Prayer Request….or, Well Wishes…

You guys, this is going to be one of those blog posts that I am probably writing more for myself. I have so many things going on in my mind I need an outlet.

I need a job. We are two weeks out from the start of school, and I still do not have a job. I am kinda freaking out.

For those that don’t know, I am trying to get a job in the school district. Either as a Para, or Office Assistant. Rumor has it there is a Para shortage in the district, yet no matter how many jobs I have applied for (12) I still do not have one. In a few cases, I did not even make it past the application screening phase.

The plan was, in June, I would start applying for jobs. I took the Para test and actually passed. I was good to go, but something is just not clicking.

Maybe because all I have under my belt is three-year volunteer experience? It is depressing and worrisome. There is no Plan B. I was so confident I would have a job by now, and I don’t.

I honestly have no idea what to do. Every single day, I have my application open on my desktop, on the district website. I am constantly checking for new job postings, and I am just not getting anywhere.

I pray. I really do. I pray and ask for God’s guidance. I ask him to bring me the right job. I am just one of those people who does not know how to NOT worry. Know what I mean?

Seriously, I was up at 6:00 am ON A SUNDAY checking for new job postings. I am only allowed to apply for twelve jobs at once, and I am telling you I have applied for every single Para position as well as office positions.

I am getting scared. I am doubting myself. Perhaps I was overly confident?

I believe in God. I believe in having Faith, and I believe God sees the bigger picture. I know all this, but for some reason, I am still struggling. It is so hard for me to have blind faith. And then, I find myself asking myself, “Do I deserve this?”

I am an “okay” person. I have made a lot of mistakes, but have also asked for forgiveness. Are we always forgiven?

I feel like such a failure. I cannot even find a job. You guys, I cannot find a job in a district that HAS A SHORTAGE of the exact position I am applying for. One day I hope to laugh about this.

So, in closing, here is the thing…..

If you believe in God, I ask for your prayers. I humbly ask that you put me on whatever prayer request list you may have. My situation is a little different, I need a job in the school district so I have the same hours the kids do. Please, you have my permission to put it out there, I am openly praying and asking for God to bring me a job.

If you do not believe in God, I ask for your well wishes and good thoughts. Please send me whatever it is you have to offer.

If you are a potential employee who came across this blog post because, you know, social media, I ask that you give me a chance. I may not have the fancy credentials of what you are looking for, but I have hands-on experience. Give me a chance. I will beg if I have to, give me a chance, and a year from now, you will find yourself saying “hiring Mrs. Pedro was the best thing we have ever done!”

(See, there I go being overconfident again!)

Please, listen to this song. Beautiful perfection for those of us who do not feel so beautiful or perfect.

 

 

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“Nancy”

A.J is my oldest. In many ways, he and I have grown up together because I did have him pretty young. When he was in middle school, he went through a tough time and ran away for about eight hours.

I was pregnant and on bed rest. AJ would get out of school first, then pick up Vinnie from elementary. I would meet both boys outside on the porch, knowing that they were home safe.

One day, just like any other day, I went to my porch. I see both boys walking. Everything looks to be fine. Instead of both boys crossing the parking lot to the apartment,  AJ makes sure Vinnie makes it safely up to the porch, then he takes off. No word, no “I will be back soon” nothing. He just leaves.

Immediately I start to worry. Very out of character for him. I wake Joe up (he was working nights at this time) and tell him what happened. Joe gets dress and goes looking for AJ while I question Vinnie. Vinnie was so young at the time. There is a seven-year AJ difference between the boys.

Hours go by and there is still no AJ. I called the police. The police come over, asked for pictures, looked around the apartment and told Joe and I they would keep an eye out, and after forty-eight hours, they would classify him as a runaway.

I was not having that. Six months pregnant with a high-risk pregnancy, I took matters into my own hands. I pulled on my coat, told Joe to keep an eye on Vinnie and not let him know what was going on. Joe was worried and did not want me to go. I am a fighter though, and when my children are at risk, nothing will stop me.

Nathan. Nathan and AJ have been friends since elementary school. Nathan is a good kid who had a shitty start in life. His mother committed suicide, his father in jail. Nathan’s grandmother was raising both Nathan and his sister. I knew exactly where Nathan lived and made the quick five-minute drive over there.

Maybe it was the stress, maybe the fact that I was high risk, I do not know, I was not feeling good. However, I was on a mission. I knew I had it in me to keep my oldest and youngest child safe and that was my only goal. I pull up to Nathan’s house, make my way through the long knee-length grass that was in desperate need of being cut, and knock on the door.

