Friday, October 15, 2010

The Quicksand of Anger

I was on top of everything and moving on. The divorce was finalized at the end of August. The property settlement was less than half of the temporary settlement amount.  But other decisions were in my favor.  It's the nature of an adversarial situation that even when the parties aren't bad people, the game is played. I want to receive more, he wants to pay less. This is one of the many reasons why divorce sucks.

My anger and sense of betrayal is a spiral, just as is my sense of blessing, grace and gratitude. Early on, the sense of betrayal and abandonment were my primary emotions. That's what grief is. And the death of my 30 year marriage was worth mourning.

The grief process is so painful, but through the pain there is growth. I've spoken about some of those revelations here.

Yet with each new surprise comes the wellspring of hurt yet again. The quicksand of anger attacks me by immediately grabbing my ankles, slowly pulling me down, down, down into the pit. The more I struggle and fight the feelings, the more quickly I sink. Thrashing my arms and legs creates an agonizing, imminent death.

Our emotions deserve to be acknowledged and expressed. A wonderful therapist taught me that we can train ourselves to express our emotions without becoming them. I am angry. I have anger. But I am not Anger Personified.

Two months after moving out, when I was still under the impression that this was a trial separation, my husband became involved with someone else. It became serious. It's what he went looking for. Seek and ye shall find.

I found out through an innocent, lovely mutual young friend on Facebook several months later. It was devastating to both myself and our son; here was a chance to be honest and forthright, to let me know that there was no hope of a reconciliation. Instead we were the last to know.

We (my then husband and I) managed to work through the divorce process and just last week we were able to label ourselves "friendly exes."

The reason the spousal support was reduced so dramatically is that he showed documentation in court of his expenses compared to his income, including his rent.  Therefore, the judge reduced the spousal support.

Today I came home to find mail from my bank acknowledging my new change of address. Excuse me? I'm living in the starter home we bought almost 30 years ago. The one that my husband named DisRepairadise. The one that he insisted we re-mortage just 7 years before it would have been paid off. So I called the number included on the bank's letter. I was informed that this was actually my ex-husband's new address. They apologized for the mix up.

The upshot is that he's now living in a house owned by his new significant other (although not yet married). It's worth about twice the marital property that I live in, which he refused to maintain while here. I painted the walls, I held the drill, I hung the pictures. He mowed the lawn 4 months out of the year and complained about it. Now I owe him almost $30K for his share of our property. So, the result of the divorce is that he's actually doing much better financially and living in a much nicer domicile/neighborhood. Meanwhile, I'm working two jobs, approximately 15-16 hours per day, 12 days on and 2 off, just to pay my bills.

I feel angry. My suspicious nature is telling me that this was the plan all along, in order to make sure that the spousal support was as little as possible. His rent payment doesn't exist anymore.

Not only do I feel betrayed yet again, but the quicksand has me screaming for the name of my younger son as it pulls me down. I want my boy to throw me a lifeline, hand me a branch to pull me out. Instead, despite my warnings, he nears the danger himself. I fear he'll go down with me. The relationship between him and his dad has been tenuous for many months. This is a major step backwards.

I must become calm and deal with the NOW. How can I save myself and thereby save my son's relationship with his dad? I can't. It's that simple. The only one who can save me is the One who faced his own pit, his own sense of anger, hurt, disappointment, and a betrayal that took him to the cross.

I will forgive my ex-husband. I understand that what happened is the nature of the process. I will remain joyful and peaceful as I continue to forge my new life. It's God's grace and my commitment to living a life of Christian love that will allow me to do so. I'm not there right now. The sand is still pulling me in, weighing down the cuffs of my pants, my shoes, filling my pockets. But I'm calm. I'm not fighting against the emotions. I'm observant of all that's around me. God will let my eye land on a vine to grab, or discover that the rock of ages is directly under my feet, or bring forth an angel to lift me. I'll sing His praises for releasing me from this sorrow.

I may not be his, and he may not be mine. Maybe we stopped belonging to one another a long time ago. But I am HIS, and that is enough.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Beware the Dream Squashers

How many times have you mentioned a dream, goal or flight of fancy to someone only to have them immediately squash it for you? Probably too many times to count. If it's someone we trust or a person in authority we immediately agree with them and feel foolish for ever voicing our aspirations.

Most Dream Squashers don't realize what they're doing. They are often family members who believe they know what is best for us. They feel it's their duty to point out all the pitfalls of a plan in order to protect us.

Some Dream Squashers say they're "just being the devil's advocate." Listen up! The devil has plenty of advocates and he doesn't need your help.

Many of our dreams are just that. They are musings about "I wonder what would happen if I......" Once in a great while we can create the action steps to bring those ideas to fruition. As we think through logistics, sometimes we realize that particular goal is not really right for us. The Dream Squashers don't want to give you that chance.

Dream Squashers rarely tell us what they like about us. They don't focus on what you can do, or the wonderful person you are. They see barriers everywhere and are all too happy to point them out to you.


