OK Universe, I’m listening!

The universe is speaking to me again. No – actually – it’s yelling. It’s doing all but grabbing me by the collar and shaking me.

Today, I attended a Summer Solstice Celebration hosted by our friend Selena, of Luna Terra Soul. She started the celebration by having us choose a goddess card. My goddess was Hecate – the Greek goddess of crossroads and the in-between. In the book accompanying the cards, it states:

You are standing in the liminal spaces between what was and what will be – who you have been and who you are becoming…You’re being tasked to carefully choose the direction of your thoughts, feelings, beliefs and actions….Now is the time to understand the responsibilities require of you as you move forward in a new version of yourself that is as yet unformed.

This hit home. My marriage is done. My son doesn’t require “parenting” so my role as a mother is changing. I’ve recently bought and moved into my own home. Who am I ? What kind of life do I want to live? What do I need to let go of to move forward? These are questions I’ve been pondering.

Selena took us through an exercise to release what no longer serves us. I identified ‘resentment’ as what I needed to release. I was hanging onto resentment towards my ex-husband for the lies, denials, and unwillingness to truly work on our relationship. Even though I now understand why he acted the way he did, there is hurt. I released it today. It no longer serves me.

While we were journalling about what we released, Selena gave us another card from a different deck. This time, it was “Inner Earth”. The statement on the card was:

You’ll survive this. New solutions and new beginnings.

Whoa.

Last night, Selena and Vanessa were at my place to record some podcasts. Selena brought her animal spirit cards. As I was shuffling the deck, two cards fell out. One was the Lion – “the living mascot of self-transformation…This card reminds us that self-mastery is available to all, no matter where our quest begins.” The other was the Frog – a water element. “This card serves as a reminder that water helps us cleanse, forgive, and release.”

So, to pull those two cards last night and then get these two cards today, I know I’m being told to release, forgive, transform – and the universe is telling me it’s going to be OK.

But, that wasn’t enough. Oh no, just in case I still wasn’t getting the message, the final card given to me this morning was from a third deck. It was “Letting Go”.

Life is constantly changing. Nothing ever stays the same…You have the innate courage to acknowledge the situation and know that change is inevitable. It also brings with it newfound freedoms and spiritual growth.

The “Letting Go” card tells me my mantra is: “I am ready to free myself from situations that no longer serve me.” – and I have.

For the past two years, the cards were telling me to find wisdom and hinted at a transformation to come.

Well, it’s happening. I’m on my own. I live near water. I’m doing things that fulfill me without having to justify what I’m doing to anyone. My partner, Martin, tells me he’s enjoying watching me discover myself again. He has dubbed 2021, “The Year of Sharon”.

A few minutes ago, I looked for a summer solstice image to share. The one I’ve posted jumped out at me. It’s the same message.

I don’t believe in coincidence. The alignment of messages is simply too strong to ignore, so I won’t.

I’ve let go. I’m starting a new life. One where I’m not defined as a “wife” or “caretaker”. I’m learning it’s OK to be selfish as long it serves me without disrespecting or harming others. I’m finding peace and contentment within myself, which is making me want to try new things.

I still have some work to do to fully let go of the past, but I’m embracing the future. After today, I feel the Universe is on my side.

Unexpected Adventure

I looked at the quote on our home page today. Adventure definitely is an attitude we need to get through day to day life. Sometimes, our adventures are a result of someone else’s.

My third marriage is ending. We’ve been together 10 years, married for 8.5 years. I always felt like there was ‘something’ that kept my husband from being close to me. He wasn’t able to talk about feelings. He couldn’t tell me why he loved me, saying, “I just do – isn’t that enough?” There wasn’t any intimacy. We lived as roommates.

Five years ago, I started to count down the days until my son graduated. I’d already left his dad and I wasn’t going to break up his family again until he was done high school. My husband knew how I felt. It still wasn’t enough to make him realize our relationship wasn’t working. We argued – a lot. He always said something worth having is worth fighting for. “Bickering” was normal.

We finally decided we weren’t giving each other what each person needed and opened our marriage. Little did I know where this would lead.

