Author Archives: A Maine Mama

It’s coming together…

After seven years of pursuing my five year plan, Charleston has finally become home. No more snow, no more scraping windows. While it may be a bit cool during the Charleston winter mornings, it pales in comparison to the frigid temperatures of New England. That being said, I had a wonderful opportunity to begin a new career here as well, transitioning from one admission counselor role into another. While it has been a challenge to start over, to find my new place within my new role, the adventure has been worth it.

Most recently, being that I work in higher education, I have had a unique opportunity to return to school to pursue some goals. Based on where I am at academically and personally, it appears I have an additional three years before I can move on to the next chapter. I will be 50 then, have paid off a few bills, and move on to a remote yet fantastic career. I cannot disclose too much just yet, but I do know that it is within my sights to make this happen.

I talked to my daughter in law this evening, sharing with her my goals and plans. We broke down the various steps to move forward. We discussed the pros and cons of waiting out my path to complete the degrees vs jumping into something new now, foregoing the degrees, and thus not having the kind of credentials I want in my next chapter.

What is nice, however, is seeing that this goal is attainable. I can push through what I need to now in order to attain the success I want in my future. It is coming together. I can see it. It is viable. It is close!

It’s about me….

It’s funny isn’t it, how we wait for years for something to come together and then, the stars line up and throw it right into the sweet spot of our glove. For years, I anxiously awaited an opportunity to move south, to find a career down south, and to live a life including but somehow free of my children. About four months ago, I made the move south, giving up a job I loved and starting something new. Ironically, I find myself happy that I made the move but desperately missing my kids and their drama, and working in a career that I love but am ready to begin breaking away from. It’s a compromise of some kind, I suppose, getting what I want and then seeing that it is glorious but not exactly what I had expected.

What I have found is that the move, beautiful…Charleston, SC a city of history, culture, tradition, art, creativity, and absolute beauty of both older and more contemporary styles. It is the kind of environment that speaks to every creative bone in my body, that awakened something deep inside me and speaking to and awakening that voice inside, and yet, because I must work, must honor my career and commitment, the voice is not being fed and the creativity feels stifled.

So here is what I have decided, I am working on a new writing project and have two angles I truly wish to explore. The first is how I became someone brave enough to walk away from everything and everyone I know to pursue my own life. and then, to pursue my love of writing, travel, and photography starting with an online course program and new website which I will be creating and feeding soon. I look forward to seeing that woman come alive on a page…to see the story be released..to honor the women of strength who supported me and the woman of strength I have become. How did I get here, who built that foundation, and how did I know the foundation was enough to support me. They were amazing those women, and thank goodness my life was blessed enough to include and learn from them.

And the travel pieces? Well…I always wanted a life that would include travel. I spent years moving around the country with my husband and children, and still wished for opportunities to travel and see the world. At the time, while I was waiting for an opportunity to travel, I was traveling all along. I was looking for opportunities to experience life, to see new places, to visit new locations. I was living it all along. And now it is time for me to embrace those moments, to turn those pictorial memories into reality and share those experiences and moments. Long term goal? To write, travel, and photograph full time – we all have that dream don’t we? For me, I’m done waiting and my husband is onboard.

And that is the update, my latest journal entry and sharing of who I am and where I am at.

I’ve been called out!

During a visit the other day with my therapist…yes, I said it out loud… she challenged me to stop hiding behind corners and excuses and to put myself and my writing out there. While the blog counts, she still feels that getting out of my comfort zone is something I need to begin doing more often. That’s considered “growth” from what I have always understood.

That being said, I’m doing a few new things…they are small, but, they are new-ish for me. First, I have stopped eating processed food, leaning more toward veggies and meats. The goal is to completely avoid foods that do nothing for me. Second, I have joined a gym and plan to spend at least 3-4 afternoons a week doing some form of exercise. I’ve spent the last few years making excuses as to why I don’t have time…and now I do. Excuse is no more. Fish or cut bait! Finally, since I will be going to the gym with my niece…also a writer and photographer…we are going to embark on some kind of blog journey. The goal is to partner with my niece who believes that super auntie can do it all, and create a new space where she and I share a voice, perspective, photos, and writing. We can do this, I believe, and my niece is totally onboard.