Eventually, Nathan’s grandmother, Nancy, opens the door. We only know each other through word of mouth. It just so happens she is a substitute teacher at Vinnie’s school. All I had to say was “Hi, sorry to bother you I am….”

And she knew.

“Of course, I know you come on in.”

She directs me to her dimly lit living room. I take a seat on the sofa, while she sits directly across from me. All of a sudden, I am surrounded by cats. Cats at my feet, cats on my lap. Everywhere I looked, there were cats, which, naturally put me at ease. It is only then that I pick up on the scent of litter boxes that need to be clean.

I ask her about AJ. I tell her I do not know where he is and ask if she has seen him or if Nathan has said anything.

Nancy tells me that she sees AJ often. She tells me he is a good kid who struggles because his own father abandoned him. She understands because, in many ways, her own grandson is going through the same thing. She assures me everything will be fine, and as hard as it is, to try to give AJ the space he needs to work this out.

I do not know if it was the authority of her words or her own experience, but I knew she was right. I knew AJ just needed a bit of time because his bio sperm donor is a lying piece of shit who has always chosen everyone else before his own son. Pretty hard stuff when you are a preteen boy.

Just like Nancy said, AJ came home late that night. We talked, we gave him his space, and we let him know that his crappy ass father is no reflection on him.

Before we knew it, life resumed back to “normal.” Nathan quickly became an even bigger presence in our life. Halloweens we would take Nathan with us trick-or-treating. Thanksgivings, Nathan would spend with us. On a few occasions, Nathan even came with us to my in-laws’ house. And please no, this is no reflection of the grandmother. She was getting old and it was just hard for her to get around like she used to.

As the years go on, both my boys remain close with Nathan and his grandmother. I send food over when I can, I give Nathan a place to crash when need be. I do what I can, and many times it was not enough.

AJ called me tonight. Crying.

It seems that Nancy is not doing too well. She only has days left. Hospice has been called, and Nathan, who now has two children of his own, is hopping on a bus from Olympia to make it here in time to say “goodbye.”

Nancy, God bless her soul, is one of the strongest women I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. She literally sacrificed it all for her grandchildren. She is a Spitfire. She is the epitome of strength, and even though many years have passed, we will all come together on her last days and honor her.

As of the writing of this post, Nancy passed away. Sadly, Nathan did not make it in time. He is here now though, spending time with AJ, and we will do what we can to help him through this difficult time, just like Nancy helped me all those years ago.

Sadly, in the end, there were not many people in Nancy’s life. I hope in some small way, you can all get a sense of the epitome of strength Nancy was.

Rest In Love, Nancy.

 

“Traveled down a road and back again”

I could’ve done without today for many reasons. One being, I almost died again. If you didn’t hear about the first time, go back a few blogs, it’s there.

 Needless to say, I called my best friend, my confidant, my therapist, my partner in crime…Jen.

“You are not going to believe what happened!”

“What? Did you try to exfoliate and shave your eyebrows off again?!”

God no. I learned my lesson on that one. Never exfoliate with a razor in the shower because something bad is bound to happen like losing an eyebrow or two.

“I almost passed out in the fricken grocery store. My blood sugar, again.”

Long story short, I didn’t eat, went to the busiest grocery store this side of the Mississippi and almost passed out in line. The “significant other” was somewhere scratching lotto tickets as I began to wobble in the checkout lane. I made it out, ate some jelly packets that I had stolen from a recent restaurant visit and felt better. The “significant other” had to deal the wrath of a very hungry, irritated, not to mention hot, woman that was ready to morph into a beast of some sort.

Jen listened, the way she always does. Pointing out the comedic aspects as well as what to do in case a future hypoglycemic attack comes on because like a million other things we have in common, she also has low blood sugar at times.

“If you need to carry a goddam lunch pail, that’s what you do!”

So, tomorrow I am headed to Wal-Mart to find a “lunch pail”.

There was a time that I didn’t have Jen and her infinite wisdom in my life.

For those that read our B-303 series, know that we had a falling out about 2002ish when I left the apartment and never looked back.

Until I found out I was pregnant with my daughter.

Jen was the first one I told.

It didn’t matter that we hadn’t talked in months or that we had differences of opinion on her then current relationship. That all didn’t matter because I needed my best friend at that moment and she was there.