It turns out, my husband is interested in men. At first, he believed he was bi-sexual, but it’s becoming more and more apparent he’s gay. He hasn’t dated a woman in over a year. He started smoking pot because it’s what one of his friends does, he bought a motorbike because another friend rides them – it was like living with a 14 year old again. A month after I moved out, he asked one of his friends to move in with him – not as a roommate but as a partner.

It explains so much about our relationship – his inability to be authentic with me, to feel and express his emotions, the lack of intimacy. He was living his own lie and not being honest with himself. How could he be honest with me?

So, here I am, 54 years old and starting over – again. I thought I’d be retiring in 5 years, not paying off another mortgage. I’m happy my husband has realized who he really is, and at the same time, I’d like him to take ownership of how repressing his sexuality affected our relationship. He doesn’t see how the two are related.

I’ve had over a year to process my feelings. I don’t miss living with him. I don’t miss the house or the yard – and I thought I would. I love the condo I’ve bought. I love living two minutes from the lake. I love the freedom of being able to do things and not be told I’m doing it wrong, or being given a “pro tip” to do it differently. I love that his partner/roommate loves dogs and is happy to have Keo visit a couple of times a week to play in the big yard.

I’m starting this adventure because of the one he’s realized, and started, for himself. It’s not what I had planned when we married, but it’s our reality. I could choose to wallow in the grief of ending another long-term relationship, or the unfairness I felt, but that’s not me. Sure, I felt that for awhile; it’s natural. Being on my own has given me a sense of freedom and “lightness” I haven’t felt in a long time.

I’m embracing the rediscovery of “me”. Doing what I like, when I like. Making decisions that are for me alone without having to consider anyone else. Midlife is not only arising, it’s propelling me forward in a way I couldn’t have imagined. Finding my “self” is the biggest adventure of all.

Adventure in Santiago

I was thinking about our theme of “adventure” for this month. I believe everyday is an adventure – we never know what it’s going to bring – especially when living with a child and dogs.

However, some of my adventures came through my work. For a while, I worked on a global learning team and traveled in Europe and South America. It was always an adventure. I didn’t speak the languages, I have many food allergies so ordering at restaurants was always interesting, and navigating my way through airports sometimes proved challenging (especially in Norway!).

I think my trip to Santiago, Chile was my biggest adventure.

It started with not having a company car to meet me at the airport. There was supposed to be someone waiting for me. I admit, it was always kind of cool to arrive somewhere and see my name on a card. It didn’t happen in Santiago.

A man approached me and asked where I was going. I showed him the address of my hotel. He said he’d take me there. The car didn’t have any taxi labels or indications on the outside. I was somewhat relieved when I got inside and saw the mileage metre. Still, I wasn’t sure. I pulled out my phone and sent a text home saying I’d text when I got to the hotel. If my family didn’t hear from me, something happened.

I got safely to my hotel. On the entire 13 hour flight, I wanted nothing more than to get to the hotel and have a swim. The hotel had a rooftop pool. After sitting on a plane, I needed to move my body. I was in Santiago in May. Our spring in Canada, their early winter. It was 25C when I arrived. I went up to the roof and the doors were locked. I went down to the front desk and was told the pool was closed for the season because it was “too cold”.

After the training we were there to deliver, the project manager wanted to take me out for dinner. He told me I *had* to try a particular drink. He’s travelled the world and they make the best ones here (I wish I could remember the name!). The drinks were good. He kept ordering. I decided if he could drink them, so could I. He was a small man and I figured our ability to handle alcohol would be similar.

I was wrong.

We finally finished our meal. It was about 10:00p.m. As we were saying good-bye, I asked him which way it was to my hotel. He “thought” it was “that way”.

One thing you need to know – I’m directionally challenged at the best of times. Put me in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language, and it’s only amplified. Even moreso when with someone who is as directionally challenged as I am!

I started to walk and soon realized I was not in a familiar neighbourhood. I kept walking. I noticed a group of men starting to follow me. I pulled out my phone and tried to call home. If nothing else, it made it look as though I was in contact with someone.