I realize that the running may have to be metaphorical because some of the biggest Dream Squashers live in your own house. Do whatever you can not to allow their negativity to hold back your imagination.

Instead, cultivate relationships with the Dream Enhancers. These are the people who encourage, listen and enlighten. They point out to you the marvelous qualities you have that you can't see for yourself.

To help you recognize Dream Enhancers from Dream Squashers, take a look at the language below.

Dream Squashers Vocabulary:

  • You haven't really thought this through.
  • You'll just give up on this like you've given up on everything else.
  • That will never work because....
  • What makes you think you could be a success?
  • Ha! I'll believe it when I see it.
  • Let me tell you all the problems with this plan.
  • A lot of people have tried and failed. You probably will, too.
  • You'll lose everything.
  • Your personality isn't the right fit.
  • You don't have enough education.
  • I just hate to see you get hurt.
  • Let me stop you right there.
  • You're going about this the wrong way.
  • I wish I could support you, but...

Dream Enhancers Vocabulary:
  • What can I do to help you?
  • You can do anything you set your mind to do!
  • I'm happy to be your sounding board.
  • Look at everything you bring to the table!
  • I love how you did A, B and C...I know you can do this, too.
  • If anyone can make a success of this, you can.
  • I'm so excited that you're thinking of possibilities!
  • We'll knock down the barriers together.
  • I'll pray that the right action steps will be revealed.
  • Here's some information about how others have tackled the same dream and won!
  • I'll stand with you and lift you when things get tough.
  • I'm with you!

Notice that the Dream Enhancers tend to talk in exclamation points. They believe in you! They know you can do it! Go for it! 

The biggest step is to become your own Dream Enhancer. Banish the internal voice of the Dream Squasher. God made us in His own image to create, to imagine, to pursue. It's who we are as human beings. So DREAM, and DREAM BIG!!

Faithfully yours,

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Plastic Surgery

I've become a plastic surgeon.

I haven't used my credit cards for several months, except for the Shell gas card when I was traveling. Since committing to Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace method I'm forcing myself to become more disciplined.

Even though I haven't been using the cards they were still in my purse, my drawer, my wallet, my mind. Today I cut them up and put them in this bowl as an offering; a promise to myself that I will walk the path toward financial security and solvency no matter how difficult it may be along the way. They're now in the trash can.

The first baby step of Dave Ramsey's plan is one I have still been unable to achieve because of the divorce proceedings and spousal support issues. But I'm close! Dave wants each of us to have $1,000 in an accessible emergency fund. I'm halfway there.

I'm also up to date on all of my bills. That feels so good! I was never so far behind to have to worry about bill collectors calling me. In fact, the furthest behind I got was 90 days and even then I was making payments, just less than the minimum. I spoke to a customer service rep and explained my situation, bringing my account current. In exchange, they are not going to put the late dates on my credit report.

This is hard for me. As I've listened to the Financial Peace tapes lent to me by my friend Cathy, who is now a graduate of Financial Peace University, I realize that I'm a free spirit when it comes to money. I'm a nerd in other areas of my life, but on money issues I just couldn't wrap my head around it. Amazingly, part of my professional life was making sure my department's financial resources were actualized to their full advantage. I was our family's money manager. We were solvent even when earning little because we've never had a luxury lifestyle. The credit cards have come up as an issue in the past occasionally, but I must admit that I put quite a bit on them after my husband left me. On some subconscious level did I feel I was getting back at him? Was I thinking of anything beyond "I want that?" Was I trying to make up for the sense of loneliness, loss and failure I experienced? Was I simply uncomfortable letting him know about home maintenance needs, or vet bills, or our son's medical bills since he'd chosen to distance himself? During counseling I discovered that it was all of the above, plus a lot of other things, all resulting in my pulling out the plastic to "fix" whatever was bothering me at the time.

My husband and I were one of those couples who could never have an intelligent conversation about money. We had such different views, each certain that he/she was right. In retrospect we balanced each other in many ways, but I sure wish that we had taken a finance course early in our marriage that would have helped us communicate effectively.  

The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is a slave to the lender. - Proverbs 22:7

I will not be a slave to the credit card companies any more. I will not be a slave to my own pity parties with the falsity that "I deserve" this or that. If I can't afford it, I don't deserve it. What I do deserve is the contentment of knowing that I'm becoming the very best financial steward possible.

Faithfully yours,

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Heartache Has Healed Me

 I feel a bit like Humpty Dumpty, sitting on a wall, falling down, creating a mess and no one can put me together again.

That was how I felt when my husband told me he wanted a divorce. Although I had faith that God would help me get through the sorrow, I had no vision for what my future could possibly look like. I was fearful that my loving heart was forever wounded. My primary goal for a long time was simply to protect myself from being hurt again.