Fast forward to 2004. I had moved to Eastern Washington when I was about 6 months pregnant with my son, Jen was about 3 months pregnant with Gracie. Because of both of us dealing with complex life issues, we didn’t talk for months. Yet, when I came out of my surgery from my C-section, guess who was there…Jen.

People come in and out of our lives, with no real rhyme or reason.

Some come back to reconnect, just like Jen and I did a million years ago, and some come back because a certain best friend decided on a straight vodka night to friend request them on Facebook.

I have qualms about the latter, but I will save that for another blog.

Most recently, I have had someone from the past come back into my life after many years. I was both happy yet on guard because you never know people’s ulterior motives. I watch Dateline and the ID channel. Knowing my luck, I would reconnect with someone and end up swimming with the fishes.

Despite my initial hesitation, I have been pleasantly surprised at getting to reconnect with this person.

I have found that with someone people, no matter how complicated the history, it is as if no time has passed.

Just as with life, I don’t know if this person will stay or go at some point, but as with all people that have come and gone, an imprint of them will always remain in who I am.

Time changes everything and nothing.

Just like time has changed both Jen and me as individuals, however, time will never change the friendship we’ve shared for the last 17 years.

Time of Your Life

Today is Joe’s birthday. Joe took the day off from work, not to celebrate his birthday, but because he hates when people wish him a “Happy Birthday.” He does not want it acknowledged, nothing. So, naturally, the girls and I picked him out some Philidelphia Eagle gear. It’s almost comical watching how uncomfortable he gets. Even with is own children, you can tell his reaction is awkward. The only sincere reaction I have ever seen from him on Birthdays is when my parents send him a card with some cash.

“What? They did not have to do that. They are good people. You have to send it back to them.”

And then that starts another huge debate, which goes a little something like this. “Have you not met my parents. Take it, they want you to have it.”

I am blessed to have both wonderful caring parents and a husband.

Joe took the girls to breakfast and the mall this morning. A little Dad and Daughter one on one time, while I caught up on much-needed sleep.

Once they return home, I get an earful.

Sofia~ Mom, I know it may seem I am in a bad mood but I am not. I ate so much at Denny’s! It was so good I could not tell my tummy no. I just need to sleep.

Joe~ Ummm, when did Gracie get a black eye?

Gracie~ Will THIS go away before school starts? (pointing to her black eye)

So…to recap, apparently there was some sort of late-night incident with the girls. Depending on which one you ask, they have a different version of events. Last night, at an undisclosed time, Sofia kicked Gracie in the face. Evidence is pointing to accidental. However, the black eye made it’s appearance today, while Joe had the girls…..in Bath & Body Works, searching for lotion.

I called Christin. She has been crazy busy the last week. Just got back from a vacation at the Oregon coast, and now needs a vacation from her vacation, while trying to get her kids ready for school while navigating work. So, what better time to call, right?

Me~ Hey! You busy?
Christin~ No, hold on I need to take the batteries out.
Me~ Huh?
Christin~ Hold on, I need to take the batteries out of my personal affairs so I can turn the music down.

(Long, awkward, pause)

Christin~ Okay I am back.
Me~ Do you need me to call you back?
Christin~ No, I had to switch the batteries from my……..(muffled conversation)
Me~ YOU HAD TO TAKE THEM OUT OF WHAT???????
Christin~ (laughing) my personal fan, what is wrong with you???

(Another long pause)

Me~ Oh……okay. I get it. I thought you said you had to take the batteries out of your “personal affair” and, ummm, you know, I thought it was weird, but now I get it!

I am now on a three-day ban from calling Christin.

My beloved NY GIANTS had their first pre-season game tonight. Eli, their quarterback, got sacked two times in the first quarter. They played the Browns. If you are familiar with football and my love for the hard-to-love GIANTS, you can feel my pain and confusion.

I am just happy we are back in football season, which to me, is the start of the holiday season! After pre-season, the weather starts to cool off for most of us who are not living in Texas. School is back in session, pumpkin spice everything is at our disposal. Before we know it, jeans and hoodies, boots and scarfs will be here along with crisp Autumn air, and plans for Halloween. Sofia already knows what she wants to be. I am still trying to wrap my mind around it. Pikachu.

There are also big changes on the horizon. I have a very close family member who is running for Congress, yet, at this very moment, he is in Texas preparing for his mothers funeral. Sad times. This is a strong woman who I have had the pleasure of meeting. I have been in her home before while she served me authentic German food and ordered me to “eat!” I will pray for a peaceful passing for all involved.