I ended up in an abandoned parking lot. Fortunately, I had the foresight to keep the name and address of my hotel in my pocket. I showed it to the attendant. He looked at it. He looked at me. He tried to speak to me in Spanish. I simply stared back and shrugged. He did his best mime impersonation to tell me the way I needed to go to get back. Fortunately, it worked.

I stayed on a couple of extra days while there. I knew it was a place I wasn’t likely to return to and wanted to explore.

I bought a pass for the “hop on/hop off” bus. To me, it was a great way to see the city. I could “hop off” wherever I wanted, look around, and know there was another bus coming 15 minutes later.

One of the places I wanted to visit was the “mercado”. It was an open air area in the centre of the city. I visited some of the churches (beautiful architecture), and simply people-watched. I saw a couple of demonstrations and knew enough to avoid them. Only later, upon returning home, did I learn that visiting the mercado as a lone female traveler was probably not the smartest idea.

Leaving the country was a challenge. Apparently, I was supposed to have a yellow form from the paperwork I did upon entering Chile. I didn’t have it. The paperwork I completed didn’t have a copy for me to keep. The security officers didn’t want to let me leave. I pled ignorance. I didn’t know I needed a form, I didn’t have a form. I had my Canadian passport and my boarding pass. Somehow, I was able to convince them I was, indeed, going home.

I’m thankful for the week I got to spend in Chile. I was right – there’s nothing there to draw me back. I’m also thankful for my guardian angels who watched over me. Of all my travels, it’s the one place where things could have gone horribly wrong, and didn’t.

Just me and my dog

Keo as a junior puppy at a dog show, wondering why we are up so early.

I have been part of the dog fancy for over 30 years. My first husband bought me a dog to ‘keep me company’ (in hindsight, that was the beginning of the end). I bought a golden retriever. She was wonderful. I decided to obedience train her and had an instructor who said, “You have a great working dog. Have you considered competing with her?”

Well…that’s all it took. I started obedience, tracking, and rally obedience with her. I then got another golden who was show quality and got into conformation. After goldens, I got into flat-coated retrievers for 22 years. I love that breed, and bred three litters under my own kennel name. I had the #1 flat-coat in Canada in 1999. I think of that dog everyday. He was amazing. I only wish I’d known then what I know now – he and I would have gone even farther.

Fast forward 20 years, and a couple of breeds later, and here I am with Keo. He is my fourth rottweiler. I got into rotties because a very good friend had one I absolutely loved. I told her, “If Ben ever sires a litter, I want a son.” Well, Ben only had one litter and it was all daughters. I was fortunate to get a Ben grandson, Kona.

After having flat-coats, who are an active, inquisitive, extremely intelligent breed – I had a dog whose entire life attitude could be summed up as “meh”. Kona never got too excited about anything. He was a wonderful dog. He helped a few friends get over their fear of rotties because he was so easy-going. He wasn’t the greatest show dog because he just didn’t care. He did it because he loved me, not because he loved showing. He became obsessed with staring at shadows, and would sit through entire movies if animals were involved. Any time anyone pulled out an iPhone or iPad, he’d bump their arms because he wanted YouTube videos of puppies and/or babies.

Makani and Quinn were two other rotties who have shared a life with me. Now, I have Keo.

Keo has a flat-coat intelligence in a rottie body. He is smart, inquisitive, self-amusing, and absolutely loves everyone he meets, especially children. He’s not always an easy dog to live with because he likes to entertain himself, but I love that in a dog. He keeps me entertained.

Keo loves to show. He gets in the show ring and he demands the judge look at him. He’s got “presence”. When I bought him, I knew he’d be my last show dog. I started my show career with a great dog in Riker, and I wanted to end it with Keo.

Imagine my disappointment when, at the age of 2, I get his health clearances done and find he has degenerative joint disease in his elbows. He shouldn’t be used for breeding. So, I had him neutered.

COVID put an end to his show career in 2020. He only needed 3 more points to become a Canadian champion. There was no reason to get the title if he can’t be bred.

I was SO worried he would not adapt to condo living. I’d contacted his breeders and asked them to start finding a home for him. Then, I found this place that allows large dogs. My unit has a walking path behind it. I was concerned he’d bark at everyone and everything on the path. I’d bought a special training collar to use in case it was needed.

