#prayforparkland

I have no idea how this post is going to be accepted…I may lose followers…I may lose friends…but I just feel a need to post.

I feel a need to post because the tragedy that occurred on February 14, 2018, in one of Florida’s safest cities is heart-wrenching. And I feel that I need to say something because it is weighing heavy on my heart. I know that this school shooting will become a hot topic for political pundits and lawmakers, arguing the stance of gun rights and the role of mental health – both for the right and the left, yet I feel that there is so much more that could be looked at – like the role of the family unit.

But here goes, love me or hate me, I hope you just appreciate a view that is the same as yours or if it’s different than yours, you’ll appreciate the fact that we live in the greatest nation in the world and have freedom of speech.

Columbine

In 1999, the massacre at Columbine High School happened. I was in college, had just recently moved out of my parents home and my little sister was still in high school. I tend to get fixated on certain news-making events…this school shooting was one of them. I became obsessed. It was all that I watched on TV. One of the Vice Principal’s of my sister’s high school worked out at the gym where I worked and I quizzed her about whether or not my sister would be safe going back to school. Later there were bomb threats at my old high school, so I quizzed this same Vice Principal some more. I had to force myself to stop watching news about the tragedy so that I could get sleep. I just didn’t understand why someone would do something so horrific.

I didn’t understand who would hate people so much to want to do this. How could life be so miserable for someone that they would want to end lives – people they were barely friends with and some they didn’t even know??

Parkland

Fast forward to 2/14/18, and I’m asking myself if I should discuss homeschooling with my ex-husband. And this is coming from a mother that knows that she would have to say prayers to the good lord above every hour in order to get through each school day because while I love my children more than my own life, I also know my limitations, and teaching them is not my strongest attribute…but I also know what I’m willing to sacrifice in order to keep my kids safe.

But then the conservative (really more of a libertarian), gun owning, side of me pokes her head out and says, “why would I allow idiots to scare me into taking my kids away from teachers much more qualified than I am to educate my three beautiful souls?”

It’s because I’m a mom and it scares the living daylights out of me that one day I’ll get the call that 17 parents in Parkland received today.

So much will be made of gun rights and mental illness in the next few days and weeks, yet nothing will change…nothing.

(this is where you may start disagreeing with me…)

Nothing will ever change. I stand behind those backing the second amendment and I also see some of the points made arguing the opposing stance and then I ALSO see the point of view arguing that it’s irresponsible gun owners that cause these issues or the lack of certain types of background checks. But nothing will ever change, regarding gun laws, because each of these views have valid points that can stand alone. We are a nation of great minds and hearts…these things won’t change – and in my personal opinion – this is what makes America great – the ability to have such a debate without one side being able to dictate to the other what will happen.

Then the debate about mental health will be raised. And yet, no one will have a perfect solution for this either. After witnessing and living in environments with people that are affected by mental health issues, I can tell you, firsthand, that one person, that I knew and loved, that was severely affected by bi-polar disease, was the most careful and educated and cautious, multiple gun-owning conservatist that I’ve ever met. My kids weren’t even allowed in the room where the guns were kept in massive safes, each with their own combination. And this was a man that knew his disease and was treating it.

Yet, what if you don’t know if you have a mental illness? How do you diagnose a mental illness, when a mental illness hasn’t been recognized?

Consider…

Maybe no one realizes that someone is experiencing depression because this is the first person in their family that is experiencing it and the rest of the family doesn’t recognize the symptoms. Maybe the family brushes it under the rug as puberty and the emotional changes that go along with being 16 and feeling rejected by classmates. I had an amazing experience in high school but I wasn’t always accepted by the peers I wanted to be accepted by and I didn’t even think that the solution would be to kill a soul, so what would make someone snap and want to make this type of decision? Is there a sure-fire way to know what the trigger would be or what the danger signs are for every person?

The parents of this 19-year-old Parkland shooter will likely be in hiding for years to come…and can you blame them? (and maybe they’ll be different than previous school shooter’s parents and be terrible parents that handed him the guns, ammunition and bomb making schematics – only time will tell.) The parents of the Columbine mastermind only just recently spoke within the past couple of years about that horrific day. The guilt that must lay on their hearts, the record that they keep replaying in their heads of what they could have changed or what they could have done differently as parents has to be unimaginable and terrifying on a daily basis.

