Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I got in a car accident last night. The kids and I are all fine, thanks be to God. My car, however, is not fine. As in it no longer has a trunk. At all.

Here's the funny thing. I cried myself to sleep over this. I'm still crying. What is WRONG with me?? I mean the accident wasn't just a little fender bender, however my precious babies escaped completely unharmed and myself with only a headache. Silly things like cars can be replaced. I'm not sure why this affected me so.

Have you ever had something just trigger a flood of emotion in you? I think that's what happened to me. Sometimes (and it's funny that I just wrote about independence) it freaks me out how my heart handles things differently now that I am divorced. I am the main provider for myself and these children. I bought that car myself and use it to accomplish said provision. And I will figure out a way to work this out. I'm an insurance agent for heaven's sake, I know how claims work and will deal with this one. I'm totally ok.

And yet I'm crying like a baby. It's funny the traffic jam of emotion. There's the tough me, the me that knows I'll deal with this and it'll be fine. And there's the softie me, the one that just wants to lay down and cry. The one that is sad because the first car I ever bought by myself is ruined. The one that wants to cry herself a river because things aren't always as easy as she wants them to be. There's the reflective me, the one that is so grateful that there can be a car that no longer has a trunk, but no harm to the little boy in the backseat of that car. There's the responsible me, the one that has already entered the claim report online and is wondering how she'll replace this car if it is totaled. There's dark me, the one that is mad and wished bad stuff would stop happening to me. And there's sunny me, the one that is just happy we are all ok, and absolutely refuses to let this stop the party.

All those me's get together and the meeting produces quite the emotional stir in me. Ah well...

Bottom line, I say (crying while I say it) that my head is up, my heart is open, I'm a happy woman, so bring it on. Again.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Independently Dependent?

Had too much fun on a Valentine's trip to New Orleans!! The kids and I are worn out but happy as clams.

I have a whole bunch of interesting thoughts swirling. Earlier tonight, my friend Rachel called me to discuss her topic for LIVEChat. Independence and interdependence. I LOVED the idea! It really hit home to me and I've been thinking on it ever since.

Independence and interdependence are at war inside me all the time. I was brought up a little girl who dreamed of having a home and family, a husband who would support me so I could play the role I was "created" for, that of a wife and mother. Yeah, only that didn't happen. For one thing, I got married to a man who worked in ministry, hardly a profession that provides for one-income family type arrangements. (Hmmm... interesting how the very institution that taught me I belonged at home... eh...that's another thought for another blog.) And secondly, any time I was able to spend doing the "at home mommy" thing, well... I hated myself and life in general. I struggled for years to finally accept the fact that I enjoy the challenge of work and career and that is OK.

My point is that I was trained, as MANY little girls are, to plan for and even aspire to interdependence. I was taught that the "right" life for me as a woman would involve interdependence upon a husband to support me and "lead" me in the right direction. It would involve interdependence upon a church and the people around me that I looked to for guidance. Nice idea, huh? Except life doesn't always work that way. In fact, it pretty much never works that way. Without fail, people fail. And so, those people I was trained to be dependent upon proved not very dependable, and some of the ideas I placed my innocent heart's belief in also proved not so dependable.

And thus, I learned independence. I learned that I, a moderately intelligent, generally positive, friendly, creative woman could indeed make it all by myself. Not only could I be independent, but I could handle the dependence of a lot of other people upon me. And you know what? I LIKED it. It's quite a rush being able to accomplish such things. There's just one problem with this kind of independence...


Here's what I know: Being dependent doesn't work. Neither does being totally independent. There must be a balance somewhere between the two. (For anyone who worries what I mean, I do not speak here of dependence upon God. There is no argument that all of us are utterly dependent upon Him whether we know it or not, like it or not. I speak in this instance of human relationships.)

I've got enough spunk that I experience a wave of nausea at being a sniveling, weak, dependent woman who needs a man (or friend, or church, or whatever) to help her make decisions and function in life. I've also got enough tenderness that I fatigue at being a hard-lined independent woman who needs NO ONE and handles everything all on her own.

I find it interesting that I was taught as a girl that dependence was the proper way for me, all the while I was expected to grow up capable of being not only independent, but of handling the dependence of others like my husband, needy church people, my children, and whoever else might come along needing my help. And being an "all or nothin" type of person, it's kind of difficult for me to balance. I find I tend to either deeply feel my need for the friendship, approval, and support of others, or I defiantly feel satisfied and smug in my own independence. I have little middle ground. Which way the pendulum is swinging depends upon my mood, my circumstances, or my situation at any given moment.

Here's what I wonder: What if I could, confident in the fact that I can be independent, choose to risk dependence upon another person? Is there such a thing as independently dependent?