I did all the things that people do in my situation: sob, deny, become angry, read every self-help book on the market, wear out my friends, become totally self-absorbed, worry about my children and whether or not they'd blame me, feel guilty, go through every hypothetical scenario imaginable by revisiting a 30-year marital history ("If only I had said this in 1989, maybe he wouldn't have left in 2009.")

Slowly, my attitude began to shift. I would not ever want to go through this process again and I don't wish it on anyone. That said, I'm seeing a change in me for the better.

When your heart breaks, it opens up. Just like Humpty Dumpty with that yolk running all over the place, there is no longer a shell surrounding me. I'm more vulnerable and defenseless than I've ever been. And that's a good thing.

I find wisdom everywhere. In the Bible, naturally, there are passages that have a particular impact on me now that were merely words before.

Just this morning I read this passage from Romans 8:38-39 - - -

I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Our Father has lifted me through family, friends and media in ways that I could never imagine. To be sure, I'm still in the midst of it. The divorce process is unbearably long, and yet I will be able to bear it.

The paradox is this: Vulnerability strengthens us.  Only by admitting my weaknesses, faults, and injuries can I use them to grow into the life I am meant to have.

In The Age of Miracles by Marianne Williamson, the following prayer is offered for those of us dealing with the pain of a break-up.

Dear God,
Please melt
the walls in front of my heart.
Remove my fear
and restore my joy,
that I might love again.

I'm more open now than I've ever been in my life. The walls (or shell) in front of my heart haven't been melted; they've been crushed entirely. I simply have nothing left to hide.

Faithfully yours

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Making a Buck

I've just created a new blog in order to sell some of the bits and pieces of my life.

Although I'm very happy with the judge's decision on temporary spousal support, I won't see any of that money for at least a month. In the meantime, I'm two months' behind on bills and doing a major job search. I'm hoping that releasing some of my belongings will help me make ends meet.

So please visit Piwacket Crafts Online Store for great deals on fabric, books, patterns, completed projects and household items. Become a follower so that you'll know as soon a new items become available.

All prices INCLUDE shipping and handling. I'll accept payment through Paypal, personal check or money order. 

Faithfully yours,

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Coffee Math

I love coffee. It's part of my morning routine. I start looking forward to that first cup before I even go to bed at night.  The whole process brings me pleasure: The aroma while it's brewing, the sound of the drip into the decanter, seeing the perfect color when I stir a few drops of milk into the cup, holding both my hands around the mug allowing them to warm. Perfection!

On my recent visit to my parents' house my mom and I laughed because we had the same reaction to that first sip.....Ahhhh!  Very much like an addict getting the hit.

One of the most important areas of transformation I'm undergoing is a financial makeover. Things are bad right now. Really bad. The mortgage and car payments are being made; some other bills are in limbo while I wait on the court to implement spousal support. My credit as a single is a mess.  So I'm questioning all of my purchases and choices.  I'm berating myself for stupid decisions I've made that only time can reconcile. I absolutely must become a better financial steward or face disaster.

I'm happy to say that my coffee routine passes a thorough examination.

I brew at home and have been doing so for many years. On average I spend about $7 for a pound of coffee or beans (I have my own grinder, but often buy ground coffee when it's on sale).  There are approximately 75 tablespoons in one pound of coffee. Each tablespoon brews one 6 ounce cup.  That means two tablespoons = 12 ounces, or about the size of a cup of fresh brew from Starbucks or Panera.

The math facts:

1 pound = 75 Tablespoons
1 pound = $7 (on average) 
2 Tblsp = $0.18 = 12 oz. cup

That's right. The cost of a delicious 12 oz. cup of coffee at home costs me only 18 cents.  I generally brew 36 ounces every morning and use a take-along cup with me if I have a subbing assignment.

I could buy the most expensive ground coffee on the market and still be considered frugal compared to buying a cup elsewhere. Even the fast food places that are trying to compete with Starbucks, Panera, Barney's and other coffee stores can't compare to my cheap habit.

There's a lot of things that are not in my control right now and I've had to give up quite a bit. I'm thrilled that one of my greatest simple morning rituals makes economic sense as well.

Faithfully yours,

Monday, April 12, 2010

Easter Sunday, 2010

How odd to spend Easter Sunday alone at the beach.

Time moves differently here. Slower, more restful.

Thus begins my first full day of my solo vacation at Virginia Beach. Christ is resurrected and He's given me new life as well.

New life as a single. It's my first trip knowing that I will be solo for the rest of my days. As with all things now, my feelings are mixed.

Although I feel somewhat sad, I'm excited and relieved even more so. My selfishness is surfacing.

This morning I awoke at 9 a.m.  That's a far cry from the 5:30 pup/kitty alarm clock that I'm used to. It was bliss.  I stumbled to the coffee maker before even stopping to pee or brush my teeth.

I had left the drapes to my balcony halfway open so that in the morning the Eastern sun would glint off the Atlantic into my living room. There it is. The cold waves glistening, the sand in variegated shades of tan as the sun hits it.