But this is the thing, or at least my view – when someone isn’t allowed to purchase a gun for one reason or another, yet they desire to do so, they will find a way. So focusing solely on mental illness as a way to cure America of these types of senseless tragedies is a weak strategy…in my humble opinion. And the only hope that this strategy would be successful is that a person would clearly declare that they are mentally unstable when purchasing a weapon. There may be ways that gun purchases could be regulated differently through a checks and balances system with multiple organizations to check for mental health, but think about it this way – if a person is mentally ill enough to want to harm people, don’t you think that they will be able to find a crazy way (pun intended) to make gun purchases happen anyway?

We always want a reason. We always want an explanation. We always want to be able to look at the situation and say ‘this is why this happened.’ I think that sometimes, there just isn’t a reason. There is just evil. Maybe we’ll find out that Cruz had this planned because he was bullied (and that’s a whole other issue), maybe we’ll find out that he lost his marbles and stole his parents weapons and decided to act out a video game that he played after being expelled from school, or maybe we’ll just find out that he wanted to be glorified on the news and receive attention, albeit bad attention. Whatever the reason ends up being, nothing will explain this tragedy to the 17 families now facing funeral arrangements for children.

Look within instead??

What if we take this and look at our own families…with the blinders off (as much as possible)? Would we be able to recognize a 12 yr old that is struggling to make friends? Would we show them how to make friends and cultivate friendships through our own example or would we tease them for being different? Would we tease them in front of their friends about how skinny they are and that they need to put some weight on if they are ever going to be able to play a sport? Or could we teach them how to be confident in their own skin because they’ve seen our example? Would we go out for drinks with our buddies, ignoring the fact that our kid asked us to help with a major project for school? Or would we teach our kid that their needs come before our own and then reschedule the guys-night for the next week?

I think sometimes the questions should be asked, “Are we serving our own needs before our kids or are we listening to them, watching them, spending time with them, relating to them, showing them that we care, disciplining correctly, talking WITH them not at them? Are we remembering that they didn’t make the choice for us to be their parent – WE made the choice to have a child and it is our responsibility to raise them in a safe, secure, and sound environment?”

There is COMPLETELY a time and a place for alone time, as an adult, parent, spouse, etc. but the kids should come first. They’ve never been 13 before – we have…teach them, guide them, respect them, love them. If you do the hard work first, invest the time and love in your kids first, then hopefully, if there are mental health issues, the issues will be clear, recognizable, and addressed early on…not ignored until they are 19 and the issue is so humongous that no one knows how to deal with it and the kids get ignored until they need attention so badly that they end the lives of children and educators.

I guess my point in ticking so many of you off with my viewpoints, is that I wish, in addition to the arguments about guns and mental health, there were more discussions about the family; about how ‘the family’ can cope, deal, learn from and become stronger after these tragedies so that other horrific events like Parkland were prevented because the family unit has been so closely knit that mental illness would come to the forefront faster. And that there was an accountability and love that was so strong that the desire to harm another human heart didn’t exist. Focusing on the family could be fun, cheaper, and could make this country stronger than it already is. I feel so fortunate to have come from a solid family and let me tell you – I wouldn’t have my sanity, after divorce #2, had it not been for my family and closest friends.

This morning when I saw my mom, I was very focused on confirming some appointments on my phone. My mom paid attention to my body language and felt as though I was sad and checked in on me a little later, when in reality I was fine – actually great – just super focused. But the pure fact that she cared enough to check on me meant a lot AND the fact that she’s active in my life enough to know my moods, sets me up for strength during one of the toughest moments in my life. It’s not just teenagers that need support sometimes.

Regardless of what side of the arguments you are on, there are families in South Florida tonight that are feeling the tremendous loss of a loved one, likely a child, that had their whole future taken from them in the blink of an eye. Their pain must be so great. Please keep #Parkland in your prayers.

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my next chapter – the intro

“God only gives you as much as you can handle.”

