Monday, November 26, 2012

Monday Morning Flowers

Happy Mondays, Everyone!

Hope you had a good long weekend.

Despite being sick through much of it, I had a wonderful one!



I loved having my College Boy home.

A Certain Very Nice Man came to see me.  (Always fun!)

I even got the Christmas tree decorated.


This week is going to be a busy one, so I may not be around the web too much, 
but you know Betty is crazy about you!



Life is good!


Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn't know you left open.


--John Barrymore 

                                                     

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!


Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!  


Hope you are having wonderful days!



None is more impoverished than the one who has no gratitude.  Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy.  

                                            ~Fred De Witt Van Amburgh

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

No More Schlumpy Betty and My 1000th Post Request Which You Are Required to Carry Out.





This summer during my house renovation, I pretty much lived in three pair of shorts, assorted ratty t-shirts, and my sneakers. Since all my earthly possessions were crammed in and piled up in my garage, on the rare occasion when I needed other clothing, I had to crawl over a mattress, squeeze between couches and then belly crawl under a table to get to the stack of clothes bagged up and stacked on a dresser.  It didn’t happen very often and that was fine.  Gypsum dust filled the air and wet paint was around every corner.  My shorts and t-shirts were the perfect ensemble for that time and place.

 As most of you know, the work went on forever and there were only a few days between when I shoved the last contractor out of the house and the start of school.  The night before my first day of class, I hurriedly hung my work clothes back in my newly painted closet. The next day, I grabbed an old reliable, if somewhat boring, outfit and wore it to school.  The next day I repeated the process, barely stopping in front of a mirror check out my bad self.  I knew I didn’t feel great in my clothes, but after all, I had just been through all kinds of upheaval.  These were my teaching outfits that I had worn for years.  They were not very exciting but they had served me well in the past.

So there I was at the start of week three, walking up to my office when the maintenance man, who is one of my good friends who saw me through the mess of last year, stopped, stared and said, ‘What in the hell are you wearing? “  (Believe me, given his tone of voice and his facial expression, there was no way to misconstrue this comment as a compliment.)  I looked down at my clothes and suddenly I saw them for what they were: a baggy dress and old lady shoes.  What was I wearing anyway?  These clothes that had fit me well before and were my idea of what I should be wearing as teacher no longer fit me in any way shape or form.  I felt old.  I felt schlumpy. I knew it was time to make a change.

Now, almost every woman who goes through a divorce loses weight.  For me, it was a fairly dramatic nine pounds in one week, twelve pounds in total.  I knew I looked skeletal, but the thought of eating made me sick to my stomach.   I stayed that thin for some time.  One day when I was wearing black tights and a long straight black dress, the same blunt friend said to me, “Lord, girl. You are one bun away from being Olive Oyl. For God’s sake, go get some clothes with some color and eat a pizza while you are at it.” 

Now I am a pretty evolved woman.  I totally understand that my worth does not depend upon my beauty, but when you are left behind by a man and he goes directly to another woman, all the anxiety about your looks that you thought you dealt with when you were twenty-two come back.  When I closed my eyes at night, all the black cockroaches of insecurity came out to click and rattle in my head.  Was I not pretty enough?  Had I let myself go?  Is that why he left? Was the other woman a beauty with no wrinkles whatsoever?  In the light of day the stress and tension of the divorce showed on my face.  I looked drawn and exhausted.  I felt drained.  No ego boost there.  This summer while cleaning out the house, I came across all those pictures of me during the kid years.  It was painful to look at some of them. There I was in the large glasses, the stringy hair, the bulky sweater with the catsup stains, proudly holding out a perfectly groomed, clean, impeccably dressed little boy who did not care one hoot how he looked.  Was it possible that through time, stress and sacrifice I had  lost all the beauty that once was mine?  Could I ever get it back?