I think so. I also think this is a risk I must take if I wish to have meaningful relationships. I think there are appropriate moments when tough-girl independence is a must, and I think there are moments when I choose to let my heart be dependent on someone, further choosing to believe they are worth that risk, even if they let me down. Perhaps then, I must be independent in order to be dependent. Perhaps knowing I CAN do it on my own frees me to choose NOT to do it on my own sometimes.

Hmmmm.... then I must arrive at the conclusion that I'm an independent woman who sometimes chooses to allow herself to be dependent. Dependence is a risky business. What if they let me down?

But what if they don't? And that, my friends, is what makes relationships worthwhile. Sometimes people don't come through for us, but sometimes they DO, and those moments of sweetness, when a friend reaches out, when a loved one shows up, when a hand is there to hold yours just when you need it most... those are the moments in life I don't want to miss.

So I guess I independently choose to be dependent when I'm ready to be. Or even when I'm not ready. It's a risk I've taken and will keep taking in order to experience love and life.

Depend... kind of sounds like DEEP END. Kind of sounds like where a girl like me isn't scared to swim. Anybody wanna do a cannonball?

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Know what I love?


There are few things on earth more beautiful than a strawberry: perfectly ripe, perfectly red, perfectly topped with a green leafy hat. Strawberries are in season in my neck of the woods right now, and I've spent this afternoon covered in them. I made three batches of homemade strawberry jam! Two high octane batches and one reduced sugar batch for my daddy who is a diabetic.

Now, normally I'm not the happy homemaker type. Oh, I can hold my own in a kitchen and I manage to run a functional home, but I do enjoy transacting business and having a career also. So it's not like you'll find homemade bread or any kind of crafty-type things around my house. BUT part of the magnificence of femininity is that in less than a 24 hour period, I can enjoy traditional homemaking and fast paced career activities... and I mean completely enjoy BOTH.

But I'm getting off the subject... Back to the strawberries.

I love making jam. It's sticky and messy, and I burned my finger but I still love it. You've smelled fresh strawberries, right? Imagine that smell magnified 1000 times as the strawberries and sugar heat up to just the right point. It's amazing, I tell you. PLUS, the process produces this pink foamy stuff that you can include in your jam or skim off the top (most people skim it) and it tastes incredible, has the consistency of strawberry mousse. The jars make the cutest little popping sound as they seal. The whole process is sweet, sticky, productive and incredibly fun.

I've made plenty of jam before, but this time I couldn't help getting a little nostalgic about the whole thing. This time I made the jam in my Granny's kitchen. (I live here, and she's in heaven, but it'll always be her kitchen.) I used a hand held chopper that was once hers. It still has bits of the masking tape she wrapped around the handle to protect her fingers, though my dishwashers have worn most of the tape away in the years I've had it. I stood at her sink, chopping with her chopper and looking out windows she looked out of for so many years as she ran her household. I'm frankly not too sure why I'm here or how long I'll be in this place, but today's moments were part of what I expected to experience here: a reminder of just who I am and where I've come from. I needed the reminder, since lately I've felt as if I'm just back at square one. Maybe I am. But while I'm here, I'm soaking up the facts of who I am so that I can move forward, confident in those facts and in myself.

All that from strawberry jam...

Did I mention I love strawberries?

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Tiny Gifts

Wow, how did Saturday arrive again? It's been a week of learning, and applying some things I've been learning. And it ain't so easy. Old habits die hard, for one thing, and letting life overwhelm me is a very old habit of mine. I'm happy to report, however, that habit IS dying.

This week I gave a presentation for a group of homeschool moms... about making sure we get all the joy out of every day life. Only that very day, some events occured that made it VERY challenging for me to hang onto the joy. Happily, since I didn't want to talk something I refused to walk, I had to force myself to maintain my focus and refuse to allow the hurtful behavior of another person overwhelm my joy.

If a cheating husband, pulmonary embolisms, hurricanes, divorce and single parenthood have taught me anything, they've taught me how to appreciate the small joys and pleasures in life and how to focus on those tiny joys to maintain a healthy perspective. I know all too well that tomorrow could get much, much worse than today. I must enjoy every tiny gift that comes my way. Those small things: the laughter of my children, the sparkle in their blue eyes, cute earrings on sale, the smell of coffee brewing, a succession of green lights when I'm in a hurry, leather scented car jar air freshener, a hot shower, a cold drink. Such things are the stuff of a fun life. They show up on the good days, and on the bad days they show up too.

On good days, we miss those tiny gifts because we don't think we need them. On bad days, we miss them because we are too busy letting the negative things in life overwhelm us. I've learned that appreciating the simple things isn't simple at all. It takes focus, determination, and relentless practice. To put it plainly, having fun is hard work!! But it's worth it!!!