure I would gain any support as a divorcee.

Depression and despair are not to be merely brushed aside. They can be fierce, unforgiving contenders.

I am glad for reprieve from debilitating despair, for now. Though I have no answers on the difficult questions, I have survived yet another day. Today, I conquered the day with not four children (the older two were off of school for Presidents' Day) but five children (I looked after another young child for a single mom, who had to work and attend classes). Packed breakfast for everyone and we ate at a coffee shop and drew afterwards. Went to Petco, the six of us, and picked up a second Beta fish, an I.D. tag for a relatively newly adopted kitten, and few odds and ends. Did a few loads of laundry, fed children, got potty training children on the potties, bathed four children, cooked, took care of a few work-related tasks, played with the kitten (who was starving for attention and play), and several other tasks.

Today was a good day. I will take what I can get.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Dreading Bedtime


My confession is that lately I have been positively dreading bedtime, especially when it's time for the twins to go to bed for the night.

I started sleep training the twins when they were just a few months old, not just because I am some wise sage or super mom. I have two other children and have learned that sleep training is beneficial for EVERYONE. And, flying solo, I don't have the time, energy, or anything else to hope people drift into Never NeverLand and hold my breath counting on sleep to go well with everyone.  So, this problem of going to sleep or waking up screaming for Mama has nothing to do with sleep-training, okay?!

Separation anxiety is another story however. Good thing I was warned by the pediatrician and others that separation anxiety is something that is visited and revisited, on and off again, up until children are around 12 years of age. Being warned about separation anxiety and living through it are entirely different sorts of encounters, though.

The twins have been taking turns freaking out, and this is, well, to put the matter mildly, wearing me out. The boy sometimes freaks out just because I am not in the same room. This pair, unlike the older two, have been fine with me leaving for brief amounts of time, whether for a meeting or for church service, without panicking or expressing crying outbursts. So, I have been caught off guard by the sheer panic when I am out of sight. I have work to do (how am I expected to keep my job, if I cannot keep up with deadlines), bills to pay, food to cook, dishes to wash, girls' stuff to prepare (for school the next day). Though I would love to just pass out for the night, I have things that must get done!

Usually, when they wake up in the middle of the night, the twins can soothe themselves back to sleep. Not recently. There are a multitude of excuses from the twins: I need to potty. I want to nurse. My nose is runny, and I need to wipe it. Mama, where are you?? Hold me!

That's right, the twins are not yet 2 1/2, and they can talk. Wow, can they make their voices heard.

Maybe this is a bout of separation anxiety with a twist of terrible 2's or terrible 2's straight-up.

Coupling the separation anxiety with two older siblings (who are still quite young) who are constantly bickering and fighting, and a bottomless list of MUST-dos with precious little time, and me stretched in all directions, I am ready to shed a tear or two.

Oh wait, I don't have time to cry.

And tonight, I cannot finish grading papers (before a deadline) because I cannot access my students' assignments. Wunderbar. Good night.

Monday, February 3, 2014

It's my thyroid; it's my iron levels; no, it's my HECTIC schedule!

I have had my moments of wondering why I seem so tired much of the time. Maybe because I am no longer in my teens and my energy levels are not off the charts. Perhaps having four children between the ages of two and seven have some impact. At my last annual check-up, less than a year ago, I got my thyroid and iron levels checked, just in case.

My thyroid was fine. No problems there.

My iron levels were a bit low. I was put on prescription, iron-fortified, prenatal vitamins, since I was (and am) still nursing the twins. In addition, I am eating more food that is higher or richer in iron.

Maybe, just maybe, I am missing the answer which is STARING at me.

On any given day, my day starts out between 4 am and 5 am. Not my choice by the way. The twins think that's a great time to conquer the day. They will whine, talk, and yell at me like icy cold water being thrown on a (sleeping) unsuspecting victim - until I get up. Then it's run like crazy until long after dusk.

Want a case in point? Let's take yesterday, shall we?