There is something about getting a wake-up call in the middle of your life.  Divorce certainly tears down everything that is familiar to you and it’s your job to rebuild.  That day at school I realized that while those clothes were a little big on me, the real issue was that they did not fit my personality any longer. Those were my old Betty clothes and I was a new Betty.  I went home that day, got out of my car, stood in my garage, took off that dress and put it in the Goodwill bag.  Then I went to my closet and cleaned it out.  I took out anything that I didn’t like.  Whether it was old or new, if I put it on and I didn’t feel good in it, out it went.  It was scary at first.  It went against everything I had been taught. Who did I think I was throwing out perfectly good clothing?  A woman on her own, with a single salary, in debt over a home renovation should not be so picky.  The voice of my mother was strong in my head and yet, finally, there was a stronger voice that come through too.  You are no longer settling.  You deserve to feel good.  You are in charge of how you look.  Life is too damn short to wear clothes you don’t feel good in. 

The next weekend I went to my hairdresser and got a new haircut.  I bought some new make-up and most importantly, I bought some new clothes. I figured it was time to have some fun, to take some chances with my style.  I forced myself to try on clothes that I ordinarily would have passed by thinking they were too far out for me.  Every day, I am surrounded by 18 and 19 year-olds who celebrate their creativity by putting together outfits that are sometimes winners and sometimes not so much, but who cares?  They inspire me with their willingness to try new things. From now on, I’ve decided to dress in clothes that make me feel good about myself.  In the past, I have worried too much about how people view me and have taken the “safe” route, but I have discovered when people are confident and feel good in whatever they are wearing, no one questions their choices. Everyone feels good being around people who feel good about themselves. It’s all about the attitude, baby. 

Never fear.  I am aware that I am a woman in my fifties.  There will be no rhinestone thong playing peek-a-boo from some pair of low-slung jeans.  I get it that halter tops are probably not appropriate to wear to work.  But I recently fell in love with some rather hip looking boots complete with strap around the heels and some skinny legged jeans and, honey, I bought ‘em and I wore ‘em and I feel great in them.

Life gave me a do-over and I grabbed on to it.  Sometimes I’ll try on an outfit in the morning and face the mirror.  When I waver on whether I should take a chance on a look,  I say aloud, “Oh, why the hell not?” and I laugh.  Seriously, if not now, when?   I am done with the kid years, I am dating a wonderful man, (who, by the way, thinks I am absolutely gorgeous no matter what I am wearing) and I managed to stop gaining back the weight I lost when I got to a comfortable place for me.  In many ways, I am in the prime of my life.  It’s time to have some fun, to live, to explore, to take some chances.

I wonder now if life had not given me this opportunity, whether I would have snapped myself out of the hole I was in.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  All I know is I was given a chance to reinvent myself and I am grateful for it.  No more Schlumpy Betty. 

Now, not to be a big shot or anything, but this is my 1000th post.  Everyone in Blogland knows that on the occasion of your 1000th post, you get to make a request and your readers are required to carry out that request.  (What?  You’ve never heard of this rule?  It’s true!) 

Here is my humble request: I would like you, my dear readers, to arise up off of your buttocks, go to your closets and get out one piece of clothing that you dislike--that shirt that makes you feel fat, that pair of pants you spent a lot of money on but that make you feel old, that sweater that someone gave you but that you hate—and I want you to throw it away or donate it.  Get rid of it.  Don’t listen to those voices in your head that are telling you to keep it.  Listen to me instead.  You deserve to feel good.  Life is too short to wear clothes that make you feel less than absolutely great.  

Are you with me, my people?  Will you carry out my request? 
Repeat after me:  “We will, Betty!  We will!”
Leave me a comment and tell me what you are getting rid of. 

Now go out there and be fabulous.



Monday, November 19, 2012

Monday Morning Flowers!


Hello, My People!

Sorry I have not been around too much lately.

School is keeping me super busy.



I am SO looking forward to some time off for Thanksgiving.

The best thing?  Evan will be coming home from college today!


I have missed that boy!

How was your weekend?


 Mine was great.

