Thursday, December 29, 2011


I love New Years each year; it always feels like a new beginning, an inspiration to start something new and break out of the everyday. I tend to get very restless with monotony, sometimes I am so overambitious to be new and different and exciting that I take on too much and regret it later. But I love the chaos of life, the challenges that come with each day, and pushing myself to new levels. I really thought I would hate getting older, but it turns out that each year brings new enlightenment for me and the chance to broaden my horizons even more than I ever thought possible.

I just re-read last year's goals, to see how close I came to achieving them. I kept up with my health and fitness program all year, although my goal for that had to change about mid-year when I realized I was developing an unhealthy obsession. My new goal was to be able to take care of myself, work for my goals, all while keeping a healthy balance. It's ok to enjoy junk food sometimes, and it's not ok to push myself to extremes just to achieve "a look"....because I've realized that no matter how well I do, I will never be happy or feel like I'm "perfect". Obviously I managed to break through my fears of remarriage, because here I am Mrs. Wonderful, ring on my finger. Although the year started with me being very fearful of wedding planning, the fears subsided and I was fine until Mr. W moved in, and it all kicked in again worse than before. But with the help of a therapist it all turned out just fine, and the reality of my situation became crystal clear and the fears disappeared again. As far as my ex-nothing has changed, but not without a sincere effort on my part. I feel that as long as he is insecure, nothing will change. I hate it for my kids because I see his insecurity being passed onto my son, but I can only control myself, and that has been a very tough realization. I truly want nothing but happiness for him because that is what is best for my kids. I wish he could find it.

So this year, here are my goals:

1-For my intentions to become actions.

I have the grandest, most sincerely heartfelt intentions to do great things for people. For friends, for family, for strangers, for neighbors, for those in need. I have a bleeding heart to a fault. I have ideas to let the people around me know they are loved, to fundraise for charity, to do all sorts of things but for some reason I have the hardest time following through and end up doing something half-ass or nothing at all. My husband just had his 30th birthday recently and while I normally would have thrown something together at the last minute, I tried to follow through with every idea that I had, and it turned into something beautiful that made him feel truly loved. I want to continue that trend not only with my husband but my kids. I also want to somehow get involved in a charity that doesn't just involve running a 5K or making a monetary donation.

2-Avoid unnecessary negativity.

Growing older and experiencing great drama in my friendships has been a huge eye opener for me. I'm 35 years old, I have 3 kids, a business, a husband and myself to look after. I do not have time for drama. Giving into thinking about or listening to any of it is just such a waste of our valuable time, and I absolutely refuse to participate.

The most valuable lesson that I have learned in the past year or two is that people and their opinions and actions only exist if I let them into my headspace. It's so simple...just stop caring about what people think and suddenly, it doesn't matter. As Coco Chanel said
“I don't care what you think about me. I don't think about you at all.”

I won't read about drama. I won't talk about drama. I won't participate in drama. I refuse to let it exist here. My world is what I make it: it is my family, my business, my closest friends, laughter, music, fitness, and anything else that makes me feel happy, not angry or upset. This year, my happiness will be under my own control, no one else's...and if anyone tries to bring any negativity or unnecessary drama into that space, they will be swiftly escorted out.

Don't get me wrong. I will be here for my closest friends and family through their hard times, and I will be supportive and a listening ear. But if that is all that is being brought to me in a relationship, you will be hearing less and less from me. I get one life, and I'm not letting anyone make a second of it less than wonderful. If only I had acquired this knowledge when I was younger...but alas, youth is wasted on the young :)


I am a very reactionary person. I see a problem, and I go to extremes to fix it. It is very against my nature to take baby steps in any situation. I'm impatient that way. For example, after the holidays, I felt chubby from eating too much junk. My immediate reaction is to do something extreme...fasting! Two a days! Jog 5 miles! No carbs for a week! And it has led to some pretty serious situations for me where I felt unhealthy and sad and way too hard on myself. Victories feel shallow because I can't stop pushing myself. I do understand that these are not necessarily bad qualities to have...the most successful people push themselves and are never satisfied. But I don't want success at the price of my happiness, so I have to learn balance. I will push myself as far as I can until it's not fun, at which point I will reevaluate or back off.

The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it. -Henry David Thoreau


Let me just be honest here. Feelings make me feel icky. I don't like to talk about my feelings, I don't like other people talking about their feelings. If you have ever witnessed me crying, it's because I was either drunk or things were REALLY bad, because crying makes my skin crawl. My comfort zone is laughing about things, venting about problems, and not really talking about anything in between. I'm not totally proud of this but it is what it is. I hate sap.

But this summer when I was going through a major crisis that almost resulted in a nervous breakdown, my therapist kind of told me to snap the hell out of it (which I so appreciated) and to start focusing my thoughts on the good, not the bad. To start seeing life through a positive set of glasses. I had made up my mind about people in my life, and therefore, every action they made was seen by me as proof that I was right. Once I told myself a different story, suddenly, their actions took on new meanings. It was beautiful, and I've never been happier. But again... So uncomfortable with the sap, so I trailed off. So my resolution this year is to force myself to be sappy, privately, and to write my gratitude down on a daily basis, to keep my perspective positive and to view everything through a positive light.

5-To document my growing children

My kids are 13, almost 9, and 5 years old now. When my youngest baby was born, I started my very first personal blog, with the intention of printing it out into a book each year for them to have as adults. When their Dad and I split, and then my Dad had his brain tumor surgery, I just couldn't make myself write there anymore. I was in a dark place and started this blog instead. But my kids still love to find that blog and read the stories about the 1 year old who got into Mommy's brand new eyeliner and painted the walls and her face with it, and the pictures to accompany. Now with iphone technology, I take pictures of our lives every single day. So I went back to that blog, re-vamped it, and started writing again. This year, my goal is to write in it at least once a week, to keep updated on all the funny things they say and the accomplishments of their lives.

It was nice and somewhat sad to read back to my early entries in that blog and see how different my life is. I was the mother of a 4 month old baby who had just found out, 4.5 months before, that my husband had been cheating on me my entire pregnancy: longer. The tone of the writing is apparent to me: the saddest girl in the world, trying to plant a smile on her face, hold her head up, and tell herself it would all be ok. Reading my new entries after reading the old ones just makes me's just so is so complete and *right*.

Which is exactly why each new year excites me. Every year just seems to get better and better, and if things are this great now, imagine what the future may hold!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2011 in Review, and a look ahead

It's no secret that 2011 was a banner year for me. I knew last year, when I made my 2011 resolutions, that my year would be full of good things. I was well on my way already to meeting my fitness and health goals. I was a few weeks away from trying on a wedding dress and already in the process of planning a wedding. The kids were thriving and thrilled about the wedding and their new soon-to-be-stepfather.

I worked with a therapist to get past my fears of getting married again and having a second wedding. I worked with Mr. Wonderful on becoming not only co-habitants but also co-parents of three kids in a home where they had lived since birth.

For the first half of the year, Mr. Wonderful and I continued to live apart as we both felt it was extremely important for our children to transition as slowly as possible. I also wanted to relish my free time in my own house a little bit, as I was accustomed to having an entire closet and bedroom to myself, and loved having his apartment as a "kid-free retreat" on the nights they were away. Finally, 2 months before the wedding, he began to move his things over slowly, and finally began sleeping here every night. This ended up being a bigger transition than getting married was. I felt twitchy about having so many new things here, making room, and having a man living in the house again after priding myself on my independence for so long.