The twins got me up before 5 am. I won't insert details of the usual routine (meals, snacks, potty training business), for brevity's sake. After finishing breakfast and going to the bathroom - at 8:10 am, the four children and I went to Sprout's to buy groceries, headed to church, went to two more stores after church, and arrived home just after 2 pm. A friend came over for a scheduled visit, not ten minutes after we got home. Besides getting the potty-training twins on the their potties and giving everyone their lunch, I apologized to my friend for keeping busy while we visited - putting away groceries, cooking, washing dishes, assisting the eldest child in her violin practice, getting the older two to do their recommended amount of reading, shoveling snow and ice off the driveway and sidewalks, bathing 4 children, cutting hair for three of the children, cutting the twins' finger nails. That friend left around 5:30 pm. Then, I got the twins on the potty one last time, gave them their last table food meal, nursed them, went through their brief bed-time routine, and got them to bed. Another friend came for a scheduled visit. I proceeded to get the older two children's dinner ready, whilst cooking food for the next few days and putting stuff away. Once the older two went to bed and my friend left, I had to work (which, at this point, I am doing from home) and get the girls' school stuff ready: uniforms, snacks, water bottles, for the next morning (this morning).

The twins (the younger two) woke up just after 4 am this morning.

Maybe, just maybe, somewhere in all this (busy-ness) lies the answer to why I am so tired by the end of the day.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Dreaming of Romance

My confession tonight is this: I watch some Korean dramas and Japanese dramas from time to time. Handsome men who patiently and consistently court and pursue women who may or may not be interested in them make my heart swoon. I sometimes day dream about someone I have admired and with whom I have been friends for some time. We had so much in common and got along so well. I can't help but imagine 'what if things had been different' or 'what if I had made different choices.'

Don't panic yet! Don't alert emergency arbeiters of reality to slap the silliness out of me and shake  brutal reality into me.

I am still a relatively new divorcee. I am not eager to invite another man into the inner sanctum of my heart, when the last one promised before God, multitudes of people, and me, to love me for better and for worse, but has decided to make my misery his life goal since I filed for divorce. Is there a real man out there who represents genuine care, love, and responsibility; not just another grown-up 'child' I will have to take care of? Is there a gentleman who will truly love my children as much as I love my children?

The skeptical and wounded part of me says 'no.'

I will put the well-being and well-doing of my children above and beyond my dreams.

So, will you let me dream a little dream?

I like to dream a little dream about old-fashioned notions of love, romance, and courtship. One in which I am pursued with much patience, diligence, consistency, and time. A love that persists, that doesn't fail, that grows deeper with challenging circumstances.

Alas, I must return to reality and face my very hectic life head on. I bid thee 'good night.'

Monday, January 20, 2014

From Conducting a Job Interview to Sharing her Life Story

My mom offered a wonderful suggestion, which I quickly accepted, given that the opportunity rarely arises. My parents, who are visiting from out of town, would watch the twins, so the girls and I could go out and enjoy some quality time together.

After lunch, I packed a bag of snacks and snatched another already-prepared bag (of coloring books, white paper, and retractable colored pencils), adding a box of toys that are for outings only (a bunch of Disney princess in MagiClip dresses, with extra dresses to play with); and the girls and I headed out to Starbucks.

We were at Starbucks for over an hour, starting with: eating the snacks I packed, drawing, and then playing with the princesses...

For a majority of the time we at Starbucks, I could not help but overhear the job interview taking place at the table immediately next to us. I also noticed people a couple tables away from us, on the opposite side of where the interview was taking place, eavesdropping on the conversation, too.


Two women, perhaps in their 40's, who own a housecleaning business were interviewing a prospective employee, who happened to be a male (perhaps mid to latter 20's?), for a house-cleaning job. For the better part of 40-50 minutes, there were a lot of questions (presented by the women) and answers (provided by the man). What is your experience with cleaning? How is your attention to detail? How are you relationally with people? What is your work ethic? When would you be available to work? Do you have any known allergies to cleaning products?