Nope. He has adjusted just fine. Sure, he barks at a few – maybe one out of every dozen. There is something about some dogs he just doesn’t like. Fair enough. For the most part, he likes to sit on the backyard deck and watch the world go by.

I’m so happy he’s doing well. I love this dog. It’d break my heart to rehome him, but I’d do what was best for him. Turns out, staying with me is best. He and I have been, and will always be, “Team Keo”. He may no longer be a conformation dog, but we can still compete in obedience, tracking, scent trials, and so much more. With COVID still rampant in my area, we will start with Trick Dog titles we can work on at home.

Just as Riker and I ended up on our own so many years ago, here I am with Keo. It’s just him and me. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Living the Dream

I’ve had a week on my own, and I love it. There is so much gratitude in me.

My son and I have a wonderful relationship. We are adjusting to not seeing each other every day. He’s learning independence and I’m learning to let him have it. He comes over to visit (and eat) every second day. I expect this frequency will diminish over time, but I’m enjoying it while it lasts. I get a heartfelt hug every time he leaves.

I have a fantastic network of friends who have, and continue, to support me. Sometimes, it’s by lending a shoulder to cry on. Other times, it’s giving me a kick in the a** and making me look at things differently. I’m thankful for all of them.

I have an encouraging, loving partner. This relationship is like no other I’ve had. For the first several months I believed it was too good to be true. I kept waiting for the “other shoe to drop”. It hasn’t, and I don’t think it will. It’s still relatively new – only 18 months – and we take it day by day. No expectations for the future; simply enjoying what we have, supporting each other, and defining who we are as individuals and as a couple. Martin, if you’re reading this, I adore you (but you already know that).

I have financial independence. I know many women are stuck in unfulfilling marriages because they can’t afford to leave. Or, if they leave, they suffer financial loss. I don’t have that. I have a great job. I have savings and investments. I may not be able to retire as early as I’d thought, but given how much I enjoy my work, it’s not a hardship.

I have my health. Sure, I have allergies and a couple of autoimmune conditions, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s good. Since my CrossFit gym permanently closed, I’ve started a “10 weeks to 5K” running program. I’m not a runner. I don’t enjoy running. Well, I didn’t enjoy it. That’s starting to change. I look forward to seeing how much longer or faster I get week by week.

For the first time ever – I was able to choose a place to live based on only my wants and needs. I wasn’t convinced I’d enjoy a condo as I love gardening. However, knowing I don’t have to spend free time mowing the lawn, weeding, or shovelling snow is appealing. I can fill my home and outdoor spaces with plants and satisfy my green thumb.

I’m having great fun choosing things for the condo. I can buy what appeals to me, decorate the way I want, and not have to consider anyone else’s likes.

Now that most things are put away, I’m bringing my dog home in a few days. I’m not sure how my 120 pound Rottweiler will adjust to condo life, but we’ll give it our best. He will be my walking/running partner, and my son will take him back to the house so he can play time in the big yard with his favourite purple ball. Keo and I have a strong bond and I’m looking forward to having him spend even more time with me.

I’m sitting here with a smile on my face. Life is good. I’m living the dream.

The Next Chapter

I like the analogy of life as a book with chapters. Some chapters are long, others are short, some are exciting, some you can’t wait to end. Every day is an opportunity to add to your current chapter or start a new one.

I’ve started a new one. I moved into my new home a week ago. I have dreamed of this day for at least five years. If you’ve read my blogs, you know I wasn’t in a good marriage. I didn’t want to disrupt my son’s life as he has a great relationship with his step-dad, so I wanted to wait until he graduated from high school. I couldn’t leave then because my dad still lived with us. When Dad moved into assisted living, there was nothing to stop me.

This new chapter is a time of adjustment. I didn’t think I’d “leave the nest” before my son, but it happened. He’s decided to stay at the house with his step-dad. I get it. All his stuff is there, it’s where he’s comfortable, it’s his home. He visits nearly every second day because, as he’s learning, my ex isn’t much for grocery shopping. The first thing he does when he arrives is go to the fridge, and then the pantry. I don’t mind. Before he leaves, I always get a hug. I commented that he’s hugging me more. “It’s because I don’t get to see you everyday.”