The first half of the year also brought a complete remodel of our house, which was so exciting and so needed on many levels. This is the house that my ex husband and I bought together, and although he didn't live here long, he did live here. Mr. Wonderful felt that aside from this old 1973 home never having any updates, he wanted to make it his own; so he hired a contractor and we made it completely over, from the ceiling to the floor, even adding two living spaces. I have gone from tolerating my home to absolutely loving it, every square inch. We have a space surrounding us that we designed together, from the paint colors to the flooring, and we have room to stretch out and have our own little "kid-free retreat", right here. Because he added the additional living space, he kept all of his apartment furniture, and we moved it all into our new media room, which ends up being where we spend every evening together after the kids go to bed.

In June we decided to take a family vacation to Cancun, Mexico, sort of on a whim. We spent a week together, snorkeling in the beautiful clear Caribbean water with our babies. We sipped pina coladas under straw huts while the kids jumped the waves together in the ocean. It was a truly magical week and one I don't think we'll ever forget, and would like to repeat each year.

Finally, in September, the entire family headed out to San Francisco, in what proved to be the most perfect 10 days of my life. We showed the kids a beautiful, historic city that we loved, we partied with our parents and siblings, and finally stood together on a second story balcony with all of them watching, with the fog-covered Golden Gate bridge just behind us, and made our life-long commitment to be together and love each other until death do us part. A week-long honeymoon exploring the San Francisco area together followed, and we headed home to celebrate with all the friends and family who watched our entire relationship unfold over the past two years.

October brought stress as Mr. Wonderful's father had a stroke at the same time that we found out that my father's brain tumor had begun to grow again. They both had several surgeries the same week. Both made it through wonderfully and are doing very well at this point.

In November, Mr. Wonderful and I decided it was time for he and I to have our own baby: a fur-baby :) We found the perfect Golden Retriever puppy for our family, and we brought her home and have been madly in love with her ever since. This is likely the closest Mr. W and I will ever get to having our own child, and it has been such a great experience. It has united our family in a way, our puppy Cali (short for California) is a piece of the family that he never had to share with my ex and something that makes our family unique to this new formation.

And recently, our first Christmas with Mr. Wonderful living here in the house. We threw out the fake tree and all my old decorations that I've had for years, and decided to start completely over like we did with the house, so that he would feel included. We found a gorgeous tree, a real one, and he designed a beautiful light display for our house and yard that he was really proud of.

It's funny to go back and read about the beginning of the year. It's amazing how much things can change in such a short period of time. It feels like we've been married for years and this is how it's always been. I remember the kids begging Mr. W to stay over and asking me constantly when he would move in, and now he takes them to school in the mornings. Life is good; it's nice to have nothing HUGE on the horizon, just everyday life and the little challenges that each day brings. Mr. W and I are happy, and always striving towards the best relationship possible and making each other happy. He blows me away with his commitment to me on a daily basis. I keep expecting him to give up on me; to proclaim me too high maintenance, but instead he evaluates my needs and comes up with the best way to meet them. Every single time. 2 1/2 years after meeting him, I still feel like the luckiest girl on the planet.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Wedding-Part 2

So there I was, on the other side of the door, in a foul mood from having to share my wedding with strangers and the cold weather, and irritated at myself for not being able to feel a thing.

I put my hand on the door, opened it, felt the cold air on my face, heard "the song" playing, turned and saw my entire family, my children, Mr. Wonderful's family, all watching me, and I burst into tears. I was finally overcome with the emotions I should be feeling. I realized I couldn't see Mr. Wonderful, and every step from that realization to the altar was a desperate one, trying to get myself to the man I love and have my comfort and my joy and make him my husband.

I don't think I heard two words of the ceremony. I was completely in tune with him, I was watching him, watching him go through the emotions and try to hold it together. I handed my flowers to my daughter and saw for the first time my Dad on the computer screen via Skype, which was sitting in a chair next to my son. Yet another jolt of emotion.

Mr. Wonderful read his vows first. It was the only part of the ceremony I cared about, and he absolutely blew me away. He read off his promises one by one- to respect me, to protect me and the kids, to make me feel beautiful, that his love will only grow, to never abandon me and the kids....and then he read his promise to never betray me and to always be honest and loyal, and I totally lost it again. This one. The promise that had been made before yet was broken. The broken promise I thought would stop me from ever being here again, in this spot, marrying anyone. The one that un-did all the other promises. Yet looking into his eyes and knowing him...I knew Mr. Wonderful meant it and did not take it lightly. I knew it like I had never known anything before.

After he finished, it was my turn. I read through the vows, hoping to make the same impact on him that he made on me. I gave my promises to him one by one, opening myself up like I haven't since my divorce, and giving myself to him completely. It was beautiful.

During the entire ceremony I could hear our families crying. I was facing mine and could feel exactly what they were feeling. This family has watched me struggle and suffer and crawl through the trenches of pain and obstacles. They watched my former husband treat me poorly, then watched me take him back and be treated poorly again. They watched me find the confidence to finally leave him. They watched me cry and scream and fail at single motherhood, and then they watched as I was hit with the added blow of my father's brain tumor, and to try to get through all that came after, alone. They all at one point had tried to reassure me that everything would someday be ok, and here we all were...even my Dad, in a sense, and it was all ok. Better than ok. Not a happy ending, per say, but a happy beginning.

It was then time to face the children, and Mr. Wonderful took vows to them. He promised to take them as his own children, to protect them and guide and support them, and respect them all his life. They were so funny sitting there, trying so hard to be cool and not smile, but all three of them just couldn't contain it. They looked up at their new stepfather who has been a father to them for at least the past year already, and they were absolutely beaming from the inside out. My youngest even told me later she was about to cry, but not because she was sad, because she was so happy.

The minister announced us as husband and wife, we kissed and cried some more, and were then presented to our families with our united name. We literally danced down the aisle together to "You Make my Dreams Come True" by Hall and Oates, a song from a scene we loved in 500 Days of of our first dates.

Back inside and alone, I just remember wrapping myself up in his arms with relief. I was handed more wine and it was all fun and happiness from there. We took some pictures together with the photographer, which I just got can see the relief and happiness in both of our faces. We were just so damn happy. It felt as though everything was just as it should be, like it had all been leading up to this, from the time I met him up until that day and had come together as the universe had intended.

We dined with our families, listened to each and every one of them give a heartfelt speech, including each of our three kids. My favorite was my 4 year old "Sometimes, my mommy is rude but she's really lovable. And [Mr. Wonderful] is really cute and he tickles me and makes hearts on my back so I can go to sleep. So, cheers!"

My cute husband even went over to his laptop and requested to be my husband on Facebook. So even that night, it was FBO. Which we all know means it's real.

After dinner, a limo picked us up, and we went over to a private room at a karaoke bar with my brother, his wife, Mr. W's two brothers, and the photographer. Drunken singing and dancing on coffee tables ensued, and fabulous times were had by all.

The kids left with my mom and we spent the next week alone in San Fran for our honeymoon. There was much staring at rings and giggling and calling me his wife and him my husband. But mostly, it was just we always are, enjoying our travels and especially each other. What we do best.


Mrs. Wonderful

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Wedding-Part 1

I am home, I am exhausted, but I am HAPPY.

The wedding was, well, everything I thought it would be and nothing I thought it would be.

We arrived on Thursday to San Francisco, three kids in tow. The idea was to have a short family vacation together while simultaneously tying up loose ends that needed to be done in SF. Things got off to a bit of a rough start. But would it be our wedding if we didn't have to WORK for what we wanted??? This is my life's theme!!!

