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.