By the time I finish my bathroom duties my coffee is ready. I sit on my balcony watching a near-empty beach. It is, after all, the morning of Easter Sunday. Most of the faithful are in church. Others are sleeping in.

I see a lot of dogs with their owners go by. Virginia Beach has a marvelous boardwalk. Most walkers stay on the concrete. A black lab and his master bravely play in the freezing surf.  Further down the shore another black lab dances on the wet sand as he fetches a ball for his mistress. She's also walking a Boston terrier who chooses to stay close to her heels.  Not the lab. He's bounding for the ball, then racing back to drop it at her feet again. The lady has quite a good arm. The dog is relentless in playing his game.

As I write this it is still but 11:30 a.m. I've showered and slathered on my sunscreen. It's time to take part rather than merely observe.

My day lies before me unhurried, unscripted, all my own. This is my very own First Day.

(In the top picture of the hotel, my room is on the left-hand corner, third floor up.  In the above picture my private balcony is just above the one on the far left with the patio chair.)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Riding the Roller Coaster

I love roller coasters. Growing up in Cincinnati necessitated an annual trip to Coney Island. As I got older Kings Island with its Twin Racers, and more recently The Beast became de rigeur.  I've ridden coasters at Busch Gardens, Six Flags Houston and LA, Cedar Point, Disney World, Universal and probably a few that I've forgotten.

The fun I have on roller coasters surprises some people because I'm afraid of heights. I mean really, truly, paralyzed-I'm-gonna-pee-my-pants-and-die-right-now scared of heights. One time, when our boys were little, we took a day trip to Serpent Mound in our home state of Ohio.

This amazing ancient site can best be seen from the observation tower.  Here's the observation tower.  It's about 190 feet off the ground (okay, it's probably more like 30 feet, but I'm just sayin').

See the lady on the platform? She isn't me. As we reached that platform I had a total panic attack and had to push people aside on their way up so that I could get back down. Embarrassed much? Oh yeah.

Then there was the time we went to Natural Bridge in Kentucky.  I LOVE walking along nature trails. My happiest vacations have been spent in state parks walking in the woods.

One can actually walk across this bridge. There are no barricades. You just have to stay in the middle. My husband and sons strolled happily across. I practically crawled and cried with relief when I reached the other side.

I admit it. I'm a wuss. Except I like the roller coasters.  With certain exceptions....

The roller coasters I go on cannot:

  1. Go backwards
  2. Have 3-D effects
  3. Go upside down
  4. Have any loops
  5. Have a line that lasts more than 30 minutes
  6. Have you stand instead of in a seat with that wonderful bar across your lap
See what I mean? Basically, my requirement is that it's a straight-forward no-frills kind of event. (Sure, insert the word boring if you want. I'm okay with that.) It goes high, goes down low, I can scream and put my hands up, and then get off the ride without fearing for my life.  I have to be able to see what's coming.

I'm discovering that this divorce process is like riding one of those roller coasters that my stomach can't handle. Just when I think things are going one way, I'm flipped upside down, fear that my arm restraint is going to fly off, and there are scenes of animated terror throughout the entire ride.  I may as well be on a lunar launch. Terra firma feels just that far away.

My goal is simply to survive the ride. I'm dizzy. My stomach goes from my toes to the top of my head. I want it to stop.  I close my eyes, but that makes it worse. There are ugly things that I must see and acknowledge regardless of how desperately I want to look away.

Yet just as I am sure there is a loving God, I know this ride will end. I'll get off of it, shudder and cry, sit quietly as I get the nausea under control, and hug the ground. Oh! How I'm longing to get past this. Funnel cake anybody?

Faithfully yours,

Sunday, March 28, 2010

You Can Look Back, But Don't Try To Go There

I've discovered that it's dangerous to compare who you are now to who you were then.

I've been victimized by my own negative self-talk throughout my life, and am only now beginning to realize my own worth. There have been times that I invited people into my world who confirmed my worst thoughts about myself. That's part of what happened in my marriage. I married someone who had his own self-esteem issues and a critical nature. On some level, I thought that if I could become important in his eyes, then maybe I wasn't as bad as I thought I was.

That process worked for a long time. Especially once children came into the picture I was living my dream. My boys are 2-1/2 years apart. I LOVED being the mom to those little guys. We had so much fun together as a family and in different combinations.

I worked outside the home, volunteered, fixed dinner at least five times a week, crafted, was involved in my church, played board games with my kids constantly, did all the housework and home maintenance repairs.....and now I look back wondering how I did all of that.

That's where the comparison becomes dangerous. I look for my energy and self-management skills and can't find them. They seemed to disappear right about the time I was in my late 40s.

I'm still a list-maker and I'm still fairly organized. I follow the Flylady, too. I still alphabetize my spices. However, I accomplish less than half of what I used to even though I no longer have young sons and all of their school/sports-related functions to deal with. What happened?

I was tormenting myself with guilt. Was it my health? My age? Depression? I've thankfully come to the conclusion that it doesn't matter.