First of all, we arrived to the airport at 6 am with three tired kids, and tried to check in under Mr. Wonderful's name, which didn't work. When we got up to a ticket agent, they informed us that American Airlines had screwed up and while they had *reserved* his ticket, they didn't actually *ticket* him. (Reminds me of the old Seinfeld episode - "so you know how to *TAKE* the reservation, you just don't know how to *HOLD* the reservation") After 30 minutes of the agent being on the phone with whoever, they sent the kids and I on through security, with the hopes that he would have a ticket by the time the plane left, but really more likely we'd be meeting up with him later in San Fran. Not a great plan considering we had an appointment to get our marriage license at SF City Hall at 1pm.

So I get through the security line and the TSA agent checking passports decides that the picture on my passport, the passport I have used 15+ times since I got it years ago, doesn't look real and makes me step aside with the kids while she calls her supervisor. They test it, they lecture me on the picture, and finally let me and the kids through. Have you ever been through airport security with three little kids? Alone? Everyone take your shoes off, put your Kindles, nanos, phones, laptops into the bin, your carryons on the belt, your jackets off, and don't lose your ticket and passports in the meantime. Walk through and then put it all back together and on again. "MOMMY I CAN'T GET MY SHOES ON! MOMMY WHERE IS MY JACKET! MOMMY I LOST MY PASSPORT!" I was so stressed about getting them all through that I barely noticed when the same TSA supervisor is standing in front of me asking if "this is your bag". Oh, yes, it is my bag. The one I stuffed with everything important to the wedding so if they lost our large bags we'd be ok- the gifts for the kids, the sand ceremony, the wedding rings. He pulls me over to the x-ray screen and the first thing I see when I look up-a pocketknife. The engraved pocketknife we chose to give our son for the wedding, with his name and the date, wrapped in a box with a bow. The one I told my mom a hundred times to PLEASE not forget to put in her suitcase on the way back so it wasn't taken away. I saw it on the screen and I realized that a) I was probably in big trouble and b) that pocketknife was not going to make it to the wedding, and that was huge part of the ceremony.

Let me tell you a little something about me. I am not one of those graceful people who handles stress well. And when you add in that an entire airport of people are looking at me and Mr. W is not there to bring me down to earth and my anxiety over him not making it is through the roof, well, it wasn't pretty. I freaked out, began to cry, began to hypervenilate. My poor 12 year old son had to try and calm me down. I was trying to explain to the TSA agent "My fiance...they didn't have a ticket....that's a wedding gift...for my son...for OUR it can't...getting married this weekend...." A. Mess.

He had mercy on me, attempted to calm me down. Asked my son to watch the other two kids on the other side of security with their bags, while I went back to baggage check-in and could just pay to check the bag.

I am escorted by the agent back through security to the ticket line, where I see that Mr. Wonderful is STILL waiting on a ticket, with less than 30 minutes to take-off. I wait in line, get up to the counter, *try* to tearfully explain to the ticketing agent as well as Mr. W at the same time why I need to check my bag. The agent shakes his head at me, says it's too close to take-off and for security purposes, they can't check my bag. I am beyond flustered, so Mr. W steps over and explains to the agent who has now called over HIS supervisor, the situation...what the pocketknife is for and why we need it to get to SF. To which we are met with something like "9-11 was 10 years ago this weekend and we really don't care".


So I have no choice but to race over to the AirMail station, stuff the gift tearfully into a bag, fill out the form (wrong, I later found out), and send it home.

Oh and did I mention, that as I am pulling the gift out of the carry-on, I see that one of the bags of sand for our sand ceremony has busted, and there is pink sand ALL. THROUGH. THE. SUITCASE.

I race back through security, shoes off, jacket off, laptop out, cel phone out. I look behind me and there is Mr. W doing the same. He catches up to me just as I'm putting my shoes back on and says "They're holding the plane door for us but we have to HURRY". I see the kids still sitting together on the other side of security. We may actually pull this off.

And then, like a bad deja vu dream, a TSA agent is AGAIN standing in front of me, asking if this is my bag. GOD WHAT NOW.

"Ma'am, there is some sort of substance all through your bag. We're gonna need to test it for explosives." I show her the vase, the bags of sand, explain to her it's SAND for a SAND ceremony and those are my three kids right there waiting for me and I'm getting married and WE CANNOT MISS THIS PLANE because WE HAVE A MARRIAGE LICENSE TO GET. She cares not, mentions 9-11 again. And I am forced to sit and wait while they perform the test.

By the time the testing is done, it is our scheduled departure time. We grab the kids. Run to the plane. Scramble for our boarding passes. Lectured by the agents at the gate. Greeted coldly by the flight attendants at the plane. Stared at furiously by the passengers as we make our way to our seats, which have been occupied be people who thought they had lucked out and could spread out. Even more pissed that they are being occupied by children.

Fuck 'em all, we made the flight, albeit without a gift for our child, and are on our way to San Francisco. No turning back now.

When we got there, we took the train from the airport and walked from the BART station to our hotel, which was all uphill. 3 kids + 2 huge suitcases + 3 carryons. Up SF hills. What a freaking joke.

We also made a day 1 mistake of walking the kids to City Hall, which was just a 15 minute walk from our hotel. Through TENDERLOIN. (beginners mistake). Luckily it was the middle of the day. We literally stepped over crackheads who were sprawled out in the middle of the sidewalk. At first I just thought "Oh, San Francisco, ha ha" and then the neighborhood got rougher, and rougher, and I became VERY aware of my designer bag and diamond ring and my kids who were dressed up more than usual for the trip in boots and hats and cute jackets. Aside from the sprawled out crackheads we passed people smoking marijuana, drug deals, lunatics ranting at random people, and human feces on the ground. At one point I heard a woman say, as she walked us walk by, "You guys are in the wrooong neighborhood". My daughter still asks me why I said to Mr. W "OH THANK GOD, NECKTIES" when we reached the City Hall area.

My mom and her husband met us there, where we scarfed lunch and had the first big moment of our trip...filling out the forms, taking our oath, seeing my new last name officially in print.

The next couple of days are a blur of "MOMMY WHEN ARE WE GONNA....WHERE ARE WE GONNA...WHY ARE WE GONNA....BUY ME ____! BUY ME ___!" The kids did have a great time, but three kids in the city using public transportation? Not exactly relaxing. But they loved the cable cars, loved Ghiradelli, loved Fisherman's Wharf and the sea lions, loved Sausalito and the Golden Gate bridge. We ate good food overlooking the bay, hunted for crabs under rocks, got them a primo seat on the Powell-Hyde cable car where they could hang on to the side standing up. There was actually minimal complaining, and the most priceless moment was when we stepped onto the pier in Fisherman's Wharf and my son saw Alcatraz for the first time, and exclaimed "I can't believe I'm really here!!"

Friday was a quick rehearsal and the first time I met my wedding planner and saw the wedding venue. The kids were restless and out of control through the rehearsal and I warned them "Guys, you are not going to be able to act like this during the ceremony. You will have to be still and quiet, like you're in church" to which my middle child exclaimed, in front of the minister, "MOM, that's why we don't GO to church!"

