The Difference a Year Makes

Our blog has been around for a year. Vanessa and I started this when we were both let go from our jobs and had nothing else to do. We’re meeting this weekend, in a small town that’s half-way between where we live, to talk about where we’ve been and where we want to go.

In January 2021, I was still living at the house. My husband and I had separated, but still living together. I knew, by this time, he was gay. After we’d opened our marriage the year before, and I met someone, he invited my partner to stay with us on his days off. So, I was living with my husband, my boyfriend, my son, and my dad. How many people can say that?

I’d started a new job last January. I was happy, and ready, to be working again after three months of unemployment.

Little did I know what was about to come.

By March, my dad had lost enough sight that he asked to live in assisted living. Once we got him into a home, I was realized I was free. After yet another argument, I looked at my husband and said, “Give me <this amount of dollars> and I’m out of here.” I didn’t want the house; I only wanted my share of it.

He couldn’t buy me out, but his parents could. Once the wheels were set in motion, I started to look for my own place. When I found it, I was gone. The stars aligned and I think it was 3 weeks from start to finish. My banker and lawyers didn’t believe a transaction could happen so quickly!

It was the first time in my (nearly) 55 years that I’d bought property by myself. My son elected to stay at the house where he’d spent the last 10 years of his life. I was truly on my own. I had my dog, and I had my boyfriend, but he was (and still is) away at work more than he’s home so it was – for the most part – just me.

By the end of the summer, I knew I couldn’t keep my dog. He was not adapting to condo life. He is a very smart dog and he knew I wasn’t the leader he needed. I hired trainers to give us 1:1 instruction, and nothing improved. In the end, I had to rehome him. For the first time in 30+ years, I was living without a dog. I thought it would be harder, but it wasn’t. There was a weight lifted not having to revolve my life around the needs of a dog. It gave me even more time and space to work through my own issues.

I had a great vacation with my boyfriend at the end of the year. It felt like things were starting to settle. I knew I’d be starting a new job, again, in January and was very much looking forward to it.

My son stayed at my place while we were gone. Without the stress of everything going on at the house, he realized his stress and anxiety were gone. He didn’t want to go back.

So, he and his 12 year old dog have moved in with me. I’m now undertaking my first home renovation to give him a bedroom/bathroom of his own on the first floor of the condo.

There is no way I could have predicted so much change. When you look at the major stressors in a person’s life, I had quite a few – marriage breakdown, new home, new job, (sort of) empty nest.

A year later – here I am. My own home, my dream job, my son is living with me, I have a dog in the house again, and a caring, supportive boyfriend.

The difference a year makes.

Missing…but in Action

I have good intentions about blogging regularly, and then…life.

My son, Nathan, stayed at my place while Martin and I were in Mexico. After two weeks, he realized his anxiety was non-existent and his hypochondria was greatly reduced. He asked if he and his dog could move in with me permanently. Nathan had enough of dealing with his step-dad and living in a toxic environment. The ex’s boyfriend made it clear he wanted me and my son out of HIS house a few months ago (I wasn’t living there!).

Little did we know, having Nathan “out of sight” also meant he was “out of mind”. My ex had his family over for Christmas and didn’t invite Nathan. He’s always said helping to raise Nathan is his proudest accomplishment – but, no Christmas? Not even a gift. My ex gave his cleaning lady a gift, but not his son. When Nathan talked to him about it, the response was, “Oh, I didn’t think we were doing that this year.” He never asked. He didn’t want Nathan there because the truth might come out. You can bet his boyfriend and the boyfriend’s dog weren’t at the house the same time as his family.

Sorry, I tend to rant when I think of that man…

Nathan is now wrestling with, “I thought he cared about me.” He will be getting counselling to help him deal with it.

So, to give me and my son some privacy, I’ve decided to finish the downstairs room in my condo. He will have his own bedroom and half-bath. I reached out to four contractors. Two came to see the place, and only one came through with a quote. We’re now in the waiting game of getting a development permit from the city. I spent last week developing drafting skills as the basement plans had to be drawn to scale. Grade 8 math came in handy!

