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And check out my joint blog with the love of my life and writing partner Dmytry Karpov: Kimberly ♥ Dmytry

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Vacation Time

Being a single mom doesn't allow for much time to yourself. I'm in a transition right now as I learn this new role in my life and adjust to having kids with me 24/7 with no other help. It's tough. No sick days, no vacation time, no breaks. Full time entertainer, housekeeper, accountant, driver, nanny, etc.

I'm sick today. Really sick. Up all night sick. The kind of sick that makes me want to stay in PJ's all day in bed while someone brings me medicine and rubs my back. Well, I still had to get my 6 year old fed and ready for school, then there's loading all 3 kids into the car for the drive to school. Then my younger ones have bottomless pits for stomachs that need constant filling, the house is a mess, I'm prepping for a Spa Party on Saturday and a 9 hour drive to visit my family on Sunday. This is my stick day. In between all that I have a million other tasks that need to be done, taxes, paperwork for insurance, and all manner of uninteresting but necessary drudge work.

Some sick day. At least I can still spend it in my PJs.

And while motherhood doesn't allow for the same perks as a regular job, or the same relatively sane hours, nothing beats looking into my little girls face as she tells me how much she loves me. The feel of the little arms around my neck and those soft lips kissing my cheek is all the perks I need. Who needs vacation time when I have that?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Staying on the Board

I've never surfed, unless you count body surfing. I grew up in So. Cal. but was never a sufer dude by any stretch of the imagination. However, I did love to swim in the ocean, way past what most considered safe and reasonable, even the life guards. I was "rescued" on more than one occasion simply for being too far out and female. Serously, that's what they said.

Anyways, despite this lack of beach bum education, my dearest friend once gave me an analogy for getting through life and staying on our spiritual path. Her mentor gave it to her. It is staying on the board. No matter what happens, no matter how big the waves are, no matter how hard it may be, just stay on the board. We may not always be graceful or beautiful, we may not always look cool, but as long as we stay on we'll make it to the end. Her mentor was quite a skilled surfer, by the way.

So, right now in my life I know I'm lacking in all grace and coolness. I've no tricks to offer the casual observer, no cool moves to impress the masses. I'm just struggling to stay on the board. And I am. Staying on. Despite the waves that keep trying to knock me off and entice me to a watery grave. I'm staying on. And for today, that's enough.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Good Enough for Who?

What do we do when our good enough isn't good enough for someone else? When giving our all just doesn't meet the minimum standard someone else has for us?
I've been on both ends of this dilemna. Recently. I was forced to end a marriage I desperately wanted to work, because his good enough wasn't even close to my minimum standard of good enough.

And I left a former landlord unhappy because for the first time I had to move alone, and clean up messes that I didn't make. Messes that I wasn't physically capable of handling. Messes that have made my previous landlord very unhappy.

I feel sick for making someone else's life so hard. Sad that I could measure up to his reasonable expectations.

So, where do I go from here? I have standards that must be met in my life. Others do as well. How can we all make our lives intertwine gracefully when it's so hard to meet all these expectations.

I guess there are times when good enough just isn't. And we have to be ok with that and move on.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Following the Script

Have you ever wondered who is writing the script for your life? My sister-in-law posed this question in her blog recently, wondering what role she's playing in the drama of her life.
I tend to script out scenes of my life in my head. What I would say, what they should say, how it will all look in the end. Unfortunately, the people in my life are never following the same script.
So, I keep rewriting what I want my life to look like, taking into account the unexpected things others throw at me. And boy do I get hit with a lot of that. Especially lately. Good thing I studied improv in college. Because if life's a stage and we are merely actors, then we are definitely doing improv.
But that's ok. That's how we get surprised. That's how we grow. We are tested. We are pushed. And pick any analogy or metaphor that works for you, there are hundreds. The point is, if we all knew what the next line was and if we all knew how the play would end, it looses so much of it's impact. We loose so much of what makes us human, of what gives this earthly experience meaning and purpose.
So, I'll recycle my scripts and allow myself to imrpovise and work with what those around me are doing. It may be harder than sticking to my scripts, but the rewards are infinitely better.

Monday, March 23, 2009

It Takes a Village

We have this bizarre notion in our society that the nuclear family is the ideal grouping for raising children and living healthy, happy lives. And yet we are not, for the most part, living healthy, happy lives. What's wrong with this picture?

The fact is "it takes a village" may be a cliche, but it holds a lot of wisdom and truth. We shun the village mentality as backwards and uncivilized while we cling desperately to individualism and consumerism as signs of success. But are we happy? Is this paradigm working? It doesn't appear so.

I have read many psychological studies that have discovered a very sad truth. Marriages are most unhappy and likely to end during child rearing years. Couples are happier before they have children and most happy when one partner dies or they divorce after the children are reared and on their own. Hmm...

Raising kids is the toughest job imaginable. Just ask any mom who juggles work, kids, house and life. (I know dads have these demands too, but let's face, aside from the occasional exception, moms are still playing super-hero more often than not in the family dynamic.)

Many of our problems come from our expectations of marriage. We expect our spouse to complete us, to be the Yin to our Yang, or vice versa. We have this programmed belief that once we meet this special someone we will never feel lonely again. We wil spend our days in the blissfulness of love and completeness. Bull!! Only God can fill that hole, or Spirit, or Universe, whatever you call it. It doesn't come from the guy or girl sitting next to you.

It takes many people to meet our human needs, and many people to meet the needs of our children. I'm a single mom. I know how hard it is to be all things to my little ones. I can't do it. I need my friends and family to fill in the many gaps I leave. They need their grandparents, uncle, teachers, and close friends to help them grow and learn and become who they are meant to become.

And I need this too. In this huge transition in my life I have needed many people, more than at any time in my life. My dad has provided financial help when I was in desperate need, my best friend grounds me and helps move boxes and helps me slow down or speed up (usually slow down), my brother loves me and introduces me to new ways of doing things, my parents provide moral support and a place to spend holidays and love for my kids, my other friends provide temporary homes for my kids when I have to run to the hospital for a sick one, they help me make major and minor moves to new homes, they provide food, help, a shoulder. It really does take a village.

I've always thought of myself as quite independent. I still do. But I'm coming to realize how essential other people are in my life, and I'm also beginning to see that none of them can make me happy or less scared, or my complete. I already have all that. I just have to open my eyes to it and remember. And my village helps me do that too.

Thank you to all my village people :)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

To Do or Not To Do, Do I Have a Choice?

I've been dragging lately. My body is exhausted. My heart, mind and soul feel beat up and broken. I'm forced to spend what little time I have doing things I hate...like paperwork, bill paying, and dealing with poop, pee and vomit from various young beings for whom I am responsible. I'm just tired. My novel is sitting untouched in a forgotten file in my computer collecting dust, while my to do lists get longer and longer. And my energy to do gets shorter and shorter.

Every time I think I get my life into a space that I can handle and move forward, I'm wacked in the head with another crisis. How many more of these must I endure before I can start enjoying my life and my kids and my health, and my work? Seriously, I need a break from myself and everything happening in my life. Some days the only thing getting me out of bed is the need to feed my children.

So how do we decide what to make a priority and what can wait one or more days to be done? When do the to do lists start to take over our lives and make that life no longer all that fun to live? I think I'm getting to that point of tearing in half those damn lists and just take a nap. Or write my book. Anything but more paperwork and lists and demands that I'm just too exhausted to handle.

How do you handle the constant demand for your time and attention? How do you balance the "need to do" with the "want to do's" in your life?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

New Beginnings and Painful Endings

I'm finding that becoming deliberately conscious of my life, my choices, my patternings and my situation is very exhausting and painful. I'm reminded of an old Calvin and Hobbes cartoon where they're careening down a hill on a sled and they are choosing not to notice that they are about to crash into a tree..."Ignorance is bliss" Of course that bliss is short lived. The tree hurts.
So, out of my desperate desire to avoid any more close encounters with trees (hugging them aside) I have chosen to wake up and really look at my life with eyes wide open. If I were short-sighted I would conclude that this completely sucks and the ride was a lot more fun when I couldn't see the crash landing. Now I'm seeing trees everywhere. Where on earth did all these hazards come from? Have they really always been there? Was I really that blind? Apparently.
And I'm stubborn. Ridiculously so. I have insisted for years on seeing qualities in my husband (now ex) that either do not exist or exist in such small qualities as to be insignificant. I have romanticized him and our entire relationship to read like a romance, when I was really living something closer to a horror, or at least drama. He's not a villian, or evil, he's just not who I saw, not who I wanted, needed or could live with. It's taken almost 8 years to see this. All the signs were there. My family saw this right off. I'm a smart girl, so people tell me. How did I miss this? How could I see a knight in an alcoholic who prefers playing video games and hanging out at bars above all else? If I'd been looking I could have seen this in his family, his friends, his choice of activities. It wasn't subtle. At all. It was screaming at me from the word "go." Or "I do" as the case may be. Even before then, what little time I allowed before I walked the aisle.
I could not have picked someone more toxic to me if I had made a list and sought out the person most likely to abuse, hurt and abandon me. Nice, huh?
And now, 3 children later and my 20s gone, I'm sitting at my new downsized house in my new downsized life at 4 am wondering why it took me so long to open my bloddy eyes and see the truth. Obviously I didn't want to. I still don't, sort of. But I had to. And I have to continue to. My girls need to be awake. I need me to be awake.
This hurts, a lot. But that's only because I'm feeling all the pain I hadn't allowed myself to feel in full for the last 8 years. I stayed numb, pushing myself to hold a marriage together that was doomed from the start, giving up myself to care for him and our children, sacrficing my needs and desires to make him happy.
This is the warped message women in our culture recieve. Outwordly we say, "No, that's not true at all." But I disagree. The message is insiduous, but it's there. Put others first. Stand by your man. Sacrfice everything to be what others need you to be. Win the bread then fry it up and make sure you clean the kitchen and get the kids to bed when you're done. Men are treated like gods when they do a fraction of what women are expected to do everyday.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we're victims of others. We're choosing this. We're staying blind. I stayed blind. We've bought into the illusion that if we surrender ourselves to make someone else happy, they'll make us happy. Wake up call! We can't make anyone happy no matter what we do. And no one else can make us happy, or complete us. "You complete me" may be a romantic notion that sets our hearts aflutter, but it's bull. If you're not complete in and of yourself, then there's not a man or woman in the world who will get you there.
Trust me, I've learned this the hard way.
So, after years of staying blind and praying that my husband would work as hard to make me happy as I did for him, I've decided it's time to make myself happy. It's time to recognize that I am complete all on my own. I don't need someone else to make me that way.
And in the process of caring for myself, and finding what truly nourishes me, I make myself a better mom, friend, daughter, sister, lover, writer...human being. So, I've downsized my life so that I can grow. I've let go of the man I thought was the love of my life so that I can discover what real love is. I endure the painful endings knowing it is the bridge to glorious new beginnings, without the crash landing!