Friday night we gathered the entire family together, who had all come to town for the wedding, and had an amazing dinner at one of mine and Mr. W's favorite San Fran restaurants, Cha Cha Cha's. The sangria and tapas were aplenty. My sister-in-law presented me with a gift that she had coordinated with all of my friends, whom I was missing terribly and very sad they couldn't be there for my big day. It was an amazing night, happy tears were shed. I had been so distracted by the family vacation that it was easy to forget why we were there, and dinner was a great reminder.

The next morning I woke up early with the girls, my mom, and my future mother in law. I kissed Mr. Wonderful goodbye as my fiance for the last time. He was off to tour Alcatraz with the men and our son, the girls and I headed out to get our nails done near the wedding location.

After nails, the grandmothers took the girls into town for lunch, and I headed to the spa. I dropped them off in town and was alone in the cab, for the first time on the trip. The emotions hit me, hard, as I realized that NOW was the moment I had been waiting for for the past year. The planning and details and rehearsing and worrying was over now, it's all about us from here out.

I went into the spa with knots in my neck and back, stress knots I get from time to time. They were worse than they had been in years. My masseuse was amazing, magical, and by the time she finished I felt light as a feather. My facial was equally as perfect. I lunched alone in the spa, quietly reflecting on my life and how I got here.

I walked back to the room (located in the same place as the spa, and the location of the wedding ceremony and dinner). I took it all in, feeling relaxed and happy and ready. I found myself annoyed at the time it was taking me to get myself ready. I rushed through the details I thought would be so hair, my makeup...I had searched for the perfect fake eyelashes to wear for the wedding, and didn't have the patience to get them on and decided not to mess with them. I just wanted to get married.

Family members, including the girls and my mom, slowly began arriving. The photographer was taking my picture. I began to feel the stress and no matter what I did, it would not subside. I got a phone call from Mr. W, who was ready and waiting at the ceremony site, saying that there was a problem and the hotel had booked a reception right next door to our wedding, and there would be people on the balcony with us while we got married. He was trying to handle it but I was furious. The weather had become cold and windy, and the venue was trying to talk us into moving indoors. It felt like it was all falling apart.

The photographer had the men walk over to the hotel room for our first photos. I was ready and was trying to let everything roll off my back. She arranged a "first look" photo, where he waited for me and I "snuck up" behind him for my big wedding dress reveal. I felt the tears but didn't let the emotion come yet. It was a nice moment, and we were both relieved to be with each other again. Through all stress and trials, we are each other's rocks, and everything felt ok again.

Photos went on and on, with family and then just us and the kids, Mr. W was getting more stressed about the time. We sent everyone on to the ceremony site to be seated, and we walked back with the photographer. I could see the other party going on upstairs, albeit indoors now and not on our balcony where we were getting married, and I was truthfully very annoyed.

We walked upstairs together, where the members of the other party were all standing, all staring at me. I glared at them. I admit it. They were ruining my moment. Luckily before I could get nasty, I was swept away by the wedding planner and ushered into a kitchen, where I would be sequestered until the ceremony began.

I was joined there by my sister in law. We fixed my hair, made sure my makeup was ok. I was trying to push myself from annoyed to happy. Instead, I was beginning to feel numb. My sister-in-law was trying her best to help me get back to happy, telling me to look around, take it all in. I tried, I really did. I was totally and completely numb. I was standing in a kitchen, someone had just handed me a glass of wine, and my wedding planner was asking me if I was ready. She left to begin the music and I was alone. "FEEL SOMETHING!" I urged myself. Maybe if I chug the wine.

Nope. Nothing.

She came back, pulled me to the door where I would make my entrance, I could see my youngest out through the window, dropping her petals on the ground with a shy smile. "Cute", I thought. But it was like watching tv. I still felt nothing. The wedding planner tells me she's going out to cue my music, and that as soon as I'm ready, to open the door and come out, and she will start it. I stand there, for I don't know how long, it must have been long because later Mr. W told me he was starting to worry that I had taken off.

And then, I put my hand on the door, and opened it up, still urging myself to FEEL, stepped onto the porch, and it was as if I had walked into another world.

(Part 2 coming soon!)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I was driving home from an evening out alone tonight, fully refreshed and relaxed after what I can only describe as being a very stressful, harrowing few weeks. Making last minute decisions on menus and wine and picking up supplies and clothing and getting things sky high paperwork for the three kids starting school again. I've also had to get used to waking up at 6:30am again and making sure everyone is dressed, fed, and at one of their three schools. Soccer has started, dance has started, EVERYTHING HAS STARTED.

But tonight I did what I used to do best, I took myself out on a date. I needed a break. I needed not to hear people speaking to me for awhile, asking me questions, needing of me. I needed not to be running around getting things ready, finished, bought, packed, signed.

So it was with a clear head as I was driving home alone that I had the most overwhelming feeling of peace. I felt totally settled. I thought about my trainwreck of a life, just a few short years ago. Rock freaking bottom, the deepest levels ever imaginable.

And yet I met this man. And I never thought it would work. I never thought I could trust again. I never thought anyone would want this baggage, this situation. I had nothing left to give. And he loved me too, and for some reason it all worked, and I have a healthy, authentic, growing relationship for the first time in my life, and now we are 11 days away from marriage.

My children recovered, from it all. From their father moving out, to virtually losing their grandfather...they are thriving, they are happy, they love Mr. Wonderful, they even seem to still love me.

My business is the best it has ever been. I am working the exact amount I want, and making enough to be comfortable. I have time for my family, my future husband, my friends, and I am doing well.

My circle of friends is a small one, but a sacred, solid ring of trust. All toxicity has been alleviated. Last week I lost two friends (sisters) that I have had since I was a child, and after initially being very upset, I feel so relieved now. It was meant to be. I have learned to keep negativity, immaturity, and obsessiveness away from me. I have enough drama with my daughters. Grown people around me should bring support, encouragement, honesty and trustworthiness. Period.

I'm in total control of my body for the first time in my adult life. I keep myself healthy and strong, I have pushed myself to levels that I never thought I could reach, and on my wedding day I can say I have the body I have always wanted. I feel amazing, rested, and healthy.

My home has been transformed into a place I love, that I'm proud to bring guests to, that brings me great joy everyday.

I even sat with my father last weekend and had what is essentially the first two sided conversation we have had in 2 1/2 years. He has been unable to speak and suddenly is making great strides in his speech, and he was TALKING to us. You don't realize how vital speech and communication is to a relationship until it is taken away. Hearing his voice and his opinions and his jokes again after all this time...unbelievably beautiful.

I walked through the darkness for so long, blind, not knowing if I would ever find light. And now it shines so brightly and beautifully on me that I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I am not naive enough to think that more hard times won't be ahead. But with this struggle came strength and perspective that I would not have found otherwise, necessary to face anything. ANYTHING.

In the meantime I will bask in the glory of this awesome light that is shining on me right now. I am surrounded by love, by the exact people I want near me, doing exactly what I want to be doing.

And I will not deny myself that I had a hand in it. I made a lot of this happen through faith, hard work, and determination.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

One month

So much to write about, as always, so little time.

First of all, if you were to ask me ANY year what month I despise the most, it is August. Poor little August, the last month before my favorite season and time of year. August brings endless paperwork and doctors visits and school supply trips and meet the teacher, times three kids. Add in the beginning of sports season, two soccer practices beginning and uniforms to be bought, a physical due for the oldest who is beginning athletics in middle school. School clothes shopping, haircuts, last weekday sleepovers with friends, last mornings of sleeping in, last trips to the pool.

So there's the mom perspective.

On another hand, August do-or-die time for my business. It's the last chance to get everything in order, get supplies, get caught up, make decisions, set a schedule before the busiest time of year begins for me.