He and I are very close. I think me moving out is a good for him. It helps give him independence from me. He and his step-dad live as roommates. He has a great relationship with his step-dad, but even my son acknowledges I’ve always been the parent. When the time comes for him to move out of the house, he will be better prepared emotionally. Truth be told, as much as I love and miss my son, I’m enjoying the quiet and having a space completely my own.

In this new chapter, I get to put myself first. Maybe it’s something I should have done years ago, but as a wife, mother, and caregiver, it was difficult. Now, there’s nothing to stop me.

I chose a home that suited me and my dog. I’m decorating it in a way that makes ME happy. I love that, eventually, everything will have a place and will be in it. My place will always be clean and tidy. It will be filled with plants. I will do things as they suit me and not have someone telling me I’m doing it wrong or how I could be doing it differently. The people I invite into my home will be those who add to my life, not detract from it. It will be filled with happiness and contentment.

As with any new chapter, I’ve reflected and “reread” previous ones. Those are lived and written; there’s nothing I can do to change them. I’m still processing some thoughts and feelings I have about those chapters, and I’m excited to see where this new one takes me. It’s an emotional time. I’m fortunate to have a supportive partner and wonderful friends.

New job, new home, new exercise program – there’s a huge shift in the energy around me.

It feels good.

Doesn’t “Calm” Come First?

I haven’t been very active in this blog for the past couple of months. My life has taken some unexpected, sudden turns and I feel like I’ve missed the “calm” and have landed firmly into the “storm”.

Some of the storm is physical – my dad moving into long-term care, my roommate deciding to buy me out of our home, finding a new home, getting ready to move, and work projects coming fast and furious.

Some of it is emotional – feeling as though I’ve let Dad down (even though he’s the one who asked to move), angry at my roommate (soon to be ex-husband), frustrated from dealing with him, excited about my new place, sad that my CrossFit gym is permanently closing (thank you Covid), and happy with how things are going in my current relationship.

Some of it is mental – I find myself paralyzed by indecision. I’ve never had the opportunity to purchase and set up a home just for *me*. What do I like? How do I want to set it up? What works for *me*?

I alternate between feeling as though I have everything in order and, like today, feeling as though everything is out of control. It’s uncomfortable.

I try to get comfortable through “to do” lists. I love the sense of completion I get when I can cross something off the list. Thing is, the closer I get to the closing date, the longer the “to do” list seems to grow. It feels like a hurricane increasing strength as it moves towards land.

Will the storm’s strength decrease before it reaches land, or will it hit land and wreak havoc?

I need to stay on top of my self-talk and reflect on what I’m feeling.

Yes, I feel overwhelmed. I need to focus on what needs to be done *right now* and not think too far into the future. What do I need to get done today?…tomorrow?

I need to focus on creating a new home and filling it with things that sustain my physical, emotional, and mental well-being and rather than dwelling on what I’m leaving behind.

I need to remember that – yes – as I pack and realize I have a lot of “stuff”, I don’t have to unpack it all in one day. It’ll be OK to move things and decide it doesn’t serve me anymore. Reduce, reuse, and recycle – I can do that anywhere.

I can peruse Pinterest to get ideas for setting up my new home. Or, I can set up the rooms next week and feel free to change my mind as I live in the space.

I may not have experienced a calm before the storm, but I feel there’s a tremendous calm waiting for me after it.

Letting Go

Do you ever have moments when you sit back, take stock of your life, and grieve because it’s not what you’d planned? I’m going through that now.

My husband and I have separated. We originally agreed to share the house – me living upstairs and him finishing the basement the way he wanted and living downstairs. We’d share the kitchen and laundry on the main floor. Now, he wants to buy out my portion of the house. I know that mentally and emotionally, it’d be easier. Yet, I’m having a hard time letting go.

I wasn’t supposed to be starting over at this age. We were supposed to be easing into retirement in this home we bought together. I’ve spent 8 years creating a backyard oasis. Last year, we put on a 600 square foot deck that is more a work of art than a wooden structure. I had plans to build a fountain, dry creek, and arbor this summer. We have a beautiful south exposure and I enjoy being in the yard.