Who I am now is who I am now. What is, is. Each time I check something off my list I feel good. I'm still volunteering, still working outside the home, still caring for my loved ones (even though they are now more of the 4-legged variety) and know that I have a lot more wisdom than the 30-year-old version of myself.

I will probably always struggle with feelings of self-worth. Whether it's in my DNA or I'm a product of my environment doesn't matter. Each step I take in this journey I find new strength to confront those demons and push them aside.  Get thee behind me, Satan!

I've conquered the comparison game. Not only am I unique to humankind, I'm not even like myself from years past. And that can be a very good thing.

Faithfully yours,

Monday, March 15, 2010

Soul Sisters

Hey sisters, soul sisters...gotta get that dough sisters.

With my Soul Sisters, the dough we're getting is the living bread of the Lord.

Gitchie gitchie ya ya da da
Gitchie gitchie ya ya here
Mocca choca lata ya ya

I've been part of a group of dear ladies for quite awhile now. Do you remember the show "Starting Over?"

It premiered in 2003 and was canceled in 2006.  It was the only reality show I've ever really gotten into.

It starred Rhonda Britten as the primary life coach, Dr. Stan Katz as the consulting psychologist. Rana Walker was a life coach for one season, replaced by Iyanla Vanzant later on. 

Six women who were facing life challenges entered the Starting Over house where they were given assignments in order to create the lives they wanted. The chemistry within the house was fascinating. The coaches were empowering. And yes, there were things that were done in the name of therapy that were really more due to entertainment value.

The Starting Over website had several chat rooms available and I joined one. This was after my first message board experience in a "Lost" chat room in which I was reading comments such as "Man, I hope Kate goes swimming again next week!" At one point someone asked the question, "What was that song?" I answered that it was "Beyond the Sea" recorded by Bobby Darin. I was shot down by several of the chatters who said, "No! No! It's the song from 'Finding Nemo'!"  I quickly realized that I was talking to 12-year-old boys. I hoped the same would not be the case on the Starting Over boards.

Sure enough, I found some kindred spirits. I had to wade through the nut cases, but through a series of discussions I was led to an off-site board. While there I got to know these ladies even better.

Our values are so similar. We are all Christians who tend to lean to the right politically. Each of these 14 women are sensitive, loving, funny, articulate and have great strength. We're scattered all over. We check in with each other often, daily for some of us.

We are a community. We laugh together often, cry, prepare for battle, and share our wisdom. One of the characteristics I love the most about these ladies is their honesty. You won't find unanimous agreement on much of anything. And you won't hear someone just giving lip service to another member. What we do have is tremendous respect with constant encouragement for each woman to live the life that God intends for her.

Recently I received some gifts in the mail from some of the ladies. Aren't I lucky!

Teresa, who considers herself craft-challenged, made the darling bookmark with the cupcake on top.  Susan sent each of us a new Victorian magnetic calendar for the year with a matching bookmark, Kathy made each of us a cute little pocket bag to hold cell phone, lip stick, or any other little necessity. Star sent all of us a magnet that she personally made with our logo and all the gals' names. And who could resist the Valentine?!

I love each of my Soul Sisters from this group, as well as the other sisters that God has brought into my life.  In this post, I want to give a Hallelujah shout-out to: Teresa (Magnolia), Arlene, Angel, Ginny, Linda L. , Linda P., Susan J., Susan W., Star, Anne, Allison, Kathy, Lynn and Annette.

Be thankful for the soul sisters in your life, too!

Blessings and joy,

Monday, March 8, 2010

I Fixed My Dishwasher!

Maggie let me know that our dishwasher was leaking by licking the floor in front of it.  She might not ever save me from a burning building, but she'll lick up any liquid she can find.

I knew the sink had been filling while the dishwasher ran, but I usually solved that by running the garbage disposer. I should have known better.

When I stopped the cycle and opened the door, there was water everywhere. I removed all the dishes and the bottom rack. It took three beach towels to mop up the water from the floor.


 Sundance and I gathered our supplies:

  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Measuring cups
  • Screwdriver (although I ended up needed pliers isntead)
  • Towels
  • Extra strength Excedrin (I know myself too well)
I took a bucket and started baling water from the dishwasher's interior. As the bucket filled I dumped it into the yard. I started with the 1 cup measure and went all the way down until even the 1/8 cup was too small. At that point I started using the turkey baster. It was a SLOW process, but I gathered an entire half-gallon using the turkey baster alone!

Looked pretty scrungy!  Next step was to remove the basket behind the spinning arm and the screen all the way in the back. Depending upon the dishwasher you'll either need a screwdriver or pliers. My pliers worked fine.

I removed the parts and can we all say "EWWWWW!" How clean were my dishes actually getting when the water was going through this muck?

I filled a bucket with vinegar water and dumped these parts in to soak. Vinegar is a natural, inexpensive and eco-friendly disinfectant. The acid in it helps break down grease, soap and other yukky stuff. I knew that half my work on these parts would be done just from a 1/2 hour soak, followed by a scrubbing with a baking soda paste using an old toothbrush.