We all know the phrase, “God only gives you as much as you can handle.” I truly feel that this is such a falsehood to believe on so many levels.

Here me out.

I recently sent an email to my divorce attorneys telling them whether or not I was willing to accept the pathetic excuse of documentation that my soon-to-be-ex submitted and go to mediation or pursue the documentation further. I put a lot of thought into the email and by the end of it, I realized just how tired of this garbage I truly am. He’s exhausted me and I just want out. I just want to be done with him and be done with this marriage.

Reflecting over the past year, I realize that I have been through some tough stuff…some horrible garbage, and I’m kind of proud of myself for still having a smile on my face each day.

So to my point – God didn’t turn and look at me one day and say, “I think I’m going to put Staci through misery and make her experience horrible things from her husband because there’s some lesson I want her to learn and because I know she can handle it.” Heck no. God didn’t purposely dish this {insert poop emoji} out to me.

Through my beliefs, I know that God knew what my husband would do to me this year but I truly believe that he looked at me and said, “someone in your life is going to make some bad choices that will negatively affect you and the kids, but I will make you tough enough and I will be there for you through each step and I’ll help you make lemonade out of lemons.”

I think that the phrase should be changed from “God only gives you as much as you can handle” to “God will give you enough strength to handle what is happening in your life.” God isn’t punishing me for something…he’s helping me through something that a bad person chose to do to me and the kids. And in that knowledge I can take comfort.

I’m so thankful for my faith because without it, I honestly think I would be in a deep, deep depression. But instead, the kids are thriving, I have the hope of love again one day whenever I’m ready for a relationship, life is actually better now than when we were together, and I’m almost financially back on my feet. I can feel how close I am…

The Start of my Next Chapter

The career that I left, multifamily property management, to help my husband market his business, was a rare find and was in a unique niche…one that is hard to find, for the most part, unless you are able to move to the northeast, Texas, or the west coast and I am not able to move, for family reasons. So my hunt for a new, permanent, career has been tough. I can’t tell you how often I’ve been told, “You’re overqualified” or the advice I’ve been given, “dumb down your resume” – both of these are just as heart wrenching as being rejected for a job that you really wanted.

Taking brave steps

So while I’m still searching for the perfect fit for me and the kids, I’ve started working on something that I dabbled with when I left my career – my own consulting business.

My heart belongs in marketing and working with people and I’ve come to master the art of diagnosing customer service issues as well as having a thorough understanding of increasing a small business’ marketing footprint online. And while I love to offer advice and tell people what they can be doing better, I’ve realized that it’s somewhat challenging to market my own business so this is my newest goal – the intro to ‘my next chapter’ so-to-speak.

Blogging has helped me hone my digital marketing skills and truly opened my eyes to the vast number of people out there trying to do the same thing that I’m trying to do – balance the kids and home-life with a job to be financially beneficial to everyone.

Marketing a new business is tough…sometimes marketing an existing business is tough…and not in the respect that it’s hard to understand how to do, but if there isn’t a marketing plan in place or the time present, the marketing avenues that someone has in front of them can be extremely overwhelming. Not only do you have to create the product for your customers to buy, you have to find the customers and share what you are selling to the world.

That is what can be overwhelming and where I’m trying to step in to help those that would rather focus on designing kids clothes, writing their novel, creating a relaxing environment for their clients in their new salon, or want to draw customers into their brand new restaurant. They get to create their product and offer their services and I get to help them refine techniques currently in place, within their business, so that once we find the customers the business is ready for them. Then I get to help find their customers through social media and their online presence as well as provide tips to ‘market-on-foot’ (more traditional avenues).

So while I try to figure out what my future career path is and what will fully support my newly defined ‘Fab-Four’, I’m working toward helping others…Helping others reach new heights with their business. (And it may help me reach my dream of working for myself for the years to come.)

Should you know anyone that is struggling with marketing their business, send them my way. I will forever owe you one!

Contact Take Charge Marketing!

