Just because someone asked

I haven’t visited the Candy Jar for a long time.

I haven’t peaked in, checked stats, responded to comments, emails or even Facebook messages.

I’ve pretended the Candy Jar was obsolete.

And, in many ways, it is.

I opened shop when my life fell apart and the only thing that I could understand, and perhaps control, was the written word.

Words in a place controlled by me — nothing came in or went out without my stamp of approval.

I spit fire, bled tears and think I did a lot of growing up.

I grew thick skin and suffered deeply when the layers were slowly peeled off – or were just not thick enough to protect me from my choices.

But, then I grew out of the Candy Jar.

I had a lot of really regular readers.  I loved it here.  A safe space. A supportive space. A land of sweet opportunity and existence that didn’t exist anywhere else.

It was a place that allowed me to exist just enough to not have to be present anywhere else in life.

I was OK blending into nowhere outside of the Candy Jar when I knew I had a platform to be important here.

And maybe because life changed and the winds of reality changed, I found I didn’t really need to live in the Candy Jar anymore to exist.

Today, I wonder if it is because I became comfortable – perhaps safe, knowing I didn’t need – or even want – to be more than a joke and a smile in passing in reality.

And had no more interest in existing as more than that shell of a person.

Other days it is because I think that I have finally found a safe place to exist in life and am finally content.

Either way.

I’m not here.

And was not really sure if I ever intended too.

But, then I received a very direct question today from a friend who said, “You need to start writing again. Why aren’t you?”

I think she followed up by saying, “You ain’t got shit else to do”…but, I digress.

Or perhaps she was saying, “You’re acting really fucking crazy again…maybe you should write your way through the insanity and out of the crazy house.”

ON one hand, I think she is right. I do need to write more.  The less I write, the less intentional I am about the decisions I make in my life.  The less intentional I am, the less I care…apathy takes precedence — which means I am handing away my power to someone else – without really knowing who that person is.

The last 6 months have been strife with the consequences of intentional decisions that I didn’t know how to conclude.

I’ve met people who I shouldn’t have  and haunted many places I shouldn’t be. I’ve made more deals with the devil to get by and get ahead than any educated woman should have to make.

Shit, I’ve made more deals than ANY woman should have to make…or many for that matter.

And perhaps I’ve hidden away from the Candy Jar because how does one write about a reality you don’t really accept you’ve been living?

You don’t.

So, I haven’t written.  And now, I’m not quite sure I have much to write about.

I haven’t fully left the dark corners of life.

And in all honestly, it is a nearly daily struggle to not sink right back into it.

Why leave when the dark is what creates safety?

Why leave when following the rules of society pushed me so deeply into a corner of solitude, destitution, stagnation, defenselessness and hopelessness that my only way to survive was to sit down and let life beat down on me?

Living in the shadows – beyond the lights and rules of the community that condemned me – is a land of opportunity.

Not to get rich.

Not to become famous.

Not to make a mark on the world.   Not to lead. Not to inspire. Not to motivate.

Living is the shadows is a strategy of survival.

To pay the rent.  Buy food.  Make sure my kids don’t realize how destitute life would be if their mother played by the rules.

I have hidden to give my kids a chance at life that the society which claims to protect them has swiped away from them.

I live darkly, in a well-light house in a cute little suburban neighborhood, to live the American Dream.

It isn’t a forever place.

Fuck.  It isn’t even a job.

It’s a mindset and a survivor mentality.

My life is beautiful to the naked eye.

It is inspiring to the astute eye.

It is devastating to those who have seen the truth.

It is only accepted to those who love me beyond my pile of rubble and ash.

But, in the realm of life -

we all live a little bit of devastation to hold up a facade of bliss.

So – to respond…I’m not sure of the future of the Candy Jar.

It makes me a little bit sad to close shop.  It creates a bit of anxiety, in fact, since this is the tiny world that helped me pick up the pieces of the past.

Perhaps it is a place that might allow me to accept the change I need to process to leave behind the destruction of the lingering past, the shadowing of today and tentatively step into an unknown future.

Perhaps.

But as for writing in a public forum where people I know read, appreciate, and say I have ‘made their lives better’ or ‘helped them survive’ — I’m not quite sure I’m qualified.

Or willing.

Or brave enough.

Today,  a lovely man I happened to meet at the park told me, “Hold on to your youth. You are a beautiful, healthy young woman in the prime of her life.  I can see you’re getting tired.  Don’t let life wear you out.  Don’t let life take that last sparkle I can see glimmer when you laugh.  Don’t let your life change you.  It will get better.  Easier. I promise.”