Today, while Joe and the girls had an early start to their day, and by early I mean the mall was not even open yet, I was in and out of sleep. I caught wind of Vinnie coming and going. Once I awoke at a normal hour (up and going by 9 with coffee in hand) Vinnie comes home with a nice new haircut.

My first thought is, what kind of Barber is open at this ungodly hour? My second thought was “Am I the only night owl. It is 9:00am and I am struggling, meanwhile, Joe and the girls have been gone for at least an hour. At least my cats are on the same page as I am.

So, Vinnie comes in, and he looks good. This new haircut suits him. I am drinking my coffee, scrolling through Facebook, watching Vinnie, who does not have to be at work for another six hours. Gone are the days when he would ask me for a ride. He got himself to his Barber, paid for his own haircut, and is now home doing his chores while I have not even made it out of my pajamas yet. I am proud of him.

Many times the topic of conversation between Christin and I is how she cannot wait for her daughter to learn how to drive. 95% of Christin’s day is spent driving her kids too and from. My girls are not at that point yet. It will come soon enough, but not yet. Meanwhile, Vinnie, who is only two years older than Christin’s daughter is kinda killing it at this whole life, school, work thing.

As I make a new pot of coffee, while telling Vinnie how much I love his new haircut, I make a mental note. I need to talk to Christin. I need to let her know, cherish these days where you have to play chauffeur to your kids, because, before you know it, you will wake up one lazy morning and realize your kids have a better sleep schedule than you do, and, they won’t need you anymore to run them around. So…enjoy it now, savor every moment of the sleep-deprived drives to the lake and Walmart, because, in a blink of an eye, they will be doing it without you.

This, my forever best friend, this is the time of your life.

 

 

 

 

I almost died today…

Today I almost died. I think I saw the white light or maybe it was just the reflection of the blazing hot sun, either way, death was near.

Between the heat, doing the low-carb diet, or not having chocolate for almost a week, I knew this was the end for me.

I contemplated calling my mom or 911, even maybe writing a quick memo on how my cats needed to be tended to once I was at the pearly gates.

For a moment, I took a quick inventory on how clean my house was just in case the paramedics needed to scoop me up out of here.

 Is the kitchen mopped?

How many dishes are in the sink?

Shit, I forgot to clean out the litter box yesterday, so now I can’t call 911!

All of these thoughts flying through my head like a ping-pong ball.

 The room is spinning, while my cat lays next to me, looking at me like “Why did you stop scratching my ears?”

Enter my teenage daughter.

“Mom, can you take me to Wal-Mart?”

“Umm, No, I am dying!”

“No, you aren’t mom. You are so dramatic.”

“Can you get me a wet washcloth?”

“Do I look like your maid?”

She leaves the room, just as the cat decides to depart as well.

Lying on my bed, thinking about all the things I didn’t get to do in my short 38 years of life.

Swim with the dolphins

Go to Jamaica

See the Northern Lights

Skydiving

There are more but you get the gist.

Enter my son.

“Mom, my Xbox Gold ran out! You need to renew it!”

“ I can’t right now! I think I’m dying.”

“Whatever, mom.”

As reality set in, I would die here alone, no kids, no cats, no beach in Jamaica…

I contemplated a call to Jen.

“Hey what are you doing?”

“I am dying.”

“What happened? Did you try to run around the block again?”

“No…”

At which point she would recap the story of the time we tried to “run” around the apartment building back in Apt B303, 17 years ago, because we were trying to get into shape. We ended up half-way around before she started coughing her lungs out and as my knee-caps were about to fall off.

Calling Jen was a no-go.

Instead, I called another friend of mine, who is very Zen and centered, everything Jen is not.

“Hey, I think I’m dying.”

“Hold on, let see, did you try, A, B, C, D, E?

“I am working on it. It could be the heat, or maybe I ate something bad. The chicken I cooked last did look a little pink.”

“You are going to be fine. Probably just dehydrated. Here are some meditation videos to help relax you.”

After having some sugar and a few meditation sessions, I was feeling better.

The good news I didn’t die today.

The bad news is there are still floors to be mopped, dishes to do, and a litter box to clean out.

I will most likely have a trip to Wal-Mart in the near future and I will pull out my debit card and “renew” this game thing.

Come to think about it, maybe the other option wasn’t so bad after all.