While the parts soaked it was time to clean the rest of the interior with vinegar as well. I cleaned the base, sides and door frame using straight vinegar on a clean, damp sponge.

Your dishwasher has a tube connected to the garbage disposer.  In this picture, it's the white bendable plastic pipe.

When the dishwasher overflows, the problem may actually be the disposer, so I knew I had to disconnect that pipe and make sure there were no obstructions. This time my screwdriver came in handy.  Using a flashlight I was able to see that the tube was clear.

Next I disconnected the trap leading from the sink and garbage disposer.  Make sure to have a bucket or dishpan to catch anything that comes out.  The trap actually looked pretty good, but I put it into the vinegar solution just to make sure. 

With that all clear I next used an auger to go through the horizontal pipe under the sink, just to make sure there wasn't a clog further down the line.

Time to reconnect everything and give it a try.  You can see how clean the basket and strainer is after its vinegar soak and baking soda scrubbing.

Before trying it with dishes I wanted to give everything another shot of vinegar. Instead of detergent in the dispenser, I poured some vinegar in the bottom of the basket. That would help clear any remaining detritus throughout the plumbing system, including the garbage disposal.

It worked like a charm!

In order to prevent future clogs and build-ups I've put it on my calendar to do a baking soda/vinegar cleaning in the sink monthly.  

  1. Take 1/2 cup baking soda and pour into the sink's drain.
  2. Add 1/2 cup vinegar. You'll see the solution bubble.
  3. Let sit in drain for 1/2 hour - 2 hours.
  4. Flush out with a tea kettle full of boiling water.
  5. Run hot water from sink for a few seconds.
  6. Put stopper in sink and fill with hot water.
  7. When sink is full, take stopper out.
  8. This combination is cheap and effective.  If you DO end up having a clog anyway, this solution is non-toxic. It will not endanger you or your friendly neighborhood plumber.
I am so proud of myself!

May all your water be clear,

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Murphy's Law and the Emergency Fund

I've been in Step 1 of Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace/Total Money Makeover plan for about a week now.

Step 1 is to build a $1,000 emergency fund. Dave warns us several times that as soon as we've made a commitment to financial peace, Murphy's Law is going to come into effect. For some families the emergency fund is something they are able to do quickly, for most of us it takes several months because stuff comes up before we can accumulate the fund.

I stopped using credit cards and had a few hundred dollars in my emergency fund. Last Wednesday was my first court date and I was a nervous wreck. I had so many people lifting me up in prayer, however, and I felt it.  Unfortunately, I allowed my nerves and all the decongestant medications I'm on to get the better of me as I was getting out of my driveway.

Our neighbor parks his car directly across the street from our driveway. It's a narrow street so when we back out we have to turn pretty sharply to make sure that we don't hit his car. So on the day that I was already a basket case, for the first time in the 26 years I've lived on this street, I backed into his car.

Oh, the horror when you can't blame your mishaps on somebody else! This was completely and totally my own fault. Fortunately my neighbor was very nice about it, as was my insurance agent. I've never had to make a claim before. The previous traffic issues I've had have been the other driver's fault. So there goes $100 from my emergency fund to pay my deductible.

It could be SO much worse! As a matter of fact, I picked up a sub assignment at the last minute yesterday that practically covers what I had to take out.

As for the court date, it was a big nothing. My attorney prefers that his clients attend in order to get that first time in court under their belts and not feel so intimidated with the process. We also had a chance to confer before and after the appointment time. It was strictly a status conference and I didn't even need to go in.

This Tuesday will be a meatier date to address spousal support and attorneys' fees.  Amazingly, I'm not worried anymore. Between my friends having my back, my faith, and the wisdom of my lawyer having me go last week BEFORE I ever have to see the magistrate, I'm feeling pretty good.

Murphy's Law WILL strike at you, especially when you've made a decision to better yourself. I'm already learning to stay the course and have faith in the process.

Joyfully yours,

Monday, February 22, 2010

Total Money Makeover

I've made some really smart financial decisions in my life that have benefited my family.

I've also made some really stupid decisions that have hurt my family and myself.

Now that I'm facing life alone with limited financial resources, I know that I need to get smart and follow a system that works. 

I'd heard of Dave Ramsey before, but didn't really know much about him.  Then a couple of friends started reading Total Money Makeover. I heard that he uses biblical principles and that he's a straight-talker. I asked opinions of some of my other friends and heard glowing remarks. "It's not easy, especially at the beginning," one friend said, "but it's created a whole new way of life for us that is debt-free except for our house." 

I borrowed the book from the library. (Pet peeve: Someone else who borrowed the same book decided to underline and highlight all the way through it. If it's your own book, fine. I don't understand the mentality that says you can do anything you want to a book that is on LOAN to you!! Grrrr!!!) 