I am tired.

I think life already changed me.

I guess only time will tell how all that fits into the Candy Jar.

As for now.

This is just a pit stop.

Perhaps to show my respects.

Perhaps to vent.

Perhaps to validate.

Perhaps to get me back into the habit of writing.  Nearly three years ago I made the Candy Jar public and sat and wrote every single night.  I wrote before school work. I wrote before grading papers.  I wrote before anything.  I wrote because I knew somehow, some way, it would help me rebuild.

In real life, I’m at a phase of rebuilding.  New relationships.  New jobs. New projects.  New intentions.  New goals.

New is scary to me.  Perhaps my writing today is a reminder to write my way back to a place of bravery.

It worked before.  It might work again.

If I am strong enough to stop hiding.

Step out of the safety of the shadows.

Perhaps, as they say, into the light of a Brave New World.

 

 

 

 

Posted in moving forward | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Flying Pigs…Or at Least a Flying Elephant

DumboSometimes we find ourselves doing things that we never thought we would do.  We find ourselves living and breathing an impossibility that lived beyond the highest mountains and deepest oceans of our fears.  We find ourselves looking the enemy in the face and realizing, “Well shit.  Haven’t times changed.  I’ve been hiding in a cloud of fear that isn’t really the home of fear anymore.  It’s just a cloud…my fear is just an illusion.”

“They” say that time heals all wounds.  And in many regards, I don’t think that “they” could be any farther from the truth.  Time changes our perceptions. Time flattens our emotions.  Time scabs wounds that once bled freely.  But, time doesn’t really heal the wounds in and of themselves.

After three years, I’m still wounded in many ways.  I live quietly in my own shadow more often than not and have cemented the belief that people are not to be trusted.  Instead of believing that people are inherently good, I believe that people try to be good, but, perhaps in their own superessendam modus, do what they need to do to save their own face, disregarding promises or the utmost intentions of good.

Three years later I am still broken.  And there are pieces that will forever remain broken in me – perhaps by choice – but as an active reminder of the impermanence of life, relationships, trusts, value and opportunity.  I guess for many people, these wounds would be a warrior’s call to building lasting and meaningful relationships; a lesson to value what you have and who you have and appreciate them while they last.   For me, the jagged pieces of a life once lived are a reminder that I am alone.  Alone by choice.  But alone.  Alone because I know deeply that when the tornado of life starts to kick up wind and twirl and toss me around in her chaos, I am the only one who can save me and my family.  Me alone.

Because people won’t be there when you need them.

Even when they pledge forever and even when they pledge to always be there to help.

I know they won’t be.

On the other hand, three years later, I am strong.

And that alone is a powerful statement.

I am strong and a survivor.

Independent.

And aware.

And in my near state of solitude, I can say I am content with my life.

I’ll even make a reach and say overwhelmingly content.

After three years of searching furiously, trying to understand and fix my life, I have found an odd place of peace.

I have made choices, many of them unconventional, and many that have created their own torrents of upheaval and heartbreak.

But, I’d make them again.

And what is the culmination, you ask?

That I have finally reached a point where I am no longer looking back.

No longer holding on to the tail of sadness or the thread of bitterness.

I no longer have a red string tied to my finger to remind me of the pain of yesterday.

And that has created a very safe place for my kids.

When I graduated from college, my mom, dad and their ‘others’ along with my little brother and I went out to a celebratory meal.

My little brother, at the end of the meal said, “That was hella awkward, but the only meal I have ever had with mom and dad together.”

My parents had a blow-out, legal nightmare of a divorce that lasted the entirety of my little brother’s life.  I think they divorced when he was three and the battles ended when he turned 18.

I didn’t want that for my kids. I didn’t want to repeat history. I didn’t want my kids growing up knowing that their parents hated each other.  I didn’t want my son, who was 3 when we separated to say at his college graduation, “That was hella awkward, but  the only meal I have ever had with mom and dad together.”

My parent’s divorce was uniquely theirs and they each made decisions they felt were in our best interest as kids.   I don’t judge or pick sides…especially now that I have gone through the same process.