Christin

 

Birthdays

I dropped Vinnie off at work 3pm, then made my way to the bank. Right before my turn, I get a call. “Mom, the Chef messed up, he does not need me until 5.” Instead of turning left, I made a quick, messy, U-turn, heading back to pick Vinnie up. “No Mom, it’s cool, I can wait until 5.” There was no way I was going to have him wait two hours just to start work. Plus, I was just up the road. “I will pick you up, but you are coming with me to run my errands.”

At the grocery store, I had a list. A very specific list that included cat food, ice cream, vodka, and something for dinner. Vinnie and I are walking around the store, somewhat at a fast, brisk pace.

“Mom, that’s a rip-off. Seven dollars for strawberry’s?!”

“Look at the sign, it is two for seven.”

“There’s like a strawberry place up the road where you can go pick them yourself!”

I find it both funny and endearing now that he is making his own money, he pays attention to the price tag.

“No, those are blackberries and no one keeps up with it. The field is dry and gross.”

This pretty much sums up our exchange during the forty-five minutes we were in Fred Meyer.

“Nine dollars for a frozen pizza? The cheap ones are 2.99!”
“Gracie can’t eat the cheap ones, she needs gluten-free.”
“So let me get this straight, it cost more money to make sure your kid eats healthy?”
“You catch on quick!”

I would say it was an unexpected learning experience for him and a good one at that.

While in line, Vinnie and I are watching the two teenagers ahead of us arguing with the cashier over some makeup that was supposed to be half off. Looking at the young girl, with different bills in her hand, I already knew she was on a strict budget. She probably had the exact amount of money for her makeup, nothing more, nothing less. I was on a time limit, and getting annoyed that they were arguing over four dollars. I reached my hand into my purse, ready to dig out the difference in the leftover quarters I had accumulated for Vinnie’s bus money.

“Mom! Don’t you have a birthday coming up?”

The cashier gave the young girls the four dollar discount.

“Ummm, let me think, oh yeah it was on Wednesday!”

I despise birthdays.

……

When I turned thirty, that one, that birthday was a shit-show. I got fired and found out I was pregnant all in the same day. It was horrible. Joe, well, Joe is great about being supportive, and always having a plan to fix things. What he is not so good at is birthdays. My friend, Amanda, came over after she heard I was fired. Actually, the icing on the non-existent birthday cake, both Christin and I were fired on the same day. So Amanda comes over to see how I am doing, not even realizing that Christin was fired as well.

“Jen! I am so sorry this happened to you, and on your birthday too?! Get dressed I am taking you out!”

Are you familiar with how a deer looks in headlights? The deer, innocently crossing a road, and before he knows it he is face to face with the headlights on a car that will determine his fate. This was Joe’s look.

“Wait, it’s your birthday?”

Amanda looks at me, bewildered.

“Yes, it is my birthday, I do not want to talk about it!”

Joe gets up from playing the x-box. Reaches for his wallet, and gives me some money.

“Here, Happy Birthday! Go out with your friend and have a good time.”

Naturally, I threw a fit.

“No thank you! I am not a whore!”

And with that, I left in a dramatic Oscar worth performance and went to my room to cry.

……

By the time I turned thirty-something I already knew how this whole birthday thing was going to go. It wasn’t. It would be up to me to plan something with the kids and Joe, and quite frankly, I just did not have the energy to plan my own birthday. What I did have the energy for was to finally take the good ole Botox plunge. It had been something I had been thinking about for a long time. I did my research, saved up some money.

On the day of my birthday, I made sure Joe and the kids knew I had a doctor’s appointment for “female things.” No one questioned it. I had my appointment and honestly, never felt better. This was my well deserved present for myself. And even though Dr. Rex, an older gentleman, who was a little heavy-handed on the Botox for himself, he did a wonderful, subtle job on me. I knew, one way or another, this was something I would keep up with.

……

As the years went on, I was not able to keep up with my Botox. It was just too much money for what was going on on the home front, and I was okay with that. Birthdays, they still were a “hit or miss.” Some years, Joe would remember and come home with a well picked out card and chocolate. Other years, he would not remember it was my birthday until he received his own birthday card from my own parents in the mail…..three weeks after mine.

“Oh, they did not have to do that, wait….did I miss your birthday?”

I feel like I am now a pro at this.

“Yes you did, it’s okay, we can call it good if you wash the dishes.”

I mean I still have to get something out of this, right? Many times he would try to give me the birthday money that my parents sent him, “I feel bad, just go buy something!”

But, for me, it was never about buying something. Plus, my parents remembered my birthday and had already sent me my own birthday goodies.