Then, I started a new job at the start of January. I absolutely love it. It challenges my brain in a way it hasn’t been used in a long time. The work day passes very quickly. By the end of it, I’m exhausted. Mentally exhausted. It’s all I can do to get to the gym 4-5 times a week. When I get home, I barely have the energy to make dinner before falling asleep on the couch.

I’ve decided to learn Spanish this year, so spend 15 minutes a night using Duolingo. I’ve got a 42 day streak going and am determined to see it grow to 365 days. Learning Spanish has been on my “to do” list for a few years and the recent vacation reignited the interest.

There’s been more dealings with the ex regarding his lover’s dog biting Nathan, dealing with animal control, deciding what to do with Nathan’s car, getting the divorce finalized and organizing our trip to Maui in February. There doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day.

I’m confident things will settle down this year. Nathan’s bedroom will get finished. I can arrange my living area the way I want. The divorce will be finalized (hopefully!) and the ex will be forever out of our lives. I’ll build the endurance so a full day of work doesn’t make me want to nap at the end of the day.

So, yeah…I’ve been missing from here, but am still definitely in action.

The Elephant In The Room

I have an affinity for elephants. I always thought they were kindred spirits of mine. I am taking a Kundalini class and tonight we explored the tools and symbolism of the First Cakra.

Some of the questions asked are “What is the foundation I stand on and what needs to be updated within that foundation?”

I was sure my foundation is based on well fitted and firmly placed footings. As I learn and explore the world I created for myself I feel that I am in a pretty good place. 

What I didn’t suspect was the fissures running through the support structure.

Is my foundation built on decisions made out of a sense of fear? Fear of not belonging, fear of not measuring up, fear of financial hardships, fear of becoming my parents?

I know I have to consider fear when making life decisions. How can you not? It’s alway present and causes a bit of anxiety for us all. Has it interfered with my path? I would be lying if I said it hasn’t at all.

What tools in the First Cakra can help with fear? The Child Brahma makes the gesture that all fear will be dispelled. I have to set the intent with sincerity and humility. I can practice that. I gaze upon the goddess Satki Dakini. She holds a spear in one of her hands. What animals dwell within me that need spearing? Do I operate with instinct or awareness? The mastering of hitting the target comes with practice and skill development. The basics are here to renovate my foundational core. I can use the staff to help me clear my cluttered mind. Fear lingers in the monkey chatter and tends to obscure my ability to see things through an unfettered perspective. What is true and what is false? What is still distracting me from my purpose and the goals I have set out for myself?

How do I move out from a platform of fear?

I must start where I am instead of where I think I should be. I am encouraged to move slowly with purpose and discrimination. This reminds me of the purpose of silent retreats. When you remove a sense the others are heightened. In this case, not all sound is removed but a significant portion of physical chatter. The art is in quieting the inner chatter while dismissing the need for outer voice.

I glance once again at the First Cakra. The Elephant of Indra draws attention and I smile at the instant analogy of “The elephant in the room”. What does my elephant look like? I do feel clumsy sometimes when I try to meditate or do some of the yoga poses. I wasn’t born very graceful I am afraid. Yet, that isn’t really the purpose of the poses. It’s the connection to the mind and body that counts. Do my preconceived ideas about how I am supposed to look while doing yoga hinder my progress? I would have to answer that sometimes it does. I have proven to myself that I am strong and able to overcome many challenges in life. Like the elephant though, I am stubborn and sometimes hold onto hurts that hinder my ability to heal completely. My words sometimes are clumsy lacking the clarity of intent. I have worked on getting better at choosing my words if they are needed at all and when the right time appears to share them with others. Saving your words and choosing to listen with silence, even in the mind, is truly a remarkable skill to fine tune.

Once in a while, in meditation, I reach a level of complete silence. It is a blissful moment when all noise is gone and the cosmic voice can be heard. The vibration generated is like Prana.

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