The emotions that come with divorce are overwhelming and destructive. And it is so easy to see how I got swept up, and even driven, by the remaining emotions of loss, bitterness, anger and contempt my parents still had from their divorce that were perhaps reignited and brought back to life during mine. Seeing the clarity of of Divorce in retrospect gives me a different perspective of respect for my parents because I “GET” it now.  And I get it deeply and darkly and in ways I don’t think my siblings, who have never married or had kids, will ever get.

However, now that time has passed, I have also taken a long time to reflect on how I want my kids to think of parents and marriage, and perhaps most importantly, divorce.

Eckhart Tolle once said, “Life will give you whatever experience is the most helpful to your consciousness”

Divorce, and the emotions and the spirals that followed, I believe, were the experiences I needed.

I don’t think that “need” is the correct word, but, I have learned a new way to value the fights of my parents, their choices – and the implications of their choices, and how I fit into it all.  In that circle of value, I have taken really powerful lessons from both of my parents.

Perhaps the most important lesson is that you do what is right for your kids.

So, what is right? And how does that fit in with flying elephants?

Disneyland.

Last weekend, my ex-husband and I took the kids to Disneyland together.

And you know what?

It was good.

I mean, it was horrible with temper tantrums and fighting and the exhaustion of bringing little kids to Disneyland – but it was good.

The ex and I got along fine.

We were good.

There were no fights. There were not harsh words.  There was support.  Kindness. And perhaps a new kind of respect for the roles each of us plays in our kids lives.

It was  big trip.

It was an important trip.

The lesson I want to teach my kids is that even when the people you trust the most let you down, perhaps in devastating and unfixable ways, there is hope.

Life will never go back to the way it was.

And I am not just “ok” with that, I am deeply happy with that.

And the relationship that imploded will never be the same.

But, what can carry on is an appreciation for family.

An appreciation for being together because we have three kids that deserve to have a life with parents who can not just have 1 meal together every decade, but to have a life where it is OK to love both parents.  Where it is OK to be happy with both parents.   Where creating memories can be WITH both parents and not just on “mommy days” or “daddy days.”

It’s a gift.

It is a gift that my kids will not have to live to separate lives they feel like they have to keep secret from the other parents…in an act of protection and love.

My parents gave me a gift through their divorce.  My ex-husband gave me a gift in creating the opportunity to learn from my parents.

This unconventional ‘family vacation’ to Disneyland made me feel like the last three years of emotional turmoil were worth it.  Had I not tumbled and stumbled through life, I might not have realized how important is to make the ‘broken’ family of my kids whole again.

The kids’ dad and I will never get married again.  We will never date. We will never be a ‘thing.’

But, I don’t want my kids to be from a Broken Family.

I don’t want my kids to feel like They are Broken because their parents failed grossly at marriage.

And this trip to Disneyland proves they won’t be.

Their parents aren’t married.  But, their parents can be united as parents.

And if that ain’t what this whole parenting thing is all about, I’m not quite sure what is.

Had we remained married, we never would have been united.

Had we let our egos and the emotions that drive our egos keep us from sucking it up and planning this trip, we never would have been united.

And I’m not predicting smooth sailing and perfection.

But, now I know we can do it.

It seems, that through my journey of learning not to trust people, I’ve learned I can trust in my kids’ future.

And that, my friends, is how I know pigs are flying somewhere.

 

 

 

 

Posted in adulthood, children, divorce, family, marriage, moving forward | Tagged , , , , , | 11 Comments

Stealing the Woodshed

The Candy Jar A few months ago, one of my dear friends posted on Facebook that she is going to the woodshed…and taking a hiatus from social media.

Here is what she wrote,

(and I hope you don’t mind me stealing this!)

Once upon a time, when I was a wee musician my music teacher told me that in order to improve one’s skills, one needs to occasionally take themselves “out to the woodshed.” 

Though I am a bit embarrassed to admit it now, I never understood what this meant. Figuring it didn’t apply to me (a forward-thinking city girl without a woodshed to speak of) I didn’t seek clarification either, and ended up missing out on a huge learning opportunity. 

Until the idiom found its way to me again.

Today, I realized three things: one, a woodshed by definition isn’t simply a place to store wood, but can also mean “a place, means, or session for administering discipline” (as according to Merriam Webster); two, I’m rather slow to learn some lessons; three, if you want something bad enough, you have to make sacrifices. 

In general, I love social media. It has provided me with an observational window to the outside world, and a point of connection for friends both old and new. Within the past seventeen months especially, it has served as my thinking place, my workspace, and my virtual mountain top to scream from when my skin grows too tight to be comfortable in.