……

This birthday. It was not much different. The Sunday before my birthday, I talked to Dad on the phone.

Dad~ “So, you have a birthday coming up this week?”
Me~ @*$% ($*%&#^@!!

I was over it. There is too much pressure. Pressure that I admittedly put on myself, but still pressure.

First, there is the fifty plus “Happy Birthday” post on Facebook. Which I feel I have to answer each one individually. If these people, my friends, and family took the time to write on my wall, then in my mind I figured the very least I can do is respond to each one individually.

Next, it’s my kids. I feel silly telling them “I have a birthday coming up!” I do not want them to feel pressured into getting me anything, especially since only two of my children work, and the other two, the two that would most likely want to do something, can’t. So I never say anything. I used to hope that Joe would give them the heads up “Mommy has a birthday this week, let’s draw her a picture.” But, Joe has the memory of a shoe, so I was not banking on much.

This is where I need to take a page out of Christin’s book. Every year, without fail, shortly after midnight on the day of our birthday (we happen to share the same birthday) she wakes her family out of their slumber and plays 50 Cent’s “It’s Your Birthday!”

I know this goes over well with her family, as I have been on the phone listening to how her significant other threw his hip out because the music was too loud and woke him out of a quiet slumber.

……

Thursday morning, the day after my birthday, we had an early start. Gracie was scheduled to have an MRI done. Her Neuro wanted to compare a new MRI to an older one to see if there had been any changes. The goal is, no change. This MRI would be a bit more challenging in the sense that Gracie would not be sedated. And, something as simple as “Gracie, you cannot move.” She will not understand it. In fact, she did not understand it. She asked me “Mom, am I allowed to blink?” She was not trying to be funny, she was serious. This is how the mind of an autistic child works.

Before Joe and the girls and I headed out to her MRI,  Joe called all of us together. Right by our foyer, with our belongings in hand, and Vinnie close by, Joe says “Okay, let’s do a quick family prayer.”

The kids and I are giving each other looks as we gather in a circle, join hands and ask God to be with us all today.

We said our good-byes to Vinnie with the promise of texting him to let him know what was going on. Before we hit the road to Tacoma, we stopped at one of my favorite coffee shops. Sofia and I put our order in while Joe and Gracie waited in the car.

As we are waiting for our order, I am looking around the coffee shop. Nervous, but trying to play it off so Sofia would not worry.

There on the counter next to the cream and sugar and stacks of newspapers was a jar, a big glass jar. On this jar was a note that read…

“If you need prayer for anything, family, friends, home/work place finances, etc, B&R would love to pray for you. Just write it down and put it in the jar.”

In that moment, I knew. I felt Joe’s prayer, I felt the prayers from friends and family across the United States. In that moment, birthdays and lack thereof were the furthest thing from mind. I knew, everything would be okay.

And, it was.

There was absolutely no change in her MRI.

I could not have asked for a better birthday present.

~Jennifer

prayer request

 

 

 

Love, In The Trenches

My life and Christin’s intertwine on a daily basis. We are constantly on the phone or texting. 

“Have to drop Kharizma off at her driving class, call you when I get home.”

“Dropping Vinnie off at work, give me twenty.”

“Washing dishes, talk to me I am bored!”

“I need help with an email.”

“I need help with an application.”

Before noon, it is safe to say we have spoken on the phone at least three times. This is how we roll.

Except, this weekend was different. Life took us in different directions, and this, well, this was each of our takeaways.

The Four Loves

Jen sent me an article the other day, and for whatever reason, it resonated with me. I will post a link of the article down below, but I will give a quick summary.

We only fall in love three times in our life, each time is for a specific reason. The reasoning behind the first is the idealistic love, the love that finds us at a very young age. It is the fairytale love that we grow up thinking about, although it holds a very special place in our hearts, it wasn’t the one that we were going to end up with. Although there are exceptions for this, one being my grandparents who met at age 15 on a hayride and proceeded to be married for 54 years. I’m sure all those years weren’t easy, but they made it work until the untimely passing of my grandma. Point being, some are lucky to find and stay with their first love, most of us are not.

The second time we fall in love is meant to teach us the lessons. It is to show us what we want and what we don’t want, it is often like riding a rollercoaster of emotions. Often, this love is filled with hurt, lies, and manipulation. I am sure some of you are wondering how love and lies can be in the same sentence, but this love is Hard Love, it is often unhealthy and addictive in some ways. We have all had those second loves. The ones where we are so focused on making it work, we lose ourselves in the process.