So there's the business owner perspective. Which is usually where it is, and isn't that enough??

Then this year, I did something SUPER FUN and decided I could handle throwing a wedding right into the mix of all that. So yeah, that has been....interesting.


In all seriousness, tomorrow marks 1 month til our wedding day in San Francisco, and we leave a month from yesterday. A month until what feels like the longest engagement of all time (only a year) is over. A month until my last name changes and the first time I will ever have a different last name from my kids. A month til I once again can claim a husband, can file taxes and check boxes as "married". A month til I once again commit myself til death do us part. This time, I know we *both* mean it.

I have absolutely no regrets. No fears. I am at total peace and other than wondering how it will all get done, I'm so happy that the day is finally arriving.

Even after spending the morning with my best friend finalizing her divorce, in the same courthouse and courtroom where I finalized my divorce so long ago, shaking from tears at the pain of it all, all over again. That experience traumatized me so deeply. I would rather die than stand up there before that smug judge all over again, crying my heart out and shaking uncontrollably as I pronounce to the legal system that my marriage is dead, and that it affects the three children I produced. No. Not doing it again. EVER.

And still, moving forward with confidence and peace. Mr. Wonderful and I may not have a perfect relationship. But we are stubborn as anyone I know in working towards getting it right. We'll never give up on each other. It's not going to be beautiful all the time, and we know that. But we know not to ever give up and to keep trying until it's back on track. That much I know.

As far as wedding plans, they're winding down. I still don't have flowers, or clothes for the kids (or Mr. Wonderful), and my dress was too big when I tried it on today. But the big details are coming together and it's going to be the most beautiful wedding, ever. And so meaningful.

A friend asked me a few days ago if it would really be all that different, being married, since we've lived together since June. Lord, yes!!! I haven't let my head go there new last name...vowing my commitment until my last breath...being stepdad....making the vow to the children...officially a family...

Yes, talk about a different life. I'm sure once we all get used to the new feeling and titles things will fall right back into this same groove we're in now, but is it different?

God yes.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fitness of the Mental kind

For about the past 8 months, I have been focusing intensely on my overall physical health and fitness. I began blogging about my fitness journey and have made some pretty awesome changes. I feel better than I ever have in my entire life, including my teen years. For the most part, I have the body composition that I have always wanted. I feel like an athlete, I feel strong, I feel less stressed, I feel at my best, I feel in control.

While I'm still striving for goals in that area, I have felt for some time that it is time for me to shift my focus over to my mental and emotional fitness.

I have started to realize how much my perception of other people has to do with my own thoughts and feelings. I've started to realize how powerful my own thoughts are. Labeling someone is a human, flawed trait that we all have. Learning to see deeper takes work and patience.

Everyone is coming into a situation with their own background, emotional baggage, and perceptions. The thing I am working on that is very difficult for me, is to step back, not take things personally (really hard because I am SO SENSITIVE), and see from someone else's point of view. To sympathize with their feelings, to understand emotional reactions vs. rational thought, and to view them as a COMPLETE person. Not as a label.

We all have faults, we all have traits that could very simply place us in a "category". But to do so is dangerous. To do so is to then see every move that person makes as "controlling" "passive aggressive" "ex-hater" "slut" etc. etc., you get the point.

I really feel that getting away from labeling and to focus on sympathizing is one of the keys to true happiness.

It has done wonders for me in a short time in my relationships.

Another thing I've been working on is gratitude. Gratitude seems to be a big "thing" in pop culture lately, a product of the Oprah phenomenon. It has been preached to death in my opinion. I don't like the general attitude of the public that seems to shame people for having any negative feelings or emotions and "be grateful for what you have". To me, it is so important to process ALL feelings, good or bad. However...

Recording the things I am grateful for on a daily basis, privately where only I can see, has been an incredible exercise for me and my daily attitude. It doesn't eliminate emotions or hurt feelings, but it helps me keep focused and get through those times. It exercises my "happiness" muscle, even when I don't want to. My physical fitness training comes into play here...I know how to push myself to do something good for me, even when I don't feel like it, because I know the reward is worth the work.

I'll be continuing my journey to emotional health and being a better person and try to write about it here as much as possible. Surviving the struggles was one thing, becoming the best I can be is another, but worth working for.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Wedding Plans and an Attitude Adjustment

Less than two months to the wedding in San Francisco.

Yes. Yes that is correct. (I need CPR)

Wedding plans, however simple, are coming together. As much as I do not want to be bothered with details, there have to be a few. We're making our own playlist for the wedding and dinner and playing it on a portable ipod speaker. We've decided against a cake in SF, just for the reception back home, since the venue provides dessert along with dinner. His wedding ring just arrived, mine a few weeks ago. The reception invitations are being designed, addresses gathered.

This is really happening.

Mr. Wonderful has been living here for a few weeks now. Before he moved in, we had a conversation about how we both needed to be alert that through times of large transition, we do not do well. I have been having pretty stressful health issues that have required me to undergo a series of expensive tests, both of which scared the crap out of us both. Because I've been ill, I haven't been able to work or help, and I've been irritable. Mr. W has been supervising our house renovations, building a shed for the backyard and tiling the patio all by himself, as well as helping me with the kids and adjusting to a)being here all the time at the same time that b)the kids are home all day for summer. Add in a little pinch of wedding plans and a dash of exhaustion and you have a recipe for disaster.

We began bickering, and then I went into self-protection mode, which in turn caused him to do the same. And that is a no-win situation.

I began to retreat as I always do. Luckily, I have friends around me in the same in particular who advised me to call my therapist asap. I almost didn't. I almost just decided to run. I cannot even tell you where my mind goes when I go into this panic attack.

I sat down with my therapist and she refreshed me on everything I have learned. Do not categorize Mr. W. See him for HIM. Listen when he's upset or stressed. Do not instantly take it personally. Reflect on what he is saying. Stop "sticking up for yourself" and being defensive. Instead, be a loving partner to him so that he can in turn be the same to me.

Literally I was done with that session after a half hour. It brought me right back to where I know I need to be, I just lost sight of what is needed of me to make this relationship the success that it has always been, because I was too busy being terrified and scared and protecting myself.

I came home and things changed instantly. We have not bickered once since then, even after several situations where it could have gone down. Once I changed my attitude, his changed naturally. It's pretty mind-blowing how a simple adjustment can make such a big difference all around. We are no longer defensive of ourselves and instead working together to understand one another, the way it has been all along.

And I cannot wait to marry him and call him my husband once and for all.

Big. Huge. Sigh. Of. Relief.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Father

Two years ago next month, I met a hot guy at a concert event where I felt a little too old and too worn to be socializing. Most everyone there was twenty-something, and I was only 32 but had lived enough life experience to feel at least 30 years older than that. I had three small children staying at my ex-husband's that weekend, and about 3 miles away, my father was in the hospital fighting for his life after a brain tumor surgery had almost destroyed him. I was there at the concert straight from the hospital, where I had held my father's hand and cried next to his bed. The concert was my escape and I just wanted to forget who I was and the life I was living at the moment.

When I struck up a conversation with the hot guy, and he explained to me his current situation of living overseas, I realized I had a connection with him, that neither of us had it easy and he, too, was wise beyond his years in a way that only experience can give you.