I threw a birthday party for A Certain Very Nice Man.  

The electricity was partially out, so I had to cart of the food to a friend's house to get warm,  but it all worked out just fine!

Hope you have a wonderful Monday!

--Epictetus


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Looking Up Thursday!


Colorado was beautiful and I had a great time, but this California girl was glad to get home to some bright green colors!




Last week's picture was the ceiling of the British Museum in London.  

This week's picture is of the tree in the park down the street.

There is beauty everywhere when things are looking up!


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Colorado Trip: Part Two!




Yesterday was our last day in Colorado.

We had fun with family including my great-nephew Turner.




My great-niece Bea had an ouchie on her arm.


 Note the appropriate facial expression when anyone asked about it.


We found time to hike yesterday.


That's my brother-in-law and sister who just recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary.



My sister and I had a great time catching up and messing around, as only sisters can do.

Today a Certain Very Nice Man and I fly back to our homes in California with lots of good memories.

We've had a wonderful time! 





Sunday, November 11, 2012

Colorado!!


Hi Everybody!

A Certain Very Nice Man and I flew from California to Colorado for the weekend!



I needed to get out of town, breathe some Rocky Mountain air and meet two new members of the family.


Here's my newest great-niece, Felicity.  She's a month old now and a real sweetheart.



Here is Finn, my great-nephew, three months old!



Finn and his mommy.



Time for some hiking at the Garden of the Gods with my sister.



We got back for dinner just in time to watch the white stuff fall.
  
Having a wonderful time!

Hope all is well with you!




Friday, November 9, 2012

Work in Progress







There are days when I miss my old life very much.

There are days when I shudder at the thought of ever living that way again. 

This whole recovery from divorce is like being a Super Ball in a closet. 

One day I am filed with energy, ready to take on the world, overflowing with a sense of happiness and absolute joy at having all these new and wondrous opportunities.  

Then there are days I find myself near tears, grief-filled, still confounded, nostalgic, and well, lonely.

All the books that are written on this subject and all the people who have been through this say this is completely normal, that it takes time to get through this, or any other kind of loss.  There is no one-size-fits-all timetable.

I, of course, didn’t believe that.

Oh, no, I thought.  I was gonna control this process. 

I had a schedule, don’t you know.

One year.  I was going to be absolutely, one hundred percent back on track in one year.


Right.


As you can guess, that one-year benchmark came and on that very day, the Super Ball felt the whack of reality and the erratic bouncing began.  A week later, it happened again.

So much for that plan.

Looking back, I see now that I set that goal because I had a fear that I would never be completely over it, that years from now, when I removed a picture from a frame and underneath it there was a forgotten family picture of the four of us, that I would fall apart again. 

But then, maybe that wouldn’t be the most terrible thing in the world. 

Maybe it would mean that I am human and temporarily falling apart is just a way of honoring that humanness.

The irony is that when I stopped trying so hard to control how I felt and just experienced the emotions I had, my recovery sped up.   I discovered it took a whole lot of energy to try and control the process.  I didn’t trust the healing process of grieving, but it’s been around a long time and when you stand back and let it work, it’s pretty amazing.

For a while, I felt like I owed it to my family and friends to get better faster, so I sometimes faked it.  This fall when I started blogging again on a regular basis, I wanted so badly to present a fully recovered, new and improved, stronger-than-ever Betty on my blog.  I figured that’s what everyone wanted to see and hear about.  Or at least I thought it was. 

When I really sat down and thought about it, I realized that what I really want from my friends and my family is authenticity.  Confused?  Got warts?  Hideously happy when you eat a fresh graham cracker?  Tell me about it all.  Scared?  Proud?  Sad?  It’s OK.  I am too. Let’s talk about it.   Be genuine with me.  Isn't that what we crave in relationships?

So here I come back to Blogland, still limping along, showing my warts, and trying my best to figure out life via the written word.  I do know that I am getting better every day, but it’s a slow process and I am fully willing to admit that there are some days when I am that Super Ball in the closet, bouncing around from emotion to emotion, confused about the trajectory of my life.

But, those days are fewer and further apart than they used to be. 

That's good news.  

The other good news?

Those Super Balls are tough. 

Even when they bounce for a long time, they don’t break.  


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Looking Up Thursday!



Life is good! 

Things are looking up!

So is my cell phone!



Any ideas where this is?

It was taken during my summer travels.

Take a guess.

Hope things are looking up for you too!



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

WACI





Both of my sons are living away from home now, building their own lives in a way that would make any mama proud. 

As hard as it is for a naturally gregarious, sweet, incredibly cool, ultra-active mother such as myself, I try my best not to hover, and to give them the space they need at this point in their lives.  Neither of them is particularly chatty (those of you with young teenage/early 20’s sons understand this) but every so often we have long chats on the weekend.  They are always generous with IT advice when I need it, and there are a few random texts during the week (mostly generated by dear old Mom).

However, every Wednesday afternoon I send them (and Sonny Boy’s girlfriend, because I am crazy about that girl) a text that simply says WACI.   I started doing this six years ago when Sonny Boy started college.  Those letters stand for Wednesday Afternoon Check-In.  They send back simple messages like “Check!” and “WACI to you!” and that’s all it takes to make me smile at my phone like a happy lunatic.

You see, with those WACI’s, I am not suspiciously checking up on them, nor is there is an expectation of a long, involved discussion.  No, I am simply giving them a small tap on the shoulder, letting them know that in the middle of the week, in the middle of the day, wherever she is, their mom is thinking of them, sending them love, and wishing them the best. 

Of course, they know my love for them is constant, but I see them so rarely these days.  I think we all need to be reminded from time to time that the stars we rely upon to twinkle in the nighttime sky are also there in the daytime, fixed and dependable, and shining just as brightly even though we can’t see them.

Happy Wednesday, everyone.  



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Happy Voting Day, America!


I am on the run these days at school and have to be there very early this morning for a meeting, but I'll be sure and stop by to vote before I go.  

I'm doing it because I love my country AND because I want my students to see this sticker on my lapel.

It's the best accessory ever, don't you think?




Happy Voting Day, America!  



Monday, November 5, 2012

Monday Morning Flowers!

Happy Monday, Everyone!

First things first.

Here are your Monday Morning Flowers.


Yesterday the temperature in our neighborhood got into the 90's.

\

These beauties love that kind of heat and are going strong.


Me?  I had a great weekend!  Don't throw things at me, but I love this time change.  More light in the morning and even more reason to go to bed early.

I also had the opportunity to reconnect with some old friends this weekend and am so glad I did. 
 Life has a strange way of sending the right people into our lives at the right time, doesn't it?

Now let's go out there and make the most of this short time on this planet!


Do all the good you can. 
By all the means you can. 
In all the ways you can. 
In all the places you can. 
At all the times you can. 
To all the people you can. 
As long as ever you can.

--John Wesley 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Renovation Pictures! (Finally!)


Ah, renovation!  

As many of you know, I went through a total home renovation this summer.  The house has been done since August, but I have discovered the process of renovation is a little like that of childbirth.  It takes awhile to forget the pain and agony of all, and just settle in and enjoy the end result.  

Here are some shots of two of the rooms that underwent big changes.

Here is Evan's room during the process.



Here it is--all done!


It's waiting for him when he comes home on Thanksgiving Break.

(I can't wait!)

Here's the hall bath before.


And during...


Getting there....


Finally!  All done!


Bath area during


and after!



I'll post more pictures of more of the rooms later.

Thanks for visiting!


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Looking Up Thursday!



Things are looking up around here!


Time to see what the cell phone sees when it's looking up too.





Want to go for a ride?

Happy Thursday!


Madi and Mom at Down Home in NC have decided to join in on the fun today on their own variation of Looking Up Thursday!