Take Charge Marketing (click to go to the website)
Email: takechargemarketing2016@gmail.com

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Please note that this post and most of the posts on my website/blog may contain affiliate links. Should you decide to click on one of these ads and purchase something through this link, I will get a commission from it (the pricing is no different for you than going directly to their website)(I do not get commissions from sites where you donate money or things). Not all items recommended on this site are affiliate links. I only recommend items that I feel are amazing because I’ve used and tried them. Thank you for your trust and readership!

my mother is my hero

Each year, months are designated to support different types of cancer to raise awareness and funding for research.

My two favorites are September and October.

September focuses on Childhood Cancers, some of the most underfunded cancers that need more attention and financial support. October focuses on Breast Cancer awareness, which receives a ton of attention and millions and billions of dollars in funding. It hasn’t always been that way and I’m hoping that with the increased attention that Childhood Cancer has been getting in recent years that one day we can say that Childhood Cancer and Breast Cancer BOTH receive millions and billions of dollars in funding each year.

Until then I’ll keep promoting both.

It’s Personal.

What I CAN say is that Breast Cancer is a personal issue for me…really for my mother.

I will never forget getting the phone call from my dad to tell me that my mom had been diagnosed with breast cancer. It wasn’t something readily discussed 17 years ago so it was not only a shock to my emotions but also to my brain. What was this? What caused this? What will this mean for my mom? For my parents? Will she live? How are the different stages defined? What kind of breast cancer is this? What will my mom go through? What will my dad go through? Will my sister and I get this too? There’s how many types of breast cancer??

A lot to digest. A lot to understand. But I wasn’t the one that went through this. My mother was. She was the one that had to fight this disease and beat it.

When I heard.

I had just turned 20. I had just moved out and was living in my first apartment. Life was fun and carefree…life didn’t have speedbumps…but my mom’s life was getting ready to. My dad, my sister and my mom lived this every day and I have struggled with a touch of guilt for not being there for my parents and my sister every day like I would have been if I had been living at home. I know though, that there’s nothing that I could have done differently had I been living at home as well.

It was my mom’s battle to fight. Not mine. Not my dad’s. Not my sister’s. And I know we would have each taken it on so that she wouldn’t have to fight it, but we couldn’t. We could be there for her to make her laugh or show her that we needed her to hang around a lot longer or to show her that life keeps moving and she had to be the referee for the rest of her life, between my sister and I (politics + family + different views = mom’s refereeing). We couldn’t take the pain away and as much as we wanted to help, we didn’t have a clue what she was going through.

The fact that my mom can’t eat red jello to this day just shows how powerful a memory can be. The red in the chemo pumped into her each month took away something as small, yet as normal as being able to eat what she wanted, when she wanted. And it’s not that she loved red jello…or red koolaid…or red anything…it’s just that this disease that she didn’t invite into her body by recklessly smoking or drinking or anything else, caused her to reject even simple things, red things, reminders of the taste that the chemo leaves in your mouth or the weakness that it causes.

She was robbed of the small things and the big things.

Things like feeling like a woman, a wife, a mom. Things like her hair…and in case you ever wanted to know (lol), Dennis women have fabulous hair and skin. We don’t even have to really take care of it much more than the once a day wash and rinse and it turns out fabulous…because of my mother’s (and grandmother’s) gene’s.

Yet, my mother had to face the fact that she had to shave her head. She had to lose her hair. But thankfully, her loving husband, my father, was there with her when she discovered that it was coming out, on vacation, and he shaved it for her so that she could wear some amazing wigs that she searched for, researched about, paid top dollar for, and had cut similar to her hair style.

One of my favorite memories of my mom at that time, is that one day she informed us that she had been told that many times when hair grows back after falling out from chemo, it will come back in completely different than before.

And so the prophecy was fulfilled. Her hair came back in kinky curly…the same hair that she had wanted my sister and I to have for our entire childhood (and the perms that just went bad…really bad), she received. I was kind of excited that what she had always wanted for us, she received (and not for payback, I promise :)).

And as always, she made the best of every situation…she was super excited about the curly hair and she swore that she was going to go ‘au naturale’ and not ever dye her hair again.

Six weeks later (and she’ll probably tell me I’m wrong on the length of time), she died her hair back to her ‘natural color’ (aka – the color she really liked at the time). And it was fabulous because I saw a spark in her again because she, then, really felt like she was ‘herself’ again.

Fast forward six months…just six months…and she found out that she had another form of cancer that had been caused by the follow up drugs used to help keep her breast cancer at bay. How hypocritical is that?? We’ll treat your chemo and keep it away by giving you drugs that may cause more cancer in a different part of your body??

So more surgery but luckily no more chemo.

Then regular visits to her doctors to see if everything was gone. Every six months, she kept her Dr. appointments and would sit with baited breath to make sure that the cancer was still absent from her body.

And it stayed like that for a long time!!

Strength.

Fast forward years, and years, and breast cancer walks, and more breast cancer walks and fundraisers, and then more years…and then they found more in the other breast.

This is strength. She defined strength in this moment.

She barely told a soul. She accepted it quickly and quietly and made decisions swiftly and with a confidence that I hadn’t seen the first time. She went in, had the other breast removed; had reconstruction done; recovered; worked through her recovery; held my daughter through her recovery…and showed me what strength is. Showed her granddaughter what strength is. Showed everyone how tough and amazing she really is.

Doing what you need to do, to get things done that you want to get done, for the people that you live for…that’s strength…that’s my mom…a Breast Cancer fighter and survivor.

She gives me strength like no other woman ever could. I hope to set the same kind of example for my daughter one day (except I’ll pray to skip the cancer part :)).

Love you Mom!

Donate to something today…My favorites are:

Chicago Marathon Fundraiser for Camp Sunshine – Rachel N. Jones

Camp Sunshine – Benefitting Family with children with life threatening diseases

Breast Cancer Fundraising – Susan G. Komen

Please note that this post and most of the posts on my website/blog may contain affiliate links. Should you decide to click on one of these ads and purchase something through this link, I will get a commission from it (the pricing is no different for you than going directly to their website)(I do not get commissions from sites where you donate money or things). Not all items recommended on this site are affiliate links. I only recommend items that I feel are amazing because I’ve used and tried them. Thank you for your trust and viewership!

turning a corner

The day I knew I had turned a corner, in the midst of my 2nd divorce,  started out like this:

  • Do some work
  • Scan my Counter Petition and send to my attorney
  • Get an email from my attorney that they had filed the counter petition and emailed it to my soon-to-be-ex’s attorney
  • Get an angry phone call from my soon-to-be-ex letting me know that he was going to cut off the little financial help for the utilities that he has always paid (guessing he read through my counter petition)
  • I got upset and worked up and then my attorney calmed me down
  • My business grew a little that day
  • I was able to feel accomplished that day through my work
  • I didn’t feel angry or sad or anything toward my soon-to-be-ex. I felt apathy toward him.

And that’s the day I knew I had turned a corner. I no longer want to talk about him or what could have been. I no longer missed him.

I’ll still have moments when I miss what could have been for our family but I know that it’s not even worth wishing for because my soon-to-be-ex isn’t the same person that I fell in love with and married.

I’m ready to start my new life and in fact I’m really looking forward to it. I’m no longer ‘faking it till I make it’ and slapping a smile on my face to force myself into a positive mood. And it feels amazing. A load has been taken off of my shoulders.

I know that I’ll have to deal with him for the rest of my life but I no longer want to see him suffer or have regrets or anything….I just want my life to get into more of a routine and clear him out of the picture as much as a judge will allow me. Now that’s not to say that I’m going to lay down and let him walk all over me during the divorce process, but it does mean that I won’t be rattled by him any longer. Should he decide to make poor choices, it will only affect him and I will continue to rock it in life.

I’ve never been so scared about my next chapter but thrilled and excited all at the same time. So many things are on the horizon for me…so many exciting, inspiring, challenging, hopeful things that I have to look forward to and he was dumb enough to throw me to the side…but because he did that, I was forced to push and push and push myself further than I ever thought I could go.

The best part about the whole thing is that I’m calm…oddly, weirdly, calm. I have to see this man almost six days a week because he works where my kids play hockey, and I’m not nervous anymore. I walked into the rink recently with zero butterflies, no nerves, no nausea, and with my head held high because it’s there, not because I faked it. And it was marvelous. I honestly haven’t felt that for years because I would even dread seeing my sons’ father at the rink. (Yes, I’m a glutton for punishment – both of my ex’s play hockey where my kids play and one even works there – don’t repeat my mistakes…just don’t.)

The calm I feel is equivalent to the calm I felt after each c-section when the pain killers kicked in. It’s glorious.

The other person that I need to thank for this sense of calm, is my mother. She recently went to a bible study, that clearly I need to be going to, and she shared some of the most poignant messages that I needed to hear:

  • When you’re in circumstances that you can’t control and you don’t know the answer to the issues, look up.
  • “I know the Lord is speaking to me when what I hear and am led to do cannot be done without his assistance, protection and guidance. He only speaks what brings glory to himself!” ~Bishop Kenneth Ulmer
  • God doesn’t punish you or condemn you…he will always love you no matter how much you screw up.
  • God offers solutions not guilt. He encourages, not humiliates.
  • “When I finally do the thing He has been nudging me to do, whether it’s letting something or someone go, or taking a step toward the unknown, there is a deep calm in my soul.” ~Kathy Troccoli

And I have experienced that deep calm. And it’s calming.

I know I used the word (or form of) calm twice in two sentences but there is no more perfect word than that.

Everyone experiences that calm at different points in the divorce process. I experienced it with my ex-husband two years after the divorce was final…with my soon-to-be-ex – I only had to wait a few months after he moved out.

I’m oddly proud of myself and sad at the same time. Sad only because it means it’s really over…at least for me…he has lost me forever. BUT I’m proud of myself because I never thought I’d get to this point in my relationship with ‘me’.

I’m really looking forward to what the future holds for me in the respect of a personal life/dating life and my career…which will likely be on my terms through my own business.

How cool is that?? I got exactly what I always wanted, minus the husband, for my kids and myself. I’ll be able to provide for them and fulfill dreams of supporting myself and them COMPLETELY on my own.

But I have to admit – it is as scary as HE double hockey sticks and back.

I don’t know why I’m where I’m at in my life and career but I can’t deny the doors that God has opened for me. So I’m going to stop fighting the scary stuff and conquer life!

So excited to start a new month tomorrow!

Remember – If it’s too hard to focus on the fact that the glass is half full, focus on the fact that you can refill the glass tomorrow!

Please note that this post and most of the posts on my website/blog may contain affiliate links. Should you decide to click on one of these ads and purchase something through this link, I will get a commission from it (the pricing is no different for you than going directly to their website)(I do not get commissions from sites where you donate money or things). Not all items recommended on this site are affiliate links. I only recommend items that I feel are amazing because I’ve used and tried them. Thank you for your trust and viewership!

11 reasons why i’m loving being a single mom

I absolutely hate the situation that I’m in but there’s not much I can do about it. My husband acted like a child and ran off because the only other option meant that he would’ve had to commit to hard work, which he seems to be allergic to. Even his father knew he could never commit to anything long term – I wish that had sunk in for me years ago when he told me what his dad had said…but, shoulda, coulda, woulda.

So, all I can do is make the best of the situation that I’m in.

Get ready for a really long sentence…

There are days that are really tough, more like exhausting, being a single mom to three little mini-me’s. My biggest struggles include getting my own stuff done including work and drink my coffee before it gets cold, when I have to spend 20 minutes convincing them to get out of bed, drive them to hockey six days a week and karate two days a week, listen to the little redhead throw temper tantrums when I won’t let her crawl back into the womb when I’m trying to make dinner for four people and make lunches at the same time and won’t hold her, convincing my oldest that he should actually try to get his homework done on his own without copying it from his friends on the bus, return calls to the school clinic because my oldest (fill in the blank because they see him on a weekly basis for something this year and they already know how dramatic he is), calm my youngest son’s temper when something has really frustrated him, fold and put away everyone’s clothes, change sheets on everyone’s bed, pay bills, clean the house, listen to my kids friends tell me that I need to clean my car (whatever dude – maybe I do that on purpose to minimize how often I have more than my three in the car 🙂 jk), and then actually try to have a personal, adult life in the extra five minutes before I get some sleep…all on my own, without an ounce of care from my soon-to-be-ex as to what he’s done to me emotionally or financially. He’s never offered any help with anything…hasn’t even offered to mow my lawn or even bring the key back to me for our lawnmower. Glad he is happy because that’s what’s important, right?? Not doing the right thing…nope, I’ve learned that he’s incapable of doing that.

And yes, my boys father does have them a little less than half of the time, but those are the days that I am able to get the grocery shopping done and other errands that really are no fun to begin with, let alone add three kids to the trip.

BUT…

Even with all of that said, I’ve had some REALLY great moments in the past couple of months – things that have made my upcoming divorce tolerable. I’ve lived so much ‘life’ in the past four months and it’s all shown me just how much I really have to be thankful for.

So here are 11 reasons why I’m loving being a single mom:

1. I’ve been able to really appreciate how awesome my kids are because I have all of my attention focused just on my kids and not an overly dramatic grown child.

My oldest has really shown me how much he is able to step up to the plate. Tonight he even wrote out seven post it notes, that he stuck to his closet door, giving himself a checklist of things to do in the morning including “help mom with the little red-head.” And he told me that he didn’t want me to set any alarms, that he was going to wake up with his alarm and then wake me up after he got a few things done so that I can sleep longer. #luckymom

2. I’ve never laughed so hard at the kids making each other laugh. AND, I’ve realized how funny they really are. We have been able to quote movies together, be silly, joke together, and playfully tease each other all without hearing my soon-to-be-ex complain that he thought that they were being disrespectful to me and him.

3. I’ve accepted that there is no norm anymore so it’s allowed me to be more flexible with our free time. I’ve stopped planning ‘stuff’ to fill our free time together and allowed the kids to help guide the day based on compromise between everyone’s wishes not just the adults wants and needs.

4. I’ve learned how to appreciate the extra five minutes I have every day and just sit and relax…and not do anything. I even allowed myself to take a nap when my little girl did this past weekend and it was glorious! I make the most of every minute, almost every day, and it’s been nice to just relax and do nothing when I have a little bit of free time, without feeling guilty.

5. My friendships have really grown. I’ve learned to be more honest with how I’m really feeling. My life isn’t ‘picture perfect’ and friendships have grown deeper because they’ve felt more comfortable ‘laying it all out there’ because, as you’ve read, I haven’t shied away from ‘going deep’.

6. My house is tidy almost all of the time…for the first time in 3.5 years! It’s so nice to have empty countertops again every night when I go to bed! I no longer have to pick up after a sloppy, grown man-baby and I get to run the house like I want!

7. I’ve had to perfect my organizational skills and scheduling skills and I love these two types of tasks so I’ve really enjoyed this. I have no choice but to be on-point with my schedule and the kids so I’ve had fun using my calendar app and my dry-erase calendar board. (I know – lame – but I love it!)

8. I get to watch as much reality TV as I want when I have time. This is simply glorious and probably one of my favorite things.

9. I don’t have to get anyone’s ok on anything any longer. I get to choose the restaurant, I get to select the meals for the week, I decide what movie is rented…all me.

10. I’m not dependent on anyone’s schedule any longer (other than the kids, obviously). I don’t have to ok plans for the weekend anymore…I get to just say yes, without hearing someone whine that they only want to work on a Jeep that was a complete waste of money.

11. I have a feeling of peace and calm when I go to bed every night, in the middle of my bed. My days are far from perfect, but I have quickly learned that my happiness is all on me…if I want to laugh then I need to find a way to make myself laugh, if I want to complete a project then I have to get my behind in gear to do it…it’s all on me now and I’ve found the drive within me because I had no other choice. And I amaze myself each day…and I’m loving it.

Change isn’t easy for anyone, I don’t care who you are. It’s how you deal with it that makes all the difference in the world. If you are faced with the daunting world of divorce or single-parenthood, just take each minute as it comes. I wouldn’t even recommend taking on the day, in the beginning…focus on the minutes first then graduate to getting to lunch, then getting to dinner and before you know it, each day will be a joy and each week won’t be as tough as it used to be. If you have a rough day, guess what?? You get to start fresh the next day and try it again. And the kids will see your strength – I promise.

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