I asked how old he was, he answered "27" and I giggled to myself. He asked about my living situation and I approached the uncomfortable moment I always had when I met guys-but I could tell he could handle it, so I told him about my kids. All three of them. And he didn't run, which I already expected just in the short time of speaking with him, but he also asked their names and memorized them and asked me all about them. If you had told me at that moment that I was looking into the face of the man who would someday be the stepfather to those three kids, I would love to say that I would be surprised, but something inside of me that day just *knew*, although it would take me forever to admit that. He had such a kindness and gentleness to him, he made me feel safe, like I could tell him anything, on day 1.

Last week Mr. Wonderful took the kids and I to Mexico on a "Familymoon", and it was what turned out to be the epitome of everything this relationship has become. He carefully balanced his time between throwing the kids into the swimming pool, jumping waves with them, taking them out on kayaks, making sure each and every day that each child got individual attention. He also took the time to relax with me on the beach and made sure we had time alone. Everyone came home happy, connected, relaxed, and ready to move forward.

I was fully prepared, before I met Mr. Wonderful, to be a single mother for a very long time. I was worn thin by trying to survive, and I hoped every single day that someday my kids could forgive me for not being able to do it all, for any needs they had that might have to go unmet, for the exhaustion and the messy home and lack of money and free time. Even if I did meet someone, I didn't want to bring anyone new into their lives, and I was prepared to have a separate love life if need be.

It took me almost a year to introduce the kids to him, and so much angst and analyzing and therapy went into that decision. It was a huge gamble that I wasn't quite honestly sure would ever pay off.

So when I see him loving them the way he loves me-catering to their individual needs, thinking decisions through with such patience and love, putting himself second to them after a lifetime of only having to think of humbles me. I don't know that if I were in the same situation reversed that I would have what it takes to do the same. To give up any chance of having my own biological children in place of loving and sharing three with two other parents, and constantly being looked at and acknowledged by the outside world as "just the step-parent".

A few months ago, Mr. Wonderful visited an attorney to find out what rights he will have as a stepfather. In short, he will have virtually none. If anything were ever to happen to me, he has a very high possibility of losing the three children that he loves more than anything, and would be at the mercy of my ex husband. My 4 year old, who he will have known since she was in diapers and calls him T-Daddy, my middle daughter, who screeches with laughter and giggling everytime he is around, and my son, who idolizes his future stepfather. The thought of any of them losing that relationship makes me want to sob, and I have promised him I will take care of myself so that he never has to worry about that. It's enough to make someone want to start a movement for step-parent rights.

Because what I have learned that I don't know that I believed before, is that it is possible for a person to come into an established family and make it his own. I believe that Mr. Wonderful is a better father to his step-children than most men are to their biological kids.

I look at the path they were on before they met him, and compare it to the path they are on now, and I believe they will owe a future of success and happiness to him coming into their lives.

They will know what a happy and healthy marriage is supposed to look like. I see my 8 year old daughter watching us with awe. She never saw her father love her mother, or treat her mother with care and love. She will have the perfect model of a man to look for when it is her time.

All three will have his support, his ear, his understanding, his quiet, caring discipline, and his un-dying adoration. They are truly so lucky, as am I.

This year he will have his first real Father's Day, and I cannot say enough to him about the praise and adoration I have for a man who has brought so much happiness into the lives of my children, of OUR children, and no gift or card or sentence could ever do justice to the thanks I have in my heart for what he does for this family each and every moment of the day.

Happy Father's Day, "Mr. Wonderful". You deserve it more than anyone I know.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Here I am.

I'm here, too busy to write much, but here.

So much has gone on, I wouldn't even know where to begin, but here are the highlights.

Mr. Wonderful and I decided that if he was going to be moving in here, we needed to have a working bathroom. My master bathroom hasn't worked in two years. I got an estimate to fix it when it broke, but couldn't afford to on my single mom budget. He was set to move in at the end of July and wanted to take care of it before he settled in.

What started as fixing the bathroom plumbing quickly became a bathroom remodel. And then that turned out so gorgeous, we decided to convert the garage into a second living area/theater room so that he and I would have our own space to relax. And then that turned out so great, that we had the entire interior painted and re-textured. And then a brand new patio/outdoor living area. Whole new exterior. Guest bathroom remodel. All new hardwoods. All new landscaping.

Basically, there is a brand new and improved home that where my old 70's one stood.

This has been the perfect compromise for us. It is not easy for him to concieve of moving into the home where I raised my children with my ex, even if it was only a couple of years. But the kids love this home, all their friends and their schools are in this neighborhood, and it's truly a great house.

But now, it has plenty of living space for us all, the concepts all have his input. A fresh start with the convenience of not having to move or uproot the kids.

And, they LOVE having a theater in their own house :)

Everything is falling into place so well, that we have decided that Mr. Wonderful will go ahead and move in 2 months early, in just 2 weeks.

I'm so ready. But I'm a little nervous. We tend to go through rough spells when there is big change. I think we're both prepared this time and our communication skills have come leaps and bounds from a year ago.

As I write, I can see Mr. Wonderful out the window, in the 90 degree heat, digging a flower bed and making a walkway for us. I know that I shoudn't compare, but it is such a different life having a man around who takes pride in taking care of his house, his family, and his wife. As a single mom, I could get by, but I couldn't do it all. Now, I do feel like I have it all. So much happiness under one awesome roof, it just doesn't get any better.

The wedding is in about 3 months, and I feel nowhere near prepared. We've been so focused on getting the house in order and ready for his impending move that we haven't been thinking much about it. I dream about it almost nightly, usually panicked dreams of showing up in the wrong dress, or without makeup, or a minister, the wrong place, or even to the wrong groom. So I guess somewhere in my subconscious I'm worried about getting it all done, but my conscious mind doesn't even have time to entertain the thoughts :) We are taking a vacation in a couple of weeks as a family, and our house should be finished while we are gone, so after we return, we'll get serious about getting everything finished up.

Thanks for the emails and comments asking about me. Life has been crazy.

Thursday, March 31, 2011


I haven't had much to write about, there's really nothing to say that hasn't already been said. It's nice that my life has stabilized somewhat but it makes for a very boring blog.

Wedding planning is coming along, I find myself annoyed that I have to waste time on things like picking flowers and cakes and music, and more annoyed that the wedding planner wants us to spend ridiculous amounts of money on such things that I know from experience no one remembers anyways. I care about my dress, having a great minister, having family there, a vacation to remember not only with the kids but on our honeymoon, eating amazing food, and all the other normal things we would invest in. When she asks me about flowers for a table centerpiece, all I think of is that it will be in the way of my family's faces at dinner. Cake? Why can't we pick one up from the grocery store? Why does a cake for 15 people have to cost over $200 minimum?? Something we will DIGEST AND NEVER SEE AGAIN. Decor? I just want soft candles and white lights and lanterns, $50 max. For Christ's sake, we will be overlooking the GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE, isn't that decor enough?

I just want to have a nice time with my family and marry the man of my dreams and get this party started. Having two places is old. Not sleeping together every night is old. Calling him my fiance is old. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad we took a year engagement to adjust everyone and ourselves to the idea, it just gives me time to put it all in perspective; and nothing matters except that he and I spend the rest of our lives together.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Attack of the Exes

Sorry to have been MIA lately. Life, ya know?

Lately Mr. Wonderful and I have been working a lot on the dynamic and boundaries with the ex, which are both two totally opposite things. I've made it my goal since Day 1 to try and have a good relationship with my ex husband so that my children are comfortable around us and never feel tension. I was an adult when my parents divorced and good lord, they made it SO incredibly impossible to be around the both of them at the same time. The guilt and the silence and the snide remarks and the tension you could cut with a knife. It never got easier and I was an adult who should be able to handle it, so I am in no way ever going to be responsible for putting my kids through the same thing.