The women provided explanations to frequently asked questions, such as: how much money can one expect to make? How much time can one expect to clean or work in one house?

Like experienced interviewers, the women concluded the interview by asking the man whether he had any questions. Will I (the man) be reimbursed for travel expenses, such as gas? How many clients will I have?


Might sound like I was too engrossed in that conversation to really fully participate in quality time with the girls.

I was still very much involved in what the girls did (except I didn't play with the Disney princesses; I just watched) and participated in conversation with them. Call to ability to people-watch while enjoying my own company 'multitasking,' if you will.

Seemed like the interview reached a natural close, and the man got up and was about to leave.

What happened next was a bit strange.

I cannot remember the exact words one of the women delivered, but it was addressed to the man and content was basically,

You didn't hear that I needed a new kidney and my husband provided me with that kidney?!

She proceed to present her lengthy monologue.

Keep in mind the man was getting ready to walk away, after finishing with the formal part of the interview.

Some of the personal life stuff I overheard included: she recently was in a really bad car accident, which left her body, including a kidney, in really bad disrepair. She didn't learn about the extensiveness of the damage immediately. She was nearly blind, and neither her nor her eye doctor could figure out why. She had hypertension through one of her pregnancies (she has three children: five years old, six years old, and ten years old) that continued, and some medical person thought that perhaps the continued hypertension could be responsible for the impacted sight. Later, medical experts were able to detect that a kidney was not only really damaged, but also the damaged kidney was causing other internal bleeding.

The sharing of the most recent high impact events in her life had lasted over 10-15 minutes and was still continuing when the girls and I left to go home. The man gave up his attempted departure and sat back down at the the table with the women. I could not help but feel sorry for the man. Did he stay because he badly needs the job or because he really is, at heart, a counselor and wants to lend a listening ear? I am all for being authentic and sharing one's true self, but, I am not so certain it was appropriate for one of the interviewers to spend that much time sharing her personal story, especially when none of it related to the job or the prospective employee. Awkward as well.

Friday, January 17, 2014

On Beyond Anxiety (and Pain)

May I be real (with you)? I want to share a part of this difficult, painful journey, without embarrassing anyone or causing anyone distress.

Facing the reality that our marriage was "irretrievably broken" was hard.

The process of divorce and what happened during that time ripped my heart out. Someone who had not only made vows at the altar, but also had been through so much with me, could be so full of rage, anger, resentment, and retaliation, that he would go to great lengths to smear my name and to bludgeon any good left of our memories or relationship together. In fact, his main goal involves wreaking as much havoc in my life as possible. The divorce itself was a relief from having any further legal ties to the destructive man.

But the pain-producing, anxiety-provoking sophist antics continue. . .

I suppose if I really took a hard look at my expectations following the divorce, I did not really expect the manipulation and anger spats to stop. It isn't falling short of my expectations that is causing the anxiety and pain. And, I suppose disappointment no longer comes from the fact that someone that was family by marriage, part of my innermost circle, hurt me and hurt me deeply. Though that is true, strictly speaking - he was a person who was intimately close to me, in more ways than one - and though it is true that that made the betrayal all the more hurtful and painful, I am no longer disappointed.

Disappointment comes from having expectations of something or someone and that something or someone falling short of those expectations. Of the sort of person he has become or is or perhaps always has been, I have little expectations of him, in the way of living a productive, good life (a life of good character).

Rather, anxiety and pain seem to come from the fact that I try really hard to do what is right (even if it is difficult or painful), but, I get slapped with slander and jabbed where the wounds are still fresh and tender. I am not expecting a fair quid pro quo between him and me (I may be naive in many ways, but I am not that naive).

I try to give him parenting time with the children under safe circumstances. Recognizing the importance of his time with the children, I have given him time beyond the terms defined in Permanent Orders, to accommodate his time with the children. However, instead of being thankful for that, he has continued in his explosive rage, anger, and retaliation emotions. Perhaps that is I can expect from a narcissistic person who feels wounded.