But, over the course of these months, I’ve also allowed it to eat up precious time. Something that I do not have in abundance between four kids (three of them school-aged and on the spectrum, and the fourth an adventurous five moth old), a Hero who works full time while growing his own business, and all the obligations I need to fulfill in between there in order to hold it all together–housekeeper and motivational speaker, boo-boo kisser and teacher, chauffeur and entertainer. 

Don’t get me wrong. I love my life. I chose my life, and would choose it again if given the option. However, any time left in my day–that much needed, much desired, prized above all, bit of time reserved for myself, alone? 

Social media filled that time slot. 

My outlets for creativity and deep thoughts and themes and better worlds and beautiful words have been been devoured by this wonderful time suck, and I haven’t had the kind of discipline required to do any more than what I’ve been doing already–working on projects not mine, while letting the guilt chew me apart for filling my writing time with other things.

I know this isn’t about you FB, not really. It’s about me. Your social media numbs with feel good Zimbo quizzes and amusing memes, and within the last seventeen months I’ve recognized my need for diversion as desperation to not think, to not feel, anything that I couldn’t dress up with sensible words to make it easier to live in my own head space. 

Hundreds of thousands of words written on FB, while not a one for the many unfinished projects on my desk. Several books worth of ideas, but only half-hearted attempts in their execution. It seems I’ve been lost for so long now. Something’s gotta give.

So, this is me, taking myself out to the woodshed, you guys. I don’t know when I will return, but expect me to be away for some time. “

Wish me luck.”

So -that take me to here.

About a 4 months ago, I wrote a “Good bye” letter to the Candy Jar.

But.

I never published it and I filled empty pages with Flash Fiction.

Thinking that if I flashed more words on the page, my fingers would remember their purpose and I would begin to write.

And, I’ve flashed.

And, I’ve enjoyed it.

But, then thought it perhaps was time for me to revert to my own little Woodshed as well.

And ever since I’ve just let the Candy Jar empty itself out…follower after follower slowly disappearing.

And escape from social media and the blogosphere for awhile.

But – like most things in life, I can’t commit to that.

Or I haven’t been able to anyway.

I’m afraid that if I lose the premise of being part of something, – even a virtual, mediated, and quite false ‘something,’ I also lose my last tiny strain of attachment to relationships.

Because at this point in my life, a false relationship online is very similar to the relationships I foster in ‘real life.’

And there is this tiny piece of gut that tells me to rebuild a sense of self in the ‘real world,’ I need to disconnect from the fake one.

My life the last 3 years has been a long, endless, painful walk.

A lost marriage that was preceded with lost pregnancies and ideals of family and expectations of future.

A divorce that shattered any pretense of normal and love and trust and hope and forever.

A divorce that shattered my sense of self and value.

And perhaps, most importantly, trust.

And not just because of the man who left the marriage, but because of the friendships I lost, the judgments that were passed, and the dysfunctional legal system that validated years of abuse, inequity and hopelessness.

As I slowly outgrew the shame and even the bitterness my divorce left me with, I grew into a shell.

The shell grew thicker as I protected myself from relevancy with dysfunctional relationships, absurd amounts of work and excuses that allowed me to avoid existing in a truthful and raw place.

As I graduated out of school and was left with nothing but a degree and three beautiful kids and two precious friends, I began to spin profusely out of control.

But, my shell kept my life an airtight place of normal and serenity while I unraveled inside.

As my best friend would say, “We fuck up. We stand up. We move the fuck on. That’s what humans do.  Deal.”

And I need to deal.

Deal with my empty shell.

Not to fill it.

Filling it now means filling it with toxic people and dysfunction.

And I need less.

Less people.

Less dysfunction.

I guess it is finally time I deal with my graveyard.

I guess it is finally time to deal with the remnants of life I have been tip-toeing around and the un-bury the skeletons I thought I had buried so well.

And to do all that, I think that it means returning to the proverbial woodshed.

Return to a place of “administering discipline”

A place to shut the doors and come to terms with the dark corners I have brought myself to over the last 10 months.

In fact…11 months exactly this month is when I began my most recent slide into Never Never Land.

So. It’s time for me to move on.

I think that the life of the Candy Jar has run its course.

It was a platform for me to find peace during a period of turmoil and loss.

I’ve met amazing women.

I can’t deeply thank Red for throwing out the initial lifeline and for keeping me afloat for so long.

I can’t thank the most amazingly beautiful, powerful and inspiring Val for the nonstop support and virtual hugs and invitations and kicks in the ass when I need them.