My ex has been cold to me since he found out that I was dating Mr. W a year and a half ago. Yes, he's the one who cheated on me, then I took him back, then he did it again...I gave him every opportunity and chance and grace one could give another human and he fucked me over anyways. So why *he* was so shocked that I would move on well over a year after him leaving is beyond me, and why *he* would be so angry at *ME* for moving on at all is even further beyond my realm of comprehension. But he always is and is always cold in front of them. With my therapist's help we've made several strides towards being cordial but good God, it has not been easy.

On the other hand, Mr. Wonderful is in the intense process of bonding with these three children whom he is step-parenting, and we have been also working on setting up boundaries with my ex. Issues like, should their Dad be able to pick them up on nights that aren't his just because? Should he still be taking the kids to school everyday when Mr. Wonderful would like the chance to take them on our mornings?

And just when I think that it all can't get anymore intense, my son had a concert at his school tonight that every single parent and grandparent ended up coming to. So all at once, I had my mom and dad in the same room, their current spouses who both hate the exes, my mother desperate for my attention over my stepmother, my stepmother who always makes me feel like she's mad at me no matter what I do and also hates my mother, my Dad who is now in a wheelchair and completely disabled and not speaking after his brain tumor operation 2 years ago, my kids who are terrified of my dad and the situation, my fiance and my ex husband, my fiance's mother who is trying to set up a relationship with the kids and my fiance who is worried about her, my ex husband coming over to speak to my parents before my fiance is able to and making a big show about hugging them, and then my fiance who has just learned that he'll be introduced to our son's teachers for the first time along with my ex as a parent. Gah my heart races just typing it all down again. I don't think I took one breath through the entire concert.

When I get really stressed out, like Dad-in-hospital or marriage-falling-apart type stress I get low grade fevers and chills. I always think I'm coming down with something. Tonight this happened and when I got to the event it wasn't hard to figure out why. I feel like I've got every single one of these balls in the air and it is my job to keep them all going. The kids need me to keep everything smooth between their dad and stepdad, to keep them reassured about my dad, to keep everything smooth between my parents and their spouses. My future husband needs me to reassure him that he will be treated equally as a parent, that his mom will feel included as a grandparent. My family needs me and I need for all of them to be happy so that *I* can be happy.

I just wish that everyone being happy didn't involve me constantly walking a balance beam with a hundred balls in the air.

*Shrug* Such is life, I suppose.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


I don't have patience. I'm really. really. really bad at being patient.

Mr. Wonderful has been in my life for 19 months now, and I have known that we were meant to be together forever for 18 months 2 weeks.

Those of you who have met your "soulmate" know what I'm talking about. You know, right away. A way I never knew with my ex-husband and really didn't think existed.

Something about the two of us together is just perfection. He brings out my best, I bring out his. His mother recently marveled to me about his transformation since meeting me, saying she hardly recognizes him. He has become softer, more sensitive, more patient and loving and secure. He credits that to our relationship, and to becoming a father. I know that since I met him I have become a better parent by a million percent. He is such a natural at it, and seriously pushes me to always do what's right and healthy.

To be completely honest, if it were up to me, he'd probably be living here now. But he was the one who assessed the situation and decided that our kids just weren't ready and needed more time. At the time of his proposal, he was right. But now that the decision has been made and it's 6 months later, GOOD GOD WE'RE SO READY AND I JUST WANT HIM HERE.

The kids beg him not to leave every night. They all ask every day how much longer 'til he lives here. They consider him a Dad and love having him here as much as I do.

It feels wrong not to have him sleeping next to me in bed. We've become so close over the year and a half, and aside from the fun we always have when we're together, his thoughts and opinions and support have become a lifeline for me. I finally know what it feels like to be in a healthy, authentic relationship. I am now so ridiculously impatient to know what a healthy, authentic marriage feels like.

The fears of the wedding and ceremony have been washed away by this restlessness I feel to be married to the man of my dreams. It went from "WHY am I doing this" to "WHEN ARE WE DOING THIS!" Who knew.

Many of my fears about being married had to do with my kids. What would happen if it didn't work out and they had to go through another divorce? And yet, he continues to show me every single day that he is just as committed to these three as he is to me. Last week he wrote the kids the most beautiful, heart-wrenching letter I've ever read. Telling them of his intentions, that he loved them as if they were his, that he would love and protect them, always. Our therapist is so impressed by him that after I told her that he had read a step-parenting book that he disagreed with, she quipped that "he should be the one writing the book". How could I be afraid after hearing that...honestly....

I love telling the story of his practical promise to me. I was once whining about how could I know that he'd never cheat on me, that promises had been made to me before and promises have been broken. He thought about it for a moment, and then in his matter-of-fact way, stated that he would never cheat on me, because if he did and I left him, he wouldn't have any legal rights to see the kids. Knowing how much he loves them and has worked SO HARD on his relationships with them, this was enough to quiet the voices forever. I needed facts, evidence, not whimsical promises.

But this is why I love him. Practical, methodical, analytical, real.


Monday, January 24, 2011

From Breakdown to Breakthrough

Last week, I met my mom, my future mother-in-law, my sister-in-law, and my closest friends for brunch and then for an appointment at the bridal boutique. Yes, brunch did require mimosas and yes, I needed more champagne for the actual appointment. The thought of what I was about to do sat on my mind the entire morning. I heard my friends talking but wasn't really hearing what was being said. I did my best to push down the panic that kept rising up inside of me and to breathe away the anxiety.

Earlier in the week I had an actual breakDOWN. I had an entire day of crying and anxiety attacks and just sheer terror, probably brought on by all the wedding talk and dress obsessing. All the "what-ifs" began taking over and then before I knew it I had convinced myself that getting married is a huge mistake and I was a horrible mother and doomed to live my life alone, not healthy enough to be ever be with anyone. I was a disaster.

I'm lucky enough to have a support system of friends to turn to, one for every aspect of my life. One friend has gone through my situation and is the one I turn to when I have these attacks (and she to me). We have somewhat of a pact to talk each other down, and when she talks I believe her because she knows exactly what I'm thinking and what I'm going through at the moment, yet is in the sane, calm place where I need to be. She helps me recognize that this is just the fear talking. That I love Mr. Wonderful and couldn't live without him. Slowly I calm down enough to get through the rest of the week until therapy.

Once I'm with my therapist, I decide to just unleash it all on her. Here's EVERYTHING I think during a panic attack, and I know it sounds crazy and makes no sense but in the moment it has total control over me. She listens and then says this:

"No relationship is perfect. You guys are going to have problems. There will be personality clashes and issues. But you love him for his character. You KNOW his character and that he is a good man, and you wouldn't have let him into your lives if that weren't the case. All the problems can be worked through, brought here."

It was really all I needed.

So while wedding dress shopping was a little anxious for me, I held tightly onto her words. They really were all I could think about. And when I went into the dressing room with my friend who talked me through the freakout, and she zipped the side of the dress I'd been eyeing, it was tears of joy, relief, happiness, hope, and love that immediately came to my eyes when I saw myself in the mirror as a bride. We looked at each other, tears in her own eyes as well, said "This is it!", and I walked out to face my friends and family as a bride for the second time without any fear or trepidation whatsoever.