So there it is…growth!

A challenge to myself!

I’m feeling lately like I have more going on than I do, maybe due to the personal and internal struggle involved in it all. In talking with a friend, I was forced to face once again how little emphasis I put on myself and what I want…how everything I do has a major focus on others in my life…how I don’t deal with my own immediate issues but help others stay on top of their own. In my life, I want certain things and a certain lifestyle. I find myself frustrated and disappointed in who I am, what I should be doing, and why it is I put off the things I love most in life – writing and photography.

I was asked, if knowing this, I had an explanation. The practical side of me says, I don’t NEED the new camera and computer to create more blog posts. I don’t NEED the fancy technology to do what I love. There are more pressing items that need repair or purchase ahead of my camera and computer. BUT – that money is not money going into my own household or life, so what makes it more important? I’ve spent countless hours lamenting the absence of writing and photography in my current life, pondering how my love of these two fields has been so quickly and easily pushed aside to cover the needs of others. Why is the absence of my passion okay?

Today I made the decision that I’m going to begin taking small steps to recover writing and photography in my life. I can use small bursts of time to get out there and take a picture or write a small piece. I can recapture a part of my soul that has been missing. I can rediscover a journey I stopped walking along to suit the needs of others in my life. And I love my family, don’t get me wrong, but right now…I need to get back to me and in doing so, stop focusing so much on everyone else.

That was my plan this summer…to buy the camera and to buy the computer I want. I don’t need to focus on photo editing but rather, getting back to having that camera with me at all times to capture a moment or image. It literally takes a few seconds to pull over on my drive home and capture that image…or, if a thought comes to me, to verbally capture it recorded on my phone so that I can get home and transpose the recording into writing. And in knowing that, it seems a little more realistic already to imagine integrating both writing and photography back into my life.

In accepting the challenge to write and photograph again, I’m going to need to commit time I tend to spend elsewhere, namely in front of my television. Being on the computer all day definitely crushes my will to get back online once I get home. Maybe, however, this will lift my spirit back to where it likes to be, instill the creativity to tear through me like it did a few years ago, give back the voice that I so willingly handed over, and provide an outlet and opportunity to grow my professional writing.

A morning minute…

After dropping my son off at work, I found myself wanting to be close to the water. He works in Wells but the sensation came on in Kittery. Being in Kittery provides plenty of opportunity for being near water.  I didnt want to pay to park or have to drive too far so I went to a new found favorite spot. (See picture)

With my McDonalds breakfast sandwich in hand, I rolled down the windows and took in nature. While the birds landing on the car mirror were a little close for my comfort, I couldnt help but enjoy the beauty before me. 

The calm water and bright green foliage brought comfort, taking me back to early mornings at the lake with my grandparents. I miss them, remember them, and know they would love this spot. The blue sky, so clear and clean, is like a fresh breath each time I see it. I feel energy and joy fill my soul near the water, feel refreshed and calmed. 

It was just a few morning minutes to carry me through the hours of today. It truly is the brief moments that speak to us, or at least to me. Sitting there I felt so at peace, and so ready for my day!

Try again!

After committing to the lunchtime diaries I missed day two! Life threw me a curve, on an errand! I have thirty minutes every day to break, eat, rest, write, read…whatever I choose. However we can now have 45 minute lunches by giving up a break…and that is exactly what I did. Running five miles into Portsmouth by car sounds small unless it is summer during lunchtime with the tourists! What should have taken ten minutes took close to thirty and I needed every second of it! After reaching the bank, cashing then depositing my check, and running for the car I had fifteen minutes left to grab lunch, put gas in the car, and write…well, I did make it back from lunch on time but did not get to write.

 Here I am today however, having started my day off at 5AM. My son made it to work, I got my meds from Walmart, I applied for my car loan, scrubbed my sister’s kitchen with help from Jada, steam mopped the kitchen, have my second load of laundry washing, and it is only just after 1PM! And to keep the momentum, I even found time to write a little bit! Who would’ve thunk it! God bless days off!!

I did want to share my epiphany! Yesterday after running around like a crazy person, I mentioned my writing goal to my friend. Her response was “oh that’s good!” I followed with how happy I feel taking time to write, making time for me. I then asked why, since I/we coach people all day every day to follow their passion and dreams, do I constantly put my own dreams and passion aside? OH BOY…EPIPHANY MOMENT! If I   encourage fulfilling goals, dreams, pursuing passion then what am I doing not pursuing my own? If I want to write I need to write, a schedule allowing myself that freedom dont I? Im not saying quit my job but maybe build in me time…commit to myself and my goals the same way I exprct my students too.

Thats what my lunchtime diaries are about, making time for me and my writing. So two out of three days, not so bad…

Cheers!

10 minutes left

  1. Being that I rarely have time to post these days, i have challenged myself to take charge of my lunch breaks and do a little writing. I aspire to be a writer or so i continue to tell myself and anyone else who might listen or have faith in me. I scramble for ideas and words, finding they often come to me as I drive and am unable to write them down. And then when i get home, the sound of the words just isnt the same as in the car. Its as if the ideas have lost fluidity and the details have lost description. Its as if the words that find a place from the drivers seat get just as lost in the daily chaos as I sometimes do. But i need an outlet for my thoughts, a place to get it down and reflect upon what is happening, to give me perspective somehow or to just give it all a voice. Im not really sure which of those it is or, if it is all or none. I dont get along well with absolutes so i have to believe “some” may be correct.
  2. Life has felt chaotic and hurried lately. Free time that i took for granted for years now seems invaluable and unattainable. In working two jobs now instead of one i find a repeating pattern…its not the same as writing. I love what i do at both places and the people in most cases, but where is my heart and what is this doing to my spirit? I help people define and chase what they love daily…its my job! So what is my excuse?
  3. For me the lunchtime diaries will hopefully answer those questions, get me focused, allow me to pursue what i love, and with any luck open up and create a new chapter. Is this a perfect solution..probably not. Is it better than not writing…indee!
  4. Cheers!

Struggling

I have to wonder if I am the only Gen X parent struggling with twenty somethings that seem to have no passion to move out. I read about my generation as parents, the way that we hovered and coddled our children, how we stuck up for them no matter what, and now, the way we all have kids still at home when at their age, we all had struck out to begin our own lives and find our purpose. I spend hours wondering if it is something I did wrong, some way that I failed as a parent, and what it is that makes them want to stay. Don’t get me wrong, there are obvious answers such as no bills, guaranteed food, and being able to spend their money where and when and why and how they choose.

I frowned on my sister who essentially gave my twenty year old niece the boot. I remember thinking, OMG I could never do that. Less than a year later, my niece is flourishing. She lives in her boyfriend’s mother’s house…so, kind of like still being at home…but works full time, pays rent, and is doing amazing. I am so proud of her overcoming where she was just a year ago, of seeing her doing so well, and shy of having her license, seeing that she really seems to have it together. Was throwing her out the right answer? I’m still not sure, but isn’t the outcome what we all wish for our children? That they are strong and successful and doing well out of our home…I would have to give that a resounding yes.

My husband spends time reading articles in the hopes of helping our sons make that transition. My youngest son has the fire and passion to work a second job if necessary to make things work. He already works full time, loves overtime, has his own vehicle, and is a chef. My older son works part time, has a vehicle that we do not have licensed, and seems content to live upstairs with his girlfriend…I really worry about this son. I love them both immensely but need to see some movement.

Here is my biggest fear though, that if I put my foot down, I will lose the relationships I have with them. Neither will move far away…on the contrary, it is me that wants to move down the eastern seaboard to Florida. I would love for them to join me but more as a neighbor vs. a housemate. I worry that this makes me sound selfish and self centered but I remember the feeling of my first apartment, the freedom, the sense of being able to afford my bills, and the immense joy I felt when I went home to visit. I knew that it saved my mother money to boot, as she was a single parent, and I was one less person she had to spend on and support. I want this for my sons…

Everyone tells me that if I step on their throats, they will move out and get it together. But what if they don’t? That scares me to death…so I’m struggling with my sense of obligation and my desire to reclaim my life. I struggle with the guilt i would feel if anything went badly with just being there, trucking along, until the light comes on. I struggle with wanting more from the money I earn with my responsibilities of being a parent. It’s terrifying…and I get frustrated…and angry..and then guilty again for thinking about this. I don’t know…maybe there isn’t a perfect answer.