Now for the third love, listen closely. This love happens when we least expect it. This love doesn’t look like what we had thought it would. It’s a connection that is often unexplainable, real, and fitting. It’s like coming home.

As I reflect on my own experiences with falling in love, I am reminded that no matter where you are in the “love” game, it can be emotionally taxing, but it can also be the best experience of your life.

The first time I really fell in love I was 19 years old. This person was everything I wanted and more, however when you are that young and naïve, you don’t really know what you want. I wanted freedom and adventure, he, however, did not. Adventure won out, and so was the end of my first love. My second time falling in love was much more complicated. It was unexpected but something I thought I wanted. Turns out, it is only what you “think” it is, not the reality of what it really is. The third time I fell in love, the connection was beyond explanation. This love allows me to be who I am without any fear. This one is encouraging, supportive, and encompasses everything that I ever wanted in another human.

This blog isn’t really about me though. It’s about you.

 Wherever you are at in your life, whether you are on your first love or tenth love, it isn’t about the number of loves you have or haven’t had. I think the first real love must be with yourself.

If you don’t love you, how do you expect someone else to?

It isn’t always easy to love yourself. Have you heard the saying “You are your own worst critic?” Well, it’s true. We all have insecurities that plague us with doubt and hesitation. Those voices in the back of our head that remind us that we are not good enough, pretty enough, strong enough or capable enough. You know what I am talking about. These voices make it hard to accept and love ourselves, despite our idiosyncrasies and flaws. It’s really a process, I think. Maybe you fake it till you make it. However you decide to love yourself, I know it is an ever-changing, one day at a time type situation. It’s a struggle, something I know very personally. It only has been over the last couple of years that I have really worked on being kinder to myself. It wasn’t easy at first, but as time goes by, I feel like I am beginning to just accept myself as is.

 I am no expert; however, I am an observer.

 I have recently seen some relationships for whatever reason, going through some difficult times. Some will stay together, some will not. My hope for those that don’t stay together is that they know that love will find them. Maybe the third, fourth or fifth time is a charm. To give up on finding love is to cut ourselves short of both wonderful and fulfilling experience. Each time we fall in love, we open ourselves up to a possibility of betrayal and hurt, but we also can allow ourselves to receive unconditional love which allows for both personal growth as well as a deeper connection. It’s scary, I know. I have had my own ups in downs in past relationships, hell, we all have. But if you can just do it one more time, then all those failed relationship and heartaches will be worth it.

 My hope for you is that you learn to love yourself first that way whatever love is heading your way, you can really let it in because you know, we all deserve to have the greatest love.

Christin.

 

In the Trenches

I had a very good weekend. Between Friday evening and Sunday evening, I read three books. All memoirs.

“Manic Kingdom” is the story about a girl who begins her journey to medical school. We then follow along with her on her journey into a downward spiral. We share in her breakdown, and then break through.

“Forward” is the memoir by the one and only Abby Wambach, a retired soccer player, two times Olympic Gold medalist. I can promise you, if you are not a fan of soccer, you will be after reading her book. Abby also takes us on her journey into a downward spiral.

Last night I started “The Glass Castle” a true account of a young girl and her siblings. Both parents suffer from a form of mental illness, which leaves the children with nothing but a childhood of extreme poverty.

All three heroines have a common theme. “In the trenches.” A term used for our soldiers who found themselves in the trenches of war, and having to dig themselves out.

……

As I said, I had a very good weekend. I am doing a four-day mini boot-camp type of thing that concentrates on mind, body, spirit. Today was a good day. All my problems are still there. Finances, seeking employment, car issues, yet, my mind was in a different place. A better place. Today was a good day.

It was a record high in my little Seattle suburb. We hit 93 degrees. The last time we hit that high was back in 1952. It has been brutal. If you want an escape from the sweltering heat, you are looking at the grocery store or mall. The simple task of washing dishes drenched me in sweat. Makeup? Forget about it. I throw my hair up in a clip and call it good.