The first two steps are already difficult, but I'm determined to follow them. No credit cards (one of my problem areas) and save $1,000 in an account that you can easily get to. I have some money in retirement accounts, but nothing in savings that I can access.

This is the beginning of a process for me. One that ties in with my new life.

In fact, the first court date is this Wednesday and I am a complete mess about it. It's "only" a scheduling date;  nevertheless it's going to be emotional for me. The last time I was at the court house was in 1979. My soon-to-be-husband and I went there to get our marriage license. Now we'll walk up those steps again, each of us with our lawyer, in order to start the proceedings to end that same marriage.

I won't know for some time how my future will unfold in the way of my living conditions or financial security. I do know that acknowledging that I need to have some kind of plan is the only way I can make it.

I'm looking forward to my makeover, in every area of my life, no matter how scary or challenging it may be.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Women of Strength

The company you keep has a direct bearing upon the kind of person you are. If you choose to surround yourself with people of a critical nature you not only will feel inadequate yourself, but become too quick to find fault in others as well.  There are some people who enjoy complaining about anything and everything. Boy, do they bring me down. I find that gratitude and love requires less energy than constantly finding something to moan about.

I've been fortunate enough to find many women of strength to influence me, laugh with me, lift me when I cannot carry myself, share their joys and sorrows with me, and inspire me to be a better human being.

My aunt sent me this poem several years ago and said that I was a woman of strength in her life. I'm flattered that she believes that. For my own part, I can only say that the words in this poem are what I aspire to be some day.

A Strong Woman versus A Woman of Strength

A strong woman works out every day
to keep her body in shape, 
but a woman of strength looks deep inside
to keep her soul in shape.

A strong woman isn't afraid of anything,
but a woman of strength shows courage
in the midst of her fear.

A strong woman won't let anyone
get the best of her,
but a woman of strength gives the best
of herself to everyone.

A strong woman makes mistakes
and avoids the same in the future,
but a woman of strength realizes life's mistakes
can also be blessings and capitalizes on them.

A strong woman walks sure footedly,
but a woman of strength knows
when to ask for help.

A strong woman wears the look of confidence on her face,
but a woman of strength wears grace.

A strong woman has faith 
that she is strong enough for the journey,
but a woman of strength has faith
that it is in the journey that she will become strong.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Boat Won't Sink and We Won't Perish

One day he got into the boat with his disciples and said to them, "Let us go across to the other side of the lake." So they set out, and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a storm of wind came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in danger. And they went and woke him, saying "Master, Master, we are perishing!" And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; and they ceased, and there was a calm.            Luke 8:22-24

I admit this is a faith lesson. The verses immediately following have Jesus asking his disciples "Where is your faith?"

To my strange sense of humor though, in addition to this being a story of faith, I love its visual nature and how funny it actually is when I picture it.

The scene is set. Here are all these men in a large boat and they're going across the huge lake because Jesus wants to minister to the people on the other side. Many of the disciples are experienced fisherman who are used to navigating this very body of water.

The boat lulls Jesus to sleep. He doesn't have anything to worry about. It's been a long day of walking and now he's settled in for the ride.

But a storm comes up. And not just any storm. A mother of all storms. The wind is howling. The boat is starting to fill with water. Waves are crashing. The boat is being thrown all over the lake. The men are yelling and frightened.

What is Jesus doing? HE'S STILL SLEEPING!! He is oblivious to the whole thing. Lost in slumber.

The disciples have to wake him up! "Hey, Rabbi, could you help us out here before we die? I mean, c'mon, you've got the inside line to God so maybe you could wipe the sleep out of your eyes and do something!"

I envision Jesus being rousted and still not panicking in the slightest. The Bible says he rebuked the wind. It doesn't say he yelled at it. When I've rebuked or admonished my children I don't even raise my voice. I speak quietly, let them know I'm disappointed and tell them to cease what they're doing. That's what Jesus does to the wind. He puts the wind and the waves on a time out.

I'm not sure he ever got to a standing position. He just rolls over, says to the wind and the water, "Knock it off," then turns to the disciples and says, "What's wrong with you? Where's your faith?"

I've always wondered whether or not he just went back to sleep at that point.

One of the most important lessons to me in this story is that the disciples were where Jesus wanted them to be. They're in that boat on the water because JESUS ASKED THEM TO GO.  That's why he questions their faith.  "Do you really think I'd take you somewhere for you to perish?" he practically asks.  "I'm right here with you. Your fate is my fate."  

When God is directing your steps there need be no fear about your journey. There is no storm too big for us to weather because we have Jesus in the boat with us. He just might be taking a nap.

Hugs and blessings,

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mission Accomplished!

Behind this seemingly benign skinny door lies a mess.

This is what my linen closet looked like this morning. You can see that there HAD been some semblance of organization. But it hadn't been cleaned out for at least a year.  My goal was to get everything out of there, purge, group and get the vacuum cleaner into it.  Poor Maggie was really confused when she saw the hallway cluttered with stuff. She wanted to taste-test it all, especially the sponges. I rescued her from eating more than one.