A Student Again…

I have to admit that never did I envision myself going back to school. Then, in Nov. 2015, I was given a wonderful gift, an opportunity to work at a college. I had gone in originally to become a student and walked out with a job. Can I say how wonderful it is to be back among learners like myself as well as surrounded by amazing coworkers during the day?

I am an online learner and this term, I am taking an English Comp course. Chapter 1 went very well. Today I began Chapter 2 and though I have done a lot of writing, I feel like a fish out of water. My assignment is to complete a narrative essay…to tell a story from first person point of view that ultimately is about the lesson and not the story. When did a narrative become a lesson teacher? Aren’t narratives just a story? Did I miss something coming up through all the other colleges I attended? I feel like it’s a trick somehow, something that teaching toward those formalized tests threw in somewhere along the way to confuse writers like me!

Don’t get me wrong…I love being a student again, knowing that in the next year or so I will have a degree in my hand (Finally) to be framed and hung on my wall. I will have completed and relearned better writing skills, have strengthened my voice to where it can maybe have value outside the classroom or this blog – we all know I struggle with that issue. But when did the narrative essay become a method of delivering a bigger message, delivering an old adage? I’m floundering…and rambling…if anyone has any tips I am glad to hear them!

New beginnings…

I know, I have been out of the loop for a bit, determining my next steps while getting back to work, recovering, moving, and getting back to society’s definition of normal. Normal, yeah we can go with that for now. But for me, normal has a new definition and it is not dictated by anyone but me.

That may sound selfish, and on occasion, I can deal with that definition but before judging, let me explain. I spent my life always doing the right thing, being the right person, burying my needs and desires and dreams to accommodate many around me. My reward was breast cancer…hey thanks! Ironically, it was the best thing that has happened in recent history, truly a blessing in disguise. I was forced to take inventory of my little world, eliminate the clutter, and with my heart on my sleeve fight for my own survival, literally and metaphorically speaking.

What I discovered is that I am much stronger than I give myself credit for, that my world is full of love and kindness and encouragement, that my dreams and passion have as prominent a place as my family. I’ve learned I can have what I want, a balance, and that my life is full of new beginnings.

A year ago I was recovering from a bilateral mastectomy, awaiting chemotherapy and radiation. I was weak on all levels and tired of fighting the day to day battles. I felt discouraged and frustrated with my life…as though my momentum had come to a screeching halt and Stuck was my new address. This year I am cancer free with it all behind me. On Monday Nov. 30th I begin a new career as a college admissions counselor while pursuing my business degree with a focus on small business management. In 90 days my classes will be free as will degrees for my sons and husband should they choose to utilize my benefits. I have connected with women business owners who are also breast cancer survivors. I have spoken at breast cancer fundraisers. My ultimate goal is to utilize my business degree to assist women in starting their own businesses, especially other survivors. How amazing is it that becoming sick would be the most healing experience of my life!!!

Everyone reaches a point where dreams and goals and passion take hold to morph into new beginnings. I admire those who find and capture it early on. I respect those who take a circuitous route. I admire those who are baptized by fire and illness and find it, embrace it, and follow it through illness and survival. When it is finally discovered, regardless of the path, I admire the pilgrim and the journey. For me, I have seen my path off in the distance for years, always feeling it to be just out of reach, making excuses and putting others needs and wants and desires and demands ahead of my own. Those paths have all converged…my new motto is get onboard or get out of my way. Again, as someone who for years always made way, it feels selfish but wonderful and liberating. We can all walk our paths together but separately…

So there it is, my new beginning shining before me…new career, new schooling, new opportunities, continued connection with the pink cancer web and my sister survivors and fighters. My future is so bright,  so beautiful. I am moved by the experiences that brought me here, by the love and support and encouragement, by the family and friends that stand resolutely in my corner, by the pink web that embraces and inspires me. My new beginnings bring me such joy, such sunshine, such hope.