I know him, I love him, and the rest can be worked out. That is all that matters.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Saying Yes to the Dress

Friday I had a phone meeting with my wedding planner. This wedding has been so far in the back of my mind that even though I put two pop up screeching alarms in my phone to remind me of her phone call, I still managed to get stuck in the middle of the grocery store when she called exactly on time. It went something like this:

Planner: "So have you thought about flowers?"

Me: "No, I don't really care about flowers."

Planner: "What kind do you like?"

Me: "I don't know."

Planner: "What kinds of colors were you thinking for your decor?"

Me: "Do we really need decor?"

Planner: "Ok. What about your wedding dress, have you started looking?"

Me: "Um. No. should I?"

Planner: "It can take up to 6 months once you've ordered it. So I'd say yes."

Me: "Ok I'll get right on that"

Planner: "Cake? Lighting? Officiant? Have you thought about any of this?"

Me: "I'm thinking about it now."

Planner: "You know, I have this giant binder for you that is supposed to be filled with pictures and pages of things you are looking for, and it is completely empty."

I then stopped the conversation and had to explain to her why in 3 months of having hired her, I've only decided on the location of the venue. I explained to her what I've told all of you here. The wedding freaks me out a bit. I've done this before and I'm petrified to do it again. It feels like I know the end to this story because I've lived it before, and it's taking everything in me to tell myself that this one ends differently. Every effort, every stitch of hope and faith that I have inside.

Lucky for me, the wedding planner then admits that she too has been married twice and totally understands how I am feeling. Phew.

I promise her that I am beginning therapy on it this week and that I will concentrate on looking for the dress. I tell my friends the story and one of them takes charge and sets a date of 2/12 to go try on dresses with my mom, sister-in-law, future mother-in-law, and my 4 best friends (to provide Xanax and hold the paper bag when I hypervenilate).

I do hang up the phone and start feeling like I'd better tackle these things. Once home, I decided to google wedding dresses. The images popped up on the screen and for a second I pictured myself in one, and then for some reason remember the old Sex and The City episode where Carrie tries on a wedding dress and instantly breaks out in a rash and can't breathe. Ugh.

I started looking through bridal blogs and online magazines that before, had my stomach in knots and made me feel overwhelmed. And then something clicked and I became OBSESSED. I researched the different wedding boutiques in town, and this lead me to researching the different designers and price points, and then before you know it I see a dress that I think might be THE DRESS:

It couldn't be more different than my "other one". It's stylish, it's short, it's ivory, perfect for a west coast destination wedding and for what Mr. Wonderful is planning on wearing. I can wear it out to party after the wedding and dinner, and I can wear it again to the wedding reception two weeks later back home. And it's $1100 cheaper than my budget ($395!)

Did I just do this? Did I just find a dress and not break out in a rash and hyperventilate? Well, we have yet to see really, I still have to try it on and look in the mirror and see *me* as a bride again.

And that's what it boils down to. I have to see me as a bride again. After my mom asked to go bridal gown shopping with me I started thinking about how it must feel as a mother to take your daughter wedding dress shopping twice. Will she cry this time too, overwhelmed with emotion at the sight of me as a bride, or is that old hat by now? I remember finding the "perfect" dress last go around with her, and how we both were overwhelmed with different than what I will be feeling this time I'm sure. Last time I felt as though I were riding off into the sunset. I had found my Prince Charming and life would finally be easy. Now I have absolutely no delusions of what marriage is, what it entails, and how fragile it can be. What emotions will I have as I slip the dress on and peer into the mirror at a 34 year old bride and mother of three? I'm almost afraid of what might come up. This is the closest one can get to literally "trying on" marriage again.

Through my researching I heard about the TLC show "Say Yes to the Dress". I decided to watch a couple of episodes on my ipad while I worked out and within a day I was completely hooked. Last night I watched it on Netflix until 2am. Every single episode I cry. When I first separated from my husband and would go out with friends we'd occasionally come across bachelorette parties. If I'd had enough to drink I might warn the poor, unsuspecting girl "DON'T DO IT!" I'd see tv shows like Say Yes to the Dress and think to myself "pigs running to a slaughter house". I convinced myself that marriage itself was the problem.

I've been hurt so badly. I don't want to get hurt again. I don't want to be abandoned again.

But I have chosen to face all these fears and make the conscious effort to move forward and try. And when I think of *after* the wedding, I am ok. I know that Mr. W and I will work anything out that comes up because we do have a love and respect for each other that I know many marriages and couples do not have. It's just the act of getting there, the touchstone that I've touched before.

But this one *will* be different in so many ways, including the man who will be waiting for me at the end of the aisle. I've got to keep my eye on that prize...him.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


I'm a little late getting this done, I've been formulating in my mind what I wanted my "resolutions" for 2011 to be plus I'm on vacation from my job so sitting at this computer feels like work :)

I say "resolutions" in quotes because I really prefer to think of them as goals. Resolutions infers that I want to change something about myself or my past, and I've learned that no experience, good or bad, comes in vain but with a lesson needed to be learned. Goals are much more attainable and realistic to me. Once I set my mind to something it gets done.

1. Working through more fears- I'm doing really well on my fears on so many fronts. I've learned to trust Mr. W completely, through both my own work and with time and experience showing me he can be trusted. But for some reason I do have one fear remaining and it's a big one: the wedding.

You know how when you've done something before, and you're doing it again, your mind automatically draws back on the experiences of the last time? Yeah. That.

No matter how hard I try and pretend like this is the first wedding "that means anything" or this is "the real deal" it's still not my first wedding. And preparing for it just brings back bad memories, I really don't know how to explain it other than that. I want to be married to Mr. Wonderful, want to be his wife and he my question. I would do it tonight if he said ok. But he wants a wedding, thank God a small one with family only, and he deserves it. For some reason that I just don't fully understand yet, I have a mental block. I'm going to be working on this in individual therapy over the next few months while at the same time trying to really begin pulling this wedding together. And in the meantime just hope that he is understanding of this and won't take it personally, cuz really....I would.

2. Fitness and health- my fitness and nutrition has become an increasingly important priority to me over the past few years. Every new year I used to make resolutions to "lose weight" until finally a few years ago, I decided I'd had enough beating myself up for the way I looked and was just sick of feeling blah and unhealthy all the time. I changed my eating to feel better and this mentality has kept me working out and eating well for years now, and has kept "lose weight" off my new year's resolutions list. It's a great feeling. But I'm always pushing myself to be the best I can be, and this year I'm working on getting even leaner while sculpting my muscles. I want to seriously be in top shape. While I really started working on this goal back in November, I'm really pushing it over the next several months to see what I can do. Lean meats and fruits and veggies. No sugar, pasta, or bread or cheese. Intense bodyweight workouts. This is my new lifestyle and while a few months ago it sounded impossible, it has become my reality and I LOVE THAT FEELING!

3. My ex- like hitting my head against a brick wall over and over, I keep coming back to this situation. Although I don't understand why, my ex is cold and rude to me in front of my children. I guess in his head he has turned the whole situation around. He can't get past me moving on, or another man becoming a father figure in his kids' lives. I don't know. But my goal from the beginning was always to have an amicable relationship with him for the sake of the kids. And that will never change. I know the feeling of anxiety of being around my parents, who hate each other, as a grown adult...I can't imagine how that translates for a child. I worry everyday how this is affecting them and who they will become. I owe it to them to keep giving it my best and to try and find a way for things to be more comfortable for them.

I'll add more as I think of them. I've sat at this computer for just about as long as I can take :)