I dropped Vinnie off at work. Made the short eight-minute drive back home. Pac. Hwy takes me pretty much from my front door to his restaurant. The only thing, so many damn lights. On the way home, I got lucky, I only hit one light. As I am sitting there at the stop light, still drenched in sweat, afraid to turn my AC on (car issues and all) I notice a girl standing on the corner to my right. Young. If I had to guess, I would say barely in her twenties. She is by herself. Her body language tells me she is standing exactly where she wants to be. I cannot stop looking at her. The young girl is wearing short cut-off shorts, about two sizes too small, a halter top that I would guess to be the same size, and boots. Boots I have come to refer to as “hooker boots” first brought to us from the lovely Vivian in “Pretty Woman.” The young girl had both hands on her hips in what I am assuming was supposed to be some sort of enticing pose. She is a prostitute. I continue to watch her in my rearview mirror as a car stops and motions her over. She is leaning into the passenger sides window. “Honk-Honk.” I had lost track of time. The light was now green and the car behind me was reminding me to “pay attention.” Slowly, I put my foot on the gas while keeping an eye on the girl in my rearview mirror. She got into the car. I cannot even begin to imagine what is going on in her life to bring her to the corner of Pac. Hwy and 304th. She is in the trenches.

……

I came home to my 103-degree apartment, brought some leftovers out for dinner and called Christin. While on the phone, Christin told me about a mutual friend, Lydia, who is going through a hard time. Lydia and I have lost touch over the years. I rely on Christin for updates. Sadly, it seems that Lydia is in a co-dependent, verbally abusive relationship. It’s sad. Lydia has it in her to escape. Lydia has the strength. Lydia just does not see what we all see in her. While Lydia is confused and trying to keep the peace while questioning everything she thought she already knew, Lydia, no doubt, is in the trenches.

After my phone call, I decide to take one of many showers to cool off. Nothing works. It’s one of those times where as soon as you come out of the ice-cold shower, you are once again drenched in sweat.

While my hair still wet, and as few clothes on as possible without traumatizing my children, I take my place in front of the fan and pretty much refuse to move. I open up my Facebook just to see what I have been missing since I have been engrossed in reading this weekend.

Ashley is a Facebook acquaintance of mine. I have known her for years. We met in a low-carb chat room many years ago when Sofia was just a newborn. Ashley is never one for drama, a very tell-it-like-it-is person, and private. When I saw her Facebook post “Nothing else matters, I have to be strong for my daughter.” I knew something was up. I offered support in the best way I could, without intruding on her privacy. I do not know if there are problems in her marriage, or perhaps an illness, but something is going on. Ashley, she is in the trenches.

……

I kept scrolling my feed. I was comfortable and starting to cool off. I know if I dared to leave my comfy spot in front of the fan, someone would take my spot, and by “someone” I mean most likely one of the cats.

As I am scrolling, I see the food pictures, I see the fake selfies, I see the “I have the best husband” post, I see the “I have the best wife” post, and really, we all know the wife most likely hijacked her husband’s Facebook. Then, I see a long post. One of those long post that says “see more” and you have to click on the link to read it all. It was from Rich.

Funny story about Rich. Rich is more of an acquaintance of mine. I know him through Christin. Christin has a long history with Rich and introduced us on social media. I like Rich. I have good vibes from Rich. Rich is one of the good ones, and although I have no proof of this other than my gut and Christin’s history, trust when I say Rich is a good one. So, I clicked on the link that says “see more” and I read. I read and I read. Rich, well, he is not doing good. He is fighting for his marriage. I do not know the details. I do not need to know the details. All I know is Rich, he is lost, and broken. He is fighting for something that may or may not be able to be fixed. Rich is in the trenches.

Callie is a good friend of mine. I talk to her on the phone about three times a week. Sometimes I am jealous of Callie, and because we have a solid friendship, I have told her so. Financially, she is better off than I am. Although her kids are older, it seems Callie is always on the go. Doing this, doing that, doing whatever she can. Lunch out, an early morning breakfast, fireworks at the waterfront, swimming at the lake. I do not have the means financially to make memories with my kids like Callie does. However, just like all the stories above, nothing is what it may seem. Callie struggles. She struggles in a way where Christin and I are most likely her only outlet. You see, Callie has some stuff going on “behind the scenes” that she can not talk about, because if the wrong person found out, then life as Callie knew it, it would be over. Callie is in the trenches.

“I know it’s all you’ve got to just, be strong
And it’s a fight just to keep it together, together
I know you think, that you are too far gone
But hope is never lost
Hope is never lost”

Those of you that know me, or have been long-time followers of Vodka Calling, you guys know I have spent many times in the trenches. Hell, it’s safe to say I have a bottle of vodka, chocolate, and my favorite pillow down in those trenches. I can give you a tour and pretty much an estimation date of when you will find your way out of the trenches.

But, as long as you hold on, I know you will find your way out.

~Jennifer