What I have realized and am still trying to adjust to (in attitude) accordingly is, the only thing I can hope to change is how I react to him and his madness. I do not respond in any reactive way to his spiteful, angry, and accusatory correspondence. I, in a matter of fact fashion, make reference to Permanent Orders and how he has not fulfilled the conditions in it.

But, my heart still hurts.

By claiming that I want to get beyond anxiety and pain, I do not mean I wish to numb the pain and anxiety. If you want to see a discussion of what I say about pain, look here: "Should We Really Avoid Pain at All Costs?" Pain can be an instructive tool. Don't get me wrong, sometimes the pain feels like searing, unbearable pain. The pain, when I read some of his correspondence that was forward to me this afternoon, was pretty intense. And, I do not feel like I am someone who has a high tolerance for pain. Yes, I delivered three children into this world without any pain medication, but those were unique situations. I get really nervous and shy around needles (though I will still get immunized or get blood work done for the benefits), so much so that I cannot look at needles and have to be coached on how to breathe and relax every single time I get immunized or have to have blood taken.

What I mean by wanting to get beyond the anxiety and pain is that I want to work towards a different way of responding to the ugliness. I don't want to lose my appetite or lose my lunch after hearing such spite. I want to be able to not be shocked (out of my wits) but let the junk roll off my back like rain sliding off a rain coat. The man isn't going to change, he's a spiteful and angry man, and I have more pressing things to spend my energy caring, maintaining, and loving. The four children need a loving, consistent, character-building presence in their lives. And I need to put my effort and energy towards them (and me).

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Thinking outside "the box"

I have gotten many tips, from acquaintances and from close friends, that thinking outside the box, insofar as searching for a job is concerned, is what I should do.

Please do not interpret what I am about to say as I take offense at such a suggestion. Far from it.

I am in favor of 'thinking outside the box,' especially when prospects of being employed in academia are horribly grim and, by necessity, As a relatively freshly-minted single mother, I need to provide for the children and me. In academia (when referring to working in academia, I mean teaching at the college level and beyond), the supply is sky high and the demand appears to be abysmally low and crazy selective. I don't suppose I can add activities such as - juggling multiple hats at once (preparing dinner, while giving a couple of the children their last meal for the day, overseeing/managing musical instrument practice of another child, and guiding yet another child whilst she works on homework), or maintaining a home whilst sick with the flu, or working (whilst spending 3 hrs a day on the road taking children to school and from school, cooking, cleaning, washing dishes, doing laundry, getting children fed, buying groceries, keeping up car and house maintenance, paying bills, etc.) - to my C.V.


Schools want a lengthy list of publications and years of teaching experience.

Great, stick a fork in me, I am done.

Nothing counts for the fact that I have a heart for my discipline of choice or that I love to teach. Right?!

Alright, alright. Though I am not ready to leave academia, to never return, I am open to other sorts of employment. But, what?

I am not planning on putting all my eggs in one basket. I am open and ready to brainstorm and pursue plans B, C, and D! But, what does that look like?

Think outside the box.

Yes, that sounds good. But beyond theoretic speak, what does that look like?

Look beyond job boards.

Again, I am open (to that). What does that look like?

Network. Find jobs by building relationships with people and providing people with descriptions of what I have done and what I have experience doing.

Perhaps my imagination has gotten a bit crusty and dry. But, what jobs will magically or miraculously appear and be in the offering, as a direct result of networking with others?!

Remember, looking for jobs takes time. In fact, looking for jobs and applying for jobs can be full-time in itself. I have four children whose well-being depend on me. So, I cannot afford to drop everything and devote all my waking moments to finding a job. So, please, I am more than willing to think outside the box in finding fruitful employment, but can we get beyond the theoretical talk and get down to (practical) business?!

Generosity is not a matter of convenience; generosity is a matter of the heart

A paper is due tomorrow, for which much reading an writing must be done. A work deadline is looming, and many long hours of toil and sweat are involved. A date is impending. The day is busy and has already taken off, and there is too much to accomplish. Children have needs, bosses have demands, work has deadlines, school requires so much.