Even after we separated, I wanted to believe we could truly be roommates. It wouldn’t be much different than how we’ve lived the past few years. Now that I’m not trying to salvage our relationship, I see his true colours. He’s stopped trying, too. I doubt we can even be friends going forward.

I’m looking at giving it all up to move into a condo or townhome. I can’t afford to buy him out if I want to retire at a reasonable age. For the last few years, I’ve had the better paying job. Our agreement was always I’d support the majority now and, because he had more in RRSPs, he’d support the majority in our retirement. Now, I have to uproot my life, pare down and purge, move out before my son leaves the house (he wants to stay in the house where he’s grown up), and give up my dog – not many condos accept a 120 pound rottweiler – no matter how friendly he is! I can’t imagine a life where I don’t have my own yard space and it’s been 32 years since I lived without at least one dog.

I’ve spent the past week or so feeling sorry for myself. Last week, my Dad moved into long-term care. He’s completely lost his sight and, after four years of living with me, I can’t take care of him anymore. I could barely leave the house for more than an hour. I’m also coming up to the two year anniversary of my mom’s accidental death, I lost my job in the fall, and now I’m losing the house and neighbourhood I love.

I’ve been working to reframe my thinking. I am truly experiencing Midlife Arising!!

I get to go into the next stage of my life on my terms. It will be the first time I own a home that is what *I* want. The compromises I make will be based on my wants and needs – no one else’s. I can choose where and how I live. If my son decides to come live with me – that’s fine. But, it will definitely be “my house, my rules”.

The neighbourhood isn’t going anywhere. I won’t live here, but I can visit my friends.

Dad is happy in his new home. He feels safe and his needs are met 24/7.

Will I miss this place? Yes. Will I miss putzing in a yard on the weekends? Yes. Will I miss my dog? Absolutely.

Yet, as scary as it is, it’s exciting. I’m thrilled and sad. I’m eager to see what the future holds, and grieving what I thought it would be.

Change is messy. It’s hard. It hurts. Yet, somehow, when we let go of the past, we come out stronger in the future.

Change is Tough

“The Only Constant in Life Is Change.”- Heraclitus

This quote, along with “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” have been running through my mind a great deal the past while. Do you ever think, “Enough! I’m strong enough! Stop testing me!”?

For the past four years, I’ve been the primary caregiver to my parents. We lost Mom two years ago, and today, I moved my dad into long-term care. I had no idea how difficult the day would be for me. On one hand – he and I are both ready for it. He asked to move. I’m burning out. I know, deep in my heart, it’s the best move for both of us. With his vision loss, he was getting more easily disoriented in the house and it was scaring him. I was responsible for getting his meals, medication, doctor appointments, transportation, and keeping an ear open to make sure he was safe at all times. I couldn’t leave the house for more than an hour or two at a time. We were thrilled when a spot opened at one of the homes we had chosen.

Today was moving day. I thought I’d feel relieved. It’s the last thing I feel. I’m sad because Dad won’t be in the house anymore. As much of a toll as it was taking on me, I feel sad that he won’t be cared for by his family. I feel sad that Dad can’t see what a lovely place he’s at now. He’s got a room that faces the mountains and the airport runway. I know he’s love to sit and watch the planes take off and land. The home has pool tables, plenty of couches for cozy conversation areas, raised gardens outdoors – all things he’d enjoy if he was more able bodied and had his vision.

I’m concerned that he’s going to get disoriented in his new room, despite setting it up much the way he had it at the house. I spent 30 minutes having him walk to/from the bathroom so he felt confident he could find his way on his own. I had to teach him how to “see” with his hands in his new environment – a bit of a challenge for an 83 year old man who is also in cognitive decline.

I worry that he won’t get the care he deserves. I have no reason to believe he won’t, but this is brand new and it’s not me anymore. I need to put faith and trust in others. The people I’ve spoken with the past week, and met today, are lovely people. I’m sure he’ll be well cared for, but I’ll need to hear from him that he’s content.