All in all, this project only took me 45 minutes from start to finish. If I had kept at it a few minutes here and there all along, I wouldn't have had to do it at all!

I know exactly what is in there now, items are contained and grouped, excess sheets have been donated to charity, I created a grab-and-go cleaning tote, and there's a spot for the vacuum cleaner. That was time well spent!


Do You Fly?

I'm a Flybaby. I've been flying for about six years and love it.  Do you fly, too?

The Flylady is a great Yahoo group, which is also now available on Facebook and Twitter. Her whole philosophy is to break down your home and office needs and projects into doable chunks.  When I first joined I was deluged with emails every 15 minutes telling me to do this or that. I admit, that part I didn't care for.

I have always been highly organized. I was the kid who never had to be told to clean her bedroom. My homework was always done early. When our boys were little my husband and I planned a trip to Disneyworld with them. About a year ahead of time I developed a day-by-day, hour-by-hour itinerary, complete with the order we would go on rides. All of it was put into sleeve protectors and a binder. When I've joked that I'm a bit anal and slightly OCD, it's not far from the truth.

This ability to organize my time and my household led to achievement in the business world. I was able to make the unusual transition in the male-dominated chemical industry from administrative assistant to department manager over three departments (HR, Public Relations, Training) in a matter of four years. Ability to organize, be flexible and break projects down into manageable chunks to meet deadlines all served me, the company and my employees well.

If you visit my cat Piwacket's quilting blog you know that we usually sign off with a reminder to "Create for 15 minutes."  If you do something for just 15 minutes per day you can conquer anything.  And many times you'll get into the groove and go a little further.

However, it's easy to become overwhelmed and off track in certain periods of our lives. For a little over a year I haven't been my organized self. I've lost items throughout the house because I didn't put them in their rightful place. I've paid bills late. The crud on my bathroom tiles has been laughing at me, because it's winning the battle.  Put simply, as my internal world became chaotic my environment became a portrait of that chaos.

Remember though...MY MOJO IS BACK!  So I've been visiting the Flylady again. Today I'll be cleaning the master bedroom and a linen closet. One of the reasons I like this group so much is because of the encouraging and empowering words to "Begin wherever you are."  If you miss a day, or two, or a month, don't look back at "Oh, I should have been doing this or that."  Instead celebrate the fact that you are doing something today, right now, for yourself and your family.

Peace and hugs from a Flybaby,

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Mojo is Back, Baby!

My pathetic little goal for the holidays was simply to survive them. And I did! Now it's a new year, a new perspective, and I'm raring to go.

I want to publicly thank my friends (cyber and not) and family for helping lift me when I was down.  I have never felt in such comforting arms before and I'm truly grateful.  Your love, strength and witnessing sustained me.

When Keith moved out most of the artwork went with him.  His dad was an artist and many of the pieces we had were either created by him or were given to us from his gallery.  That left some gaps on the wall to fill, so one of the first things I did was remind myself that I could purchase something that appealed to my own tastes. What a concept!

I looked around for awhile and nothing really struck me for a bit. Until I saw this at a Kirkland's store. I loved it right away and was able to purchase it at a 40% off sale.  It's now graced the wall in the family room for several months and every time I look at it I feel relaxed.

Now obviously, art is subjective. For me, I find the colors very peaceful. There's a nice variety of golds, sage, and burgundy. I want to walk down the street, stop in at the coffee shop to meet a friend and have a croissant, pat the dog on the head.  I've been looking at what I own that brings me great joy and expresses my feelings, so that when it's time to move into a new home I'll already have some sense of how I want to decorate it. What is ME?

This piece is now one of my inspiration pieces. Anyone want to grab a cappuccino with me?

Love and hugs,

Monday, January 4, 2010


I'm excited.  I always get excited about the new year and now it is especially so. 

I had to take care of some very difficult things over the holidays. My goal was simply to survive Christmas. It was different, for sure. My emotions were all over the place, I was hypersensitive, plans I had made went awry, and the ghosts of Christmases past haunted me. However, in the stillness of this year I found I was able to focus much more upon the spiritual joy. No matter what our circumstances or challenges, Christ comes.

Psalm 37:7 has become one of my touchstone verses.

"Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him."  This fit in perfectly as an Advent message as well as putting my faith in Him to lead me where He wants me. There is such freedom in knowing that He has a plan for me.

I'm in a much better place now knowing that I did get through Christmas. I attended an absolutely wonderful staff party for the quilt shop. Pat, the lady who hosted the event at her beautiful home, has become a caring friend. She herself is a Christian who went through a very difficult divorce years ago. She's the model of forgiveness. I've already learned so much from her about maintaining my self-worth while forgiving my husband. There's no doubt in my mind that she was brought into my life right now as a teacher. Not to mention how much I covet her comfortable country decorating style! 

I am still. I am rejoicing. I am waiting patiently.

Wishing you love and blessings for this year,