Life doesn't get easier and slow down. For many.

So, when is a good time to stop and help a friend, an acquaintance, a stranger in need?


The answer lies in admitting that stopping to help someone is never convenient. Most adults I know are weary and heavy from their own journey, from attempting to meet a long laundry list of daily demands and tasks. Understandably so.

But, what about giving? Not just opening one's wallet up and giving money. I am talking about more than that. What about the person who just got let go from a job, in a difficult economy, who needs practical guidance on how to become gainfully employed and some emotional support? What about a single parent who has to weather storms, has to wear multiple hats, and juggle various responsibilities without break or reprieve? What can we do to come alongside them on their journey? What about people who seem to have no one else to consistently support them through life? Life can be pretty brutal and tough.

Do we have moments to spare, to really listen to someone in need? Can we open our homes to those who need a warm, welcoming environment?

I would like to think that I haven't turned someone away because I am too focused on my own obligations, deadlines, or life; or, I am too overtaken by my own difficult (and sometimes sad) situation. I heartily believe we were made as relational beings, just as we were made with skin to cover our blood and bones and other vital organs. Though some covet time to oneself, most of us thrive if we have some interpersonal interactions. I hope I don't ignore anyone around me in need. I probably have and probably do. But, my hope for this year and looking forward is to be generous in heart, to love and to reach out to others.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

My Mount Everest for 2014

With Christmas and other recent holidays past, I have holiday newsletters fresh at mind, with many letters reading like impressive resumes fresh off the press ready for has been working x number of years at her/his dream job and continues to win the attention and admiration of fellow colleagues and will likely receive promotions in the foreseeable future, or so-and-so's children have not only passed milestones long before children of the same age, but, in addition to going to school, these children juggle a multitude of different extracurricular activities every week, win a bunch of competitions in each of those activities, and still somehow have the time to play.

Reading such letters, whether for 2013 or years previous, have made me want to slink into some dark corner weeping. Not that I don't want to celebrate a person's or family's accomplishments alongside her, him, or them. People can manage that much and still stay sane or enjoy life? What am I, some sort of couch potato? The twins wake me up between 4 and 4:30 everyday, and my day is crazy busy until the fat lady sings at the end of the day. But, compared with those resume-like holiday letters, I feel as if I am not really doing anything. it seems like I am not really living life.

What happened in 2013?

I haven't felt ready to openly share about that. My divorce was still not final for over half of 2013, even though I started filing in October 2011. The courts were taking their sweet time. And whilst the time dragged on, the man that once had been my husband for nearly 11 years, decided to make plenty of mayhem: calling a total of three civil assists, under the guise of "a poor innocent father who just wants to spend time with his children and who isn't being allowed to see his children" (though that was not the truth; NEVER MIND the fact that there is a long trail of evidence of his binge drinking alcoholism - loss of a very good job, even after being given a second chance; 2 DUI's within 6 months; countless ambulance rides to the ER for acute alcohol poisoning; how about spending around 10 months in jail?, just to name a few little examples); asking for a CFI (child family investigation) - all for the sake of trying to get unsupervised parenting time (wasn't it enough that the eldest two saw him in very embarrassing, precarious, unsafe circumstances OVER and OVER again, and that is why I had asked him to leave until he could maintain long-term sobriety, which he could not do); lying like a well-seasoned actor or sophist to anyone who mattered or who would listen; trying to purchase the affection of the older two children (but seemingly forgetting the younger two children - never got them gifts for their birthdays or for Christmas). Even after the divorce was finally finalized in July, he continued to stir up plenty of ruckus. I would say, 2013 was a bit of a trying, roller coaster of a year.

I learned many difficult lessons in 2013 from the divorce process alone:
  • A person who had promised to love and to honor me for the rest of our lives turned on me and basically became my worst nightmare. So much for going our separate ways peaceably or amicably.
  • A person in whom I had confided with the strictest confidence, certain matters, as my significant other and partner in life, would divulge what was not his to tell, after I filed for divorce.
  • The person, with whom I had shared that which I had with no other, betrayed me. That made the betrayal that much worse.
  • Anger, frustration, and revenge were and are his modus operandi and I am his sole target.
  • He will forever always be a thorn in my flesh, always trying to cause fresh (or new) and mean trouble.
Moreover, the divorce process and the life thereafter have colored the way I see life:
  • I have some difficulty in trusting people, especially men.
  • My view of men remains rather damaged. I struggle to see men as anything beyond narcissistic, hedonistic beings.
  • The safety and welfare of the children will not be safeguarded or protected by the government. From my own experience as well as numerous other accounts, I have little faith in the legal system to protect the safety and welfare of children, especially where I live, because the system is that patriarchal or the system is more in favor of protecting the "rights" of any biological parent to be with the children than the actual safety and welfare of the children. The attitude is: it is better to have time split 50/50 between both parents, unless one is dead. Doesn't matter if a parent is an addict or unreliable for tending the well-being of children.
  • Being a stay-at-home-mom is not respected in the 'working world,' legal realm, or anywhere for that matter. That alleged 'time off' certainly does not help in the job hunting endeavor. Landing a job that pays for more than some childcare (I need to put a roof over our heads, food on the table, clothing on our backs) is downright bleak.
  • I am not feeling very helpful, accomplished, or marketable. I have four children (and me, I suppose), for whom I need to provide. I have a PhD, and yet, I cannot land a job that will pay for the necessities.
  • Fear, anxiety, and worry about what crazy stunts he'll try to pull next OR over how or when I will be able to fully provide for the children and me can consume me. I have already lost a crazy amount of weight due to stress, and I have reacted negatively, physiologically, to stress in other ways as well.
I do not want fear, anxiety, worry, or panic to consume me. Neither do I want to stop loving others or being loved. One positive observation about 2013 is that my desire to write more about unfailing love grew more passionately and deeply.

Without further ado, let me throw out there my crazy Mount Everest for 2014 -
  • I hope to publish an encouraging, motivating, life-giving book on love: unfailing love. This is a book that is meant for EVERYONE: women and men alike, the younger crowd as well as the elder bunch, the impoverished or the more well-to-do, people of whatever beliefs and faiths, people of all nations.
  • I desire to love and be loved, truly and deeply.
  • I cannot change someone else, such as prevent someone from being childish and continuing to pull mean tricks on me. But, I am hoping to have some better control over how I react. Instead of reacting out of fear, anxiety, worry, or panic, I would like to be so focused on loving others (my children, friends, people in general), that I do not have the energy or time to devote to his craziness.
  • I want to cherish every precious moment I have with each of my four unique and beloved children.
  • I want to reach out to, serve, and love those in need, whether friends, acquaintances, and if resources and time permits, strangers.
  • I hope for a way I can financially provide for the children and me. This point is one that keeps me up at night, gives me stomach pains, and has me in tears at times. I take my responsibility as a parent and the burden as the financial provider very seriously. I am just not sure how this will work out.
  • Be thankful for EVERYTHING and everyone I have, every month, every week, every day, every hour, every minute, in my life.
  • Let it go.
That is my Mount Everest for 2014. Happy 2014, everyone!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Dizzy in the New Year

As people thoughtfully planned how their new year, 2014, would be a different year, I was feeling dizzy, experiencing hot/cold spells, trying to keep my head from exploding, having throat crap, feeling like my eyes are on fire, and hoping to breathe or smell through my nose. Worse than feeling sick was the nagging thought of how I was going to take care of four children, when I wasn't well enough to be on my feet for long. Thankfully, a gals' night, including a sleepover, had been planned for New Year's Eve; and one friend stayed on for two nights to help. That extra bit of rest and sleep helped much; however, I am far from being in the clear just yet. So, I have disappeared off the radar, to gather my senses, any semblance of energy, and rest and sleep to hopefully rejoin living soon. Then, I might be ready to converse about wishes and hopes for the new year.