Dad has to quarantine in his room for 14 days. My niece and I are the only two people who can visit him. His meals and activity workers will spend time with him – but will it be enough stimulation? Will he be bored? How scared is he?

Once quarantine is over, he can leave his room and socialize with others. He will require assistance to get out of his room and into the social areas. Will the staff remember he can’t see? Will they get him out and about? It’s all so new for both of us.

After getting Dad settled and hearing him say, for now, he is happy, we left. I cried all the way home. I feel that I’ve let him down. I know he’d say I haven’t.

It’s tough. Even though it’s a change we were both ready for, and wanted, we’re not prepared for it. Within an hour of getting home, I fell asleep. I can’t remember when I’ve felt this tired. It’s weird not having Dad here. Dinner time came and went. I didn’t have to get him to the table, get his meal ready, and his medication out for him. I don’t hear the TV blasting from his bedroom. There’s an emptiness in the house.

Dad’s move marks the start of more changes. There’s no reason for my roommate and I to live together anymore. I’m free to move. Our mortgage is due and it’s the perfect time for him to buy me out. I’m looking at being a home owner on my own for the first time in my life.

None of this was in the 5 or 10 year plan. Will there ever be a time when my life feels settled, when change isn’t the constant it’s been the past few years? Or, has it always been like this and, as I age, am I simply more aware of it?

So much of how we react to change has to do with mindset and resiliency. Tomorrow, I’ll go back to being a strong, dependable, optimistic woman who can handle whatever life throws at me.

Tonight, I want to be the little girl who misses her dad.

Reflective Moments

It’s the last day of a long weekend, and I’m up so the dogs can be fed. I’m also up to enjoy some solitude in my house. Everyone else is asleep. It’s the only time of day where there is absolute quiet and no expectations of me.

When I invited my parents to live with us four years ago, I had no idea how much work it would be. In my mind, I’d pictured fishing trips with my dad, working together in the yard, and going shopping with Mom when she felt like it.

Little did I know it would become an endless parade of medical appointments, that their health would decline so rapidly, or that Mom would die from a massive head injury sustained from a fall in our garage. In the past year, my Dad started to lose his vision and is failing before my eyes.

So much has changed in the past four years in addition to my parents. My marriage ended. My son graduated high school. I found a new partner. I lost my job, and found another. We’re also one year into a global pandemic.

There are days I’m overwhelmed. Most days, I’m grateful. As much work, and at times frustration it’s been, being able to care for my parents at the end of their lives gave me time with them I haven’t had for years. I moved away from home in my early 20’s and never again lived in the same city. Visits were three or four times a year and weekly phone calls.

The job loss was a blessing in disguise. It gave me time to take stock of where I’m at and where I want to go. I realized I’m not ready to retire, despite how much the idea appeals to me. I learned how much I’d ‘muted’ my true self to try to make the marriage work, and began to bring my ‘self’ forward. I examined what it was about me that made me choose partners who, in the end, were not good matches. I can go forward with new self-awareness.

I do not live a conventional life. When we realized our marriage no longer served us as a couple and acknowledged we were – indeed – roommates, my husband and I opened our marriage. Through that, we both found people who give us the relationships we want. When the pandemic hit, he invited my partner to stay with us on his days off so we didn’t have to rent AirBnbs. Both his partner and mine helped us build our deck.

Yesterday, Valentine’s day was marked by formally signing our separation agreement. We’ve decided to stay in the house together, but separate. I occupy the second floor, and he is finishing the basement to live there. We will share the main floor. This arrangement gives us an economical way to live independently of each other, keep the house we like, the yard we love, and our pets. How long it will last, we don’t know. It works for now.

My day is about to start. I hear Dad coughing in his room. Soon, he will need me to guide him to the kitchen, make his breakfast, and get his medications ready for him. The silence will be shattered by the sound of game shows and “The Big Bang Theory” coming from his TV. When my son wakes, he will start chatting and gaming with his friends. This will carry on long after I go to bed.

I cherish these moments of solitude where I can sit in a sunbeam, drink my coffee, and not have any immediate responsibilities. It’s a gentle way to start the day.