Two women who continually remind me to “Stand the fuck up” and move on all the time.

And over the last few months…the months in which I have stayed miles away from the Candy Jar, I realized that I needed to write to hack through life.

So – I’m back.

Potentially.

Fearful as I know some of the people who have betrayed me deeply read.  I know that people who I learned to love and trust have ripped off the top layer of skin I grew over the last few years. The  hard-earned scar-tissue that was allowing me to learn to not only trust myself and my judgement – but trust anyone.

I teach my students that the only way to overcome irrational fear to to face it.

So – here I am.  In an attempt to build my loyal and robust readership back up from the dust.  I am here in an attempt to once again lift myself out of a shattered reality and try again.  Dust myself off…pick the tiny pieces of glass out of my knees and the soles of my feet and walk on.

The people that hurt me and read this are grossly aware who they are.  My guess is that there is denial.  My guess is that there are fingers pointing at me – blaming me for yet another downward spiral.

But – the woodshed isn’t the place for me.   Withdrawing and finding new balance won’t work if I am withdrawing in fear.

I have found comfort in words.  I have found comfort in my blogging community.

So – I am reaching out.

It is an open invitation.

The Candy Jar is back open again and I can only hope people come to visit.

Posted in blogging, Fear, Women, writing | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Flash Fiction: Figures

benchIn the distance I could only see figures; not able to make out faces or the names of the two bodies resting on each other.

Their shoulders were slumped and necks uncomfortably bent…stacked almost like a layer cake switching between boney shoulder layer with heavy head topped with boney shoulder.

I walked closer.

Curious as to what made the bodies melt into each other so precariously.

Love?

Old age?

Just death.

Death.

 

Welcome to the Winter Quarter with a new series of flash fiction coming your way! Brought to us by the beautiful Red of the M3 blog and Flash in the Pan

The word for this flash is FIGURES with a word limit of 75.  This flash comes in precisely at 75.

hashtag with #getpublished #flashfiction @RedmundPro

Posted in blogging, Flash in the Pan, writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Flash Fiction: Surboard

surfyogaPure simplicity.

Sun and waves, sand the crisp smell of salty sea water.

Early mornings were the best….

That magical moment when the sun would peak over the farthest point on the sea-lined horizon.

Laying quietly on my surfboard, appreciating the gentle give and take of the pre-dawn ocean tide.

Soaking in the birth of a new day.

Inhaling new morning air.

Exhaling renewed hope.

A new chance.

A new perspective.

A new me.

 

Welcome to the Winter Quarter with a new series of flash fiction coming your way! Brought to us by the beautiful Red of the M3 blog and Flash in the Pan

The word for this flash is SURFBOARD with a word limit of 75.  This flash comes in precisely at 75.

hashtag with #getpublished #flashfiction @RedmundPro

Posted in blogging, Flash in the Pan, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Flash Fiction: Motorcycle

motorcycleShe was proudly showcased in the garage.

Chrome buffed and polished to a glimmering shine.

The bold red paint and black leather were tended with gentle hands in quiet caresses.

I never understood how the callused hands that left hidden bruises could be so tender.

Sometimes I was jealous of that motorcycle.

Most of the time?

Because when the engine roared to life and carried him down the road I could finally, fearlessly, breathe.

 

Welcome to the Winter Quarter with a new series of flash fiction coming your way! Brought to us by the beautiful Red of the M3 blog and Flash in the Pan

The word for this flash is MOTORCYCLE with a word limit of 75.  This flash comes in precisely at 75.

hashtag with #getpublished #flashfiction @RedmundPro

Posted in blogging, Flash in the Pan, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Flash Fiction: Soldiers

SoldiersPeeking out from the hotel room, I could see stretches of soldiers for miles lining the streets. How is it, I wondered, that a day to celebrate liberation and freedom from oppression and military rule, is centered on a parade starring the people who oppressed us in the first place?

Why were the streets flooded with children and parents waving flags and eating cakes celebrating?

Couldn’t anyone else see what was wrong with this picture?

 

Welcome to the Winter Quarter with a new series of flash fiction coming your way!brought to us by the beautiful Red of the M3 blog and Flash in the Pan

The word for this flash is SOLDIER with a word limit of 75.  This flash comes in precisely at 75.

hashtag with #getpublished #flashfiction @RedmundPro

Posted in Flash in the Pan, writing | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments