Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Signing Off on 2008

Much like my boss signs off on my expense report (which usually includes a cup of Starbucks as breakfast) I am signing off on 2008. In my industry- we're pretty much done with our year by the middle of December and the Holidays are a good time to take a much needed break. I've had to stumble into the office for a little while, but for the most part, I am signing off until the New Year. I'll be spending most of my time frantically getting Christmas presents bought, wrapped and enjoying time at home with Cole & Joey. I'll also spend some much needed time with God reflecting on this crazy year. There are also a stack of books screaming to be read.

I have to say I'm glad that 2008 is soon to be in my rear view mirror. Hopefully, I won't look back. In case you are just now tuning in, I began 2008 knowing I was headed for a divorce and the road this year has been a rocky one. My amazing Dad, who was married before he and my mother married some 37 years ago, told me that my divorce would probably be the hardest thing I ever did. As usual, he was right. While my theme for 2008 might have been Bitter Party of One..2009 will be a much more positive.

So to summarize in 2008. I sad goodbye to Will. I got over bitter. I got mad and totally channeled that energy into some pretty cool home improvements and weight loss. I've navigated the beginning of the terrible 2's, and single working mommy world. Survived another merger/acquisition on the professional front. Completed 14 new retail stores for my client and signed on all of my 2009 deals. I've made some amazing new friends, met a marketing boy, and let some really cool people into mine and Cole's life. I said goodbye to Tobie. I adopted Joey. I saw my big brother get married. I supported friends through their journey. I started running. I started Blogging. I started accepting help from people. I grew as a person and in my Faith. I cried a lot but, all in all I laughed much more.

I started this Blog as an outlet for the random thoughts in my crazy head. It's been therapeutic for me. A very real documentary of my journey. I have to thank all of you who read and comment. Some of them publicly on the blog, but I get many emails of encouragement that are much more private. I've been amazed at the notes I've received from people I've never met who have been where I'm at or are contemplating it and thank me for just putting it out there. I'm not a woman with many secrets. If I have a thought- you'll generally know what I'm thinking so blogging has been really natural for me. I think my favorite notes have been : "no pressure but keep the blog posts coming.."

I brought in 2008 fearful and alone with a case of strep throat, a bottle of champagne, and a lot of Wii ( I think I made the pro level that night in Tennis) Two NyQuil capsules later I woke up to 2008 and in addition to strep throat I had pink eye so my eyes were swollen shut. It took me a couple of days to get them open again, but they have been wide open all year long. I finally saw that I'm much stronger than I give myself credit for. I saw that though I didn't feel worthy of it, God never left me this year. He showed me the way and brought really amazing people into my life who have helped & supported me. The past months & my ex's actions have shown me that I absolutely made the right decision in walking away from my marriage. I felt more alone in that relationship than I have ever felt out of it. I hope he feels less alone too.

So if 2008 was a year of bitterness and fear. I'm vowing to make 2009 a year of Hope and New Beginnings. I am hopeful that Cole will continue to thrive, that I'll find the next step in my career path, and that I'll continue on my meandering soul journey. I'm also hopeful that I'll run a 1/2 marathon, finally take a guitar lesson, channel some of my writing energy into actually starting the book that's in my head, continue to build on the new relationships that have been brought to me this year, travel more, worry less, and be okay with not always being okay.

I have no idea what's in store for me. I only know that Cole and I made it through this year and I feel like my little man and I can make it through anything. We have a pretty amazing supporting cast & now have a new sidekick in Joey to join us on the roller coaster that is our life. I didn't get around to Christmas Cards this year (shocking I know) so I hope this post finds you and yours at Peace and that you have a moment to think about the true meaning of Christmas and to be thankful for all that 2008 showed us and hopeful that 2009 will rock!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New Addition

Big news everyone. Really big news... There's a little one involved..Just kidding...pick your jaw up off the floor...No worries on the baby front.

I've adopted a companion for Cole & I. She is so sweet and clearly has good genes on her side. She has freckles like me, some red coloring (which is always a good thing) and she's really smart. She's been a little shy and slow to warm up- but baby steps are being made everyday.

I have so named her.. Josephine Drury Peterson. But we'll call her Joey. She already has her own theme song.. "Joey" by the infamous Concrete Blondes. So when she's upset me I can bust out in song with "'re driving me crazy.." it's awesome.

After I adopted Joey (who is an Australian Shepard if you're wondering) I told my Dad and his response was " I knew you wouldn't go too long without a dog.." He was right. I'm a sucker for the dog. I think I lasted about a month.. and really wasn't planning on getting a dog so quickly, but she was everything I was looking for. I had narrowed it down to three breeds really: Golden Retriever, Australian Shepard, & Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. I wanted an older puppy,close to a year in age, because I knew I didn't have time for the itty bitty puppy craziness. Cole and I had tagged along with a friend to visit a breeder and I was instantly taken with Joey who they were calling Tapp. She was extremely concerned about Cole. She just watched him... she'd slowly start to make her way toward him and then back off. I'd done quite a bit of research on Aussies and knew that the females often began being the keepers of small children. I loved her temperament, her coloring, and it felt right. The breeder explained that another lady was interested and had submitted some samples of Joey's DNA for testing because she had plans to breed Joey. Someone else was 1st in line for my dog. The nerve! I wouldn't know until Thursday of the following week if I could have her. It was fairly nerve racking,but told myself if it's meant to be- it will be. I prayed. Stressed a little bit and was my usual persistent (bordering on obnoxious self). Obviously Joey is part of the family now. She's really part of Cole's Christmas and he's really concerned about her. "Mommy..Joey?" He wants SO badly to play with her but I'm encouraging him to give Joey plenty of space.. She's not completely out of her shell yet.

I feel slightly guilty as I am usually an advocate for rescuing a dog and this is my first actual dog "purchase." There are so many dogs in shelters who need good homes, but with a little one around- I guess I wanted to know what sort of temperament I was going to get. I guess in a way I did rescue Joey from being bred herself? That's what I'll keep telling myself. But please welcome Joey to the cast of characters in mine & Cole's crazy life!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

I knew I could...

OK so I didn't know I could..but after Friday night when I plowed thru 4.5 miles and felt like I could run another 1/2 a mile with no worries- I felt a little more at ease.

Saturday night I was good and opted for Crab Cakes instead of a steak, only ate one of the cakes, two martini's (liquid courage is awesome) and I was out of the restaurant by 10pm and in bed by 11pm resting up for the race Sunday morning. Race day child care was a little stressful.. Cole's Dad was going to take him for the entire day, but wanted me to drive 1/2 an hour north before the race (which was downtown) on Sunday and bad communication put me in a pickle. So once again, my amazing friend helped me out and opened her door at 6:30am for me to drop off a very confused toddler. "Mommy -No! I sleep" he protested as I jostled him out of bed. There was no Good Morning sunshine to be found. When he saw Ms Rhonda in her PJs I think he knew he had it made.

So off we went to the race. I have to give kudos to the folks who organize the White Rock Marathon. With over 30,000 participants it was extremely well done. Lots of bands playing along the way. The residents of the Lakewood Community and around White Rock stood out in their yards handing out orange slices, holding banners and cheering runners on. I had five people to share 26 miles with. What amazed me on my run were the runners doing the full 26miles on their own. It wasn't glamorous. It was, instead, a mental and physical battle for them. Along the route you could see people yakking, stopping to relieve themselves in the bushes, stretching out muscle cramps, stopping to walk, and tend to injuries and sadly some of the runners were just passed out.

It was nothing like what I pictured in my mind of all of these extremely fit people sprinting through 26miles. It was brutal. A very real battle of the body and mind. One of my teammates summed it up best when he said " Running isn't a glamorous sport.. today we're all just humans..." It was very human. Nothing extremely vain about sweat, stank, and bodily functions. But what amazed me as a battled through my own five miles running into the 35mph winds.. when you're out there it's all about finishing what you started. Setting an objective for yourself and committing to finish. The rest of it being aches and pains, the elements, the course and the other runners, well it just becomes road kill as you plow on through. I never looked back as I ran and didn't notice any of my fellow runners looking back either. How awesome would our life journey be if we could all just keep looking forward in our run and not look back at the carnage & mistakes behind us. I thought about this a lot during my five miles. I spend way too much time in life looking back and wondering if I could have done something differently rather than focusing on the next mile marker.

As I rounded a corner and saw the mile 13 marker, I must confess that somewhere in my mind I thought I should be coming up on mile 14, and just when I started to feel a little defeated there was a lady holding up a sign.. Yes, it might have been a little cheesy, but as I read did give me a little warm fuzzy. It said " Tough times never last- but tough people do.." Chew on that for a while.. I'm chewing on whether or not I should train for a 1/2 marathon or hang up the running shoes for anything more than a leisurely run and fitness for the time being. Here are my team's race results:

overall place : 380 of 757 teams
Pace: 10:14 mile
time: 4:27:58

*please note that this results are a little off..we lost about 5minutes of run time in the hand off between runners at the 2nd exchange point & it was 4:44 before our first runner got to cross the start line* I'd say we did a little better than a 10:00 mile. I'll take it. Holla!

Friday, December 12, 2008

I think I can..

I'm just going to be completely honest and ask for prayers, good vibes, and general happy thoughts for me on Sunday morning. I'm running the 5 person relay at for the Dallas "Run the Rock" marathon craziness. Shout out to my friend Christina who is actually going to run the full marathon.. you go girl!

So I only have to run five miles.. and I can run five miles. I haven't been doing a great deal of five mile runs here lately and I have to admit I'm a little concerned about this five mile craziness for several reasons:

  1. There are four other people on my team..they are all runners. Good ones and I'm not so great. I'm going to bring the average way down.
  2. I'm insanely competitive and don't like to be "not so great"
  3. Day light savings time and crazy winds have been messing with my running mojo and running on a treadmill makes me feel like a little rat in a wheel so my running time has been greatly decreased lately. So I haven't been running to become better than "not so great" Oh and I also have the excuse of a vile stomach plague too...
  4. If I totally suck and I'm the only one effected that's one thing- but there are 4 other people who probably won't suck and I'll feel really bad if I let them down
  5. Did I mention the insanely competitive part?

Yeah, I'm a little stressed. But I have a plan. I'm going to get some good rest this weekend. I will not stay out late and get tipsy with my girlfriends Saturday night for our annual Christmas dinner. (OK just slightly tipsy but I'm leaving the restaurant by 10pm come hell or high water) I'm going to run tonight... I'll rest tomorrow and Sunday morning I'll have a Jamba Juice with the energy boost..crank my iPod with bitter chick music that keeps be going, breath deep and plod through five miles the best way I can. Hopefully there won't be a whole lot of old people passing me because that makes me feel like a huge loser...but it does motivate me to run faster.

So there it is. A blog confession of fear. On Monday there may be a pic of me crawling that last mile posted on my blog... or I could run my fastest mile ever..who knows? Guess you'll have to tune in Monday to find out.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Everything's Broken

Are all of the broken things in my life symbolic of me as a person? Just kidding with this were starting to worry weren't you? Ashley's sad again here comes another blog post of her going on and on about how broken she is.

Actually everything is broken in my life. My faithful Volkswagen is getting old and becoming not so faithful. I was driving down the highway the other day when across my driver's console flashed "STOP!" (with a loud beep of course) "Brake Failure" Service Manual!" Seriously.. all of that while cruising 70 mph down the highway. That'll make you pee your pants. Of course, the service manual wasn't of any help. Luckily one of my gal pals turned me on to a good mechanic who is honest and tells it like it is. I need new breaks and my pads are the brake fluid got low.. and caused the "STOP you crazy idiot" message from my faithful car. That's what I get for not buying a GM product. My Dad worked for Chevy for 40+ years and until I bought my Volkswagen I'd never driven anything BUT a GM product. Every time I call my Dad about something wrong with my car I can almost hear the snicker in his voice. "Ash you've got 95,000 miles on a Volkswagen...Really?" He says...

So my oven is possessed as well. When cooking anything, depending on my oven's mood, F1 or F2 flashes and it makes this horrible beeping noise. I sometimes get convinced that machines develop a mind of their own..Like my oven is secretly screaming at me.."you want to bake something well F U 1" or "oh, you think you want to broil something well F u 2" Truly the oven is telling me it's okay not to cook. So I called the GE service man and he advised me that my oven is just older than dirt and they don't even make the control panel for it anymore... so it'll cost you $800 for a new oven and have a nice day... Awesome.

That leads me to my roof..(though not currently leaking) got trashed in all the hail storms last spring. The insurance man has been to look at it, cut me a check for my depreciated roof and left me to get bids for a new roof. Why do roofing guys give me the creeps? It's like they all but say they are going to commit insurance fraud with all of their "we'll absorb your deductible" mambo jumbo. Do I look that stupid? Maybe I do, I don't know..but it just puts me in a foul mood to talk to one so I guess I'll wait for it to start actually leaking.

Lets move on to my fence that's falling down... I just need to the wind to blow really hard and I'm sure it'll blow away too. Nice!

Thankfully, my Dad was able to replace the several bricks that had to be removed from the back of my house when Marketing Boy & I tried to fix the water hose hookey up thingy and broke the pipe off in the wall. So that one only set me back a small fortune in after hours plumbing costs...but I totally saved on hiring someone for the masonry work!!

I also have a peculiar wet spot in the middle of my back a pipe burst underground or something and there's a crazy mud pool in the middle of the yard..not near the house or anything. I'm sure a small moat is inevitable.

For the grand finale-my laptop . The piece of crap. I boot up this morning only to get this long "beeeeeepppp" and another stupid blue screen. Luckily a different blue screen than the "blue screen of death" I got when my last laptop crashed. I've backed up all my work.. so lightening can go ahead and strike- let's just hope said lightening strike takes out ALL of the re-imaged laptops in my office. Good grief. Somebody get me a Mac already.

So with all of these broken things in my life.. I really am broke myself. Broke in the financial sense. It's going to be a long, cold, lonely winter with no money for shopping...which reminds me I have to cut a check for my $178.00 speeding ticket before they haul my broke *ss to jail.

Maybe if fix all of these things..I'll feel fixed too. Thank God for coffee and Mommy Juice.

Monday, December 8, 2008


hab⋅i⋅tat/ˈhæbɪˌtæt/ [hab-i-tat] –noun
1.the natural environment of an organism; place that is natural for the life and growth of an organism: a tropical habitat. 2.the place where a person or thing is usually found. Paris is a major habitat of artists. 3.a special environment for living in over an extended period, as an underwater research vessel. .

I often say that if my house isn't together- I'm not together. Hello my name is Ashley and I am a neat freak. I've mellowed greatly since having a two year old- but for the most part I can't stand dishes in the sink, crap everywhere, and I try to keep things tiddy. It totally messes with my world if a bed isn't made or things are amuck. I'll revert to doing a mad dash through an airport before I'll leave my house in disarray. I have issues.. I know...I can't help it. My most efficient helper in my life as a single mom is my housekeeper who I affectionately call "Poppins" who comes in twice a month and on those weeks I'm in a noticeably better mood. I'd give up a lot of things in my budget before I'd give up this luxury...When I'm at home, after Cole is asleep.. I don't sit down on the couch and zone out. I putter. I pick things up...I fold laundry..I wander looking for something to do. I can putter picking things up for's my thing. When I'm stressed you'll generally find me with bleach and a tooth brush scrubbing's not normal. The day before I had Cole I washed every window on my house and cleaned my air purifier with a q-tip. I have issues.

As I look around, if you looked at my office right now- you wouldn't guess that I'm a neat freak..there are market maps, piles of paper everywhere, a coffee cup, my water mug, a blackberry here, a financial calculator's kind of scary. You might actually wonder by looking at my office if I had a handle on my life... but this isn't my Habitat. This is where I land to do my's not what keeps me centered.

I have a great deal of sweat equity in my house. When I bought it- I was certain that Rainbow Bright had vomited there and then moved on the greener pastures. It was hideous..but the price was right, the floor plan was awesome, and so I bought it. It's been painted floor to ceiling, bathrooms re-done, granite installed,and six years later I finally have it about how I want it. I'll probably sell before Cole goes to school as there are too many memories associated with it, but it's my home and I am a firm believer that in today's world our homes should be our sanctuaries..The place where we can land and relax, get our love cups filled up by the people and animals who reside with us, and gather the strength to go out and do it all again the next day.

I thought about this as I was scrolling through some pictures that I had on my Blackberry and found a picture that I had snapped at a recent Habitat for Humanity build that I had the pleasure of being involved with. My church does a great job partnering with this organization and we usually send out a team of folks to work on several Habitat projects per year. I like to work on one right before Thanksgiving as I find that it puts me in the right frame of mind for the Holidays. We were working one of the last weekends on the house- so it was a lot of laying sod, and detail trim painting- but as the family worked with us.. I asked if they were going to be able to be in the house in time for the Holidays. They should have moved in this past weekend. How awesome is it that they will get to spend the Holidays in their new home-one that they helped build. I was moved again as I stumbled onto the picture on my Blackberry this morning trying to find some space for yet another Cole pic.

We all need a soft place to land.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Tree is Up!

So I got the Tree up. Woo hoo! It was major thing I'd been avoiding..but I poured myself some Mommy Juice... handed Cole the lights..cranked the Christmas carols and two hours later I had a tree up, lit, and standing somewhat erect. Yes, the star is a little off and the lights aren't great- but I had a two year old helper. The fact that he didn't shock or strangle himself on Christmas lights is amazing.

For the first time in six (6) years the tree is all about me and Cole. It sort of rocked. My childhood special handbag ornaments (I had a handbag issue before I had a kid and became broke) all of my Eiffel Tower ornaments..I bought a couple of new sassy chick ornaments.. There are, of course, the Cole ornaments and this year I bought him a new choo choo ornament that he put on the tree and then he promptly yanked it off. He also got tangled up in my "bead" tinsel. The whole experience wasn't as horrible as I thought it would be and when we were done I took him outside and let him see the tree lit up in my dining room window. He said "Mommy wow!!" and we were pretty proud of our accomplishment. Above is the crappy picture taken from my Blackberry Curve.

Who is Marketing Boy?

Some of you have asked... so let me try to explain that relationship..or maybe you'll have to wait. Here's his pic:
Ok I have downed my take out salad. Back to work for me. Holla!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I survived..and I'm thankful

So I survived my first Thanksgiving post divorce. I got down the Christmas tree and the ornaments.. yes they are still sort of scattered around the front half of my house but hey..progress was made. This year is all about new traditions and new memories and so I found myself spending Thanksgiving with Marketing Boy and his family. It's nice to spend time with someone who gets where you are and is okay with it. While I love my family it was hard to explain this concept to them. I tried by just saying " Let me figure out how to get through this first Holiday season. I've always been there and done my part, but this year I need my space." So they rallied and were supportive and Cole and I spent Thanksgiving night with them and stayed through breakfast the following morning.

The Plague
It was shortly after that- when the plague hit us. We'd seen Marketing Boy's kids become stricken and just written it off as food poisoning, but when the plague came knocking on our door it was brutal. Projectile vomit from a two year old cruising down I-35 isn't fun. A Saturday, Sunday & partial Monday spent thinking the end was near wasn't very fun for me either- but I weighed in this morning and the good news is I've made my goal weight loss before the Holiday season. Woo hoo! I found the entire process very cleansing..literally...

The moral of the story is beware people..there is a nasty stomach virus lurching around so keep your homes stocked with Sprite and Ginger Ale and lots of antibacterial cleaning products. You'll thank me when the green monster comes knocking on your door.

Transforming Thoughts
I took last week off to spend some time with the C Monster, catch up with some friends, and just sort of give myself a break. I hadn't had a week off yet this year? So it was good. A lot of soul searching. A lot of thinking and a few moments of giving myself permission to not be okay. Will came to collect Tobie, which was painful. He chose not to see his son during the Holiday,which was also painful, but here's where I am at: It's not my fault and there's nothing I can do about it other than what I've already done and that's surround my son with the best possible people I can. No, his Dad chose not to see him, but I had friends who did want to see him and by Wednesday the Wahlstedts were in Cole withdrawal and needed to have lunch to get a Cole fix. I'm lucky. Cole is a lucky boy. Sometimes we have to get over the fact that love and support doesn't come from the people we think it should. I'm learning to accept it where I find it and to quit asking questions or having expectations.

I stumbled into Church on Sunday a little late, and too stubborn to admit I was still feeling sick and heard the message. It was a good one about accepting that where we are on our Soul Journey is exactly where we should be. To accept the twists and turns, the delays, and the shortcomings because at the end, the divine detour of life sometimes leads to a divine appointment. I pondered this while trying not to hurl: this year has felt like I've done nothing but Crazy 8's in my journey... but here I am.. apparently exactly where I should be. I remembered that this time last year I had given myself a very real timeline for determining my next step in life. Stay in my marriage or walk away. Look how far I've come? It's been painful and hard, but I'm exactly where I should be and what if this Divine detour or delay is leading me to something great?

I've gotten past the plague and this morning I woke up tired, but I think I've shaken off feeling blue. There are 29 days left in 2008....I'm going to enjoy the Holiday season and be thankful. I find myself thinking 2009 has got to be good to me.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cole Craziness

So I had a work trip this week to Atlanta. It was as trip I needed to make because with it came resolution. When I landed in Dallas on Wednesday evening, I couldn't wait to go get Cole. I hate it when I have to leave him overnight. There are times that I don't mind so much as it's nice to sleep uninterrupted, but for the most part it kills me.

Getting to him took longer than I wanted it to because the obnoxious flight crew in Atlanta made me check my bag, so I had to wait at baggage claim, then I couldn't use the SkyLink and then I found myself waiting for a stupid bus to get me from Terminal D back to Terminal C. All this while needing to pee like a race horse. Good times had by all while traveling for business.

Finally, I get to see Cole and I am reminded why I do any of this. After the reunion, I do what any parent does. I futally tried to win back affection for the abandonment and took him for a chocolate shake which in Cole speak is "choca cake" before dinner and then drooled as he slurped it down and I had a diet soda. Then we were off to get home and gear up for a run with Tobie before it got too dark. I strapped Cole in the jogging stroller, tethered Tobie's leash to the stroller..handed Cole his Thomas the Tank Engine flashlight.. turned on my iPod and we were off. About a mile into my run... Cole began chanting "go go go Mommy" All I could think was someday he'll have to push my butt around in a wheelchair and I hope I remember to beat my cane on the ground and chant "go go go Cole!!" Perhaps there will be some retaliation for the past two years of really nasty diapers too. Who knows?

I ran and when we got back to the house, I unstrapped Cole and he immediately started in with
"Sit Mommy. Sit" So I let Tobie in the house to cool down and assumed the "sit" position with Cole on my front step. We passed the bottle (of water) back and forth and commenced serious conversation. I began by saying " Cole I hope I'm not screwing up your life?" He looked at me.. and pointed to the sky "Mommy Plane!! Dights" (the plane had it's lights on if there was any doubt) Clearly he's concerned about my screwing up his life too. We talked about the cars, my flowers, Tobie, the planes, icky poo poo and dights. He's two. His vocabulary is somewhat limited. I took a deep breath in and let it out. Cole mimicked me and then snuggled up close to me. I only had a moment to squeeze in a hug before I smelled icky poo poo and my priceless memory of invaluable time with Cole was drawn to a close..

"Cole did you poop?"

He looked me right in the eyes, shook his head and said "No.." Clearly he has a future in politics.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Feeling a Little Blue

I'm usually a really upbeat person. I get a little bogged down sometimes.. generally I allow myself time to work through whatever I'm feeling & then I move on: hopeful.

The hits have just kept coming lately. I feel sort of like I've been knocked down and I'm having a little bit of difficulty picking myself back up. Work stress. Life stress. I've had to make a really hard decision about my Tobie dog, and the holidays are fast approaching.

This week Tobie (my mutt of a dog) will go to live with his Dad. I rescued Tobie from a local no kill animal shelter with my ex a couple of months after we were married. I had a little Westie (Sophie) that was mine pre-marriage and so Tobie was always meant to be my ex's dog. We both spoiled him. Will a little more than me as he seemed to think that everything Tobie did (obnoxious or not) was cute. Sophie died several years after marriage and I couldn't bring myself to attach to another dog. Tobie was our child until Cole. When Will & I split we agreed Tobie would stay with me because of Will's crazy firefighter schedule and to not upset him as he had always lived in our home. I've done everything I could to feel like Tobie was really my dog and offer him enough love, but somewhere deep in my heart he is just a painful reminder to me. As crazy as it sounds, Will paid more attention to the dog and his needs than he ever did to me. Don't get me wrong... I love Tobie greatly and always will, but since our parting Tobie mourned Will leaving. He's grown more out of control and taken to biting me, Cole, other people and kids and so Will has worked with me and is coming to take Tobie to live with him. I can't have a biter around Cole, but it still breaks my heart to see him go and to think of my house without a dog. I am a lover of dogs and it seems like just one more thing I'll have to mourn and worry about eventhough I know it's for the best. Tobie needs to be with Will. He'll be happier and I have to let him go.

Mawiage is what brings us together today..
Chris, my big brother, got married last weekend. I was so happy for him and I know that's he's found his partner in life. I am excited to watch him start his life with Rachel. But attending any wedding since my divorce is painful and hard. I still believe in marriage. I don't live in a dream world where it's easy and doesn't take work every single day. It's a comittment, a spiritual union, but I still think when you find a true partner it has to be the most fulfilling relationship possible? Will I ever have the opportunity to experience that sort of relationship and how could I ever promise anyone "forever" again? This weighs on me.

This is usually my favorite time of year.. I love the fall and the Holiday season. I love dragging out the Christmas ornaments and putting up my tree and dorky Christmas carols. I love cooking Holiday food and coming up with a crazy idea for the Peterson family Christmas card complete with a picture of us in matching santa hats or red sweaters or whatever. But this year I'll climb up in my attic and sift through all of the ornaments and know I'll have to box up all the ones I'd collected through the years for Will because he didn't have any of his childhood ones when we got married. There will be firetrucks, stockings & dog ornaments and things that aren't really symbolic last box of things to pack up for someone who never could invest in me the same way I invested in him...I'm going to need some Mommy Juice.

Watching my brother get married, learning that my cousin's wife is pregnant with baby no. 2 made me sad for Cole as well. If you're lucky there is special bond when you grow up with a sibling. There will always be someone who knows every childhood wound or heartache.. who understands your difficult relationship with your parents and truly gets you in every sense of the word. I've always sort of had that with my brother. We may fight or disagree or snap at each other... but the history, love and respect is there. I'd do anything for my brother. It hurts my heart that Cole might never have a sibling to grow up with. After explaining this to Counselor Sherri, she smiled and said

"well yes, but Cole has a Mom that will over compensate in other ways.."

I nodded and replied " I know God has a plan for me..but this isn't what I had in mind.."

she smiled and said "His path is best and only He knows what's in store for's hard, but you have to trust.."

There's a concept.

I'll work on that one while I finish my lunch and get back to work. But I'll be back with more positive ramblings after the intermission. Holla!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

How Did I Get Here?

I've had an interesting couple of weeks on the work front. A lot of accusations about me not advising my client of something...threats... me producing valid documentation that I did in fact present the information and gain approval. How did I land in a world where daily I feel like I'm operating in CYA mode... That's "Cover Your Ass " in case you were wondering. I've learned that CYA is just the nature of the business, but I'm still sick of it. Now I'm in "earn the trust back mode" when I never should have lost it? I did my job exactly as I should have.

Growing up I always wanted to be someone who helped people. A nurse, a physical therapist, a psychologist or something? All I help people do now is acquire real estate: at the best possible price, in the most efficient amount of time, and with the least amount of legal or financial exposure. I pondered this as I stared at my laptop and my office covered with Cole pics, with my headset on my head, in my thinking mode (which is sitting Indian style in my office chair with my heels kicked off) did I get here?

I know the answer. A series of events in College that led to the Bank I worked for reimbursing me for a lot of my upper level classes as long as they were business related. I made sure they were. I was a Finance Major with a minor in Real Estate. It came easy to me. It seemed logical. I landed a good job fresh out of college with a great commercial Real Estate firm in Dallas. I'd even say they were the best commercial Real Estate firm in Dallas. I started at the bottom and have worked my way to where I am now. Now I've sort of mommy tracked my career. The next level of advancement would mean less time with Cole and more time traveling and managing people and I'm not willing to make that sacrifice right now. Good thing the economy is in the crapper because I don't really have an opportunity for the next level. It makes me feel less guilty about not being more pro-active in my advancement.

So as I think about the things that led me this really my calling in life? Because I'm good at it and can make an okay living? Or am I missing a world where I would be totally satisfied and fulfilled by my career? Is it God's will for me to be here when all of the steps along the way have been easy or have I missed a greater calling by always doing what's comfortable?

I don't hate my job. Most days I enjoy it and feel like I'm a contributing member of society. I'm also really good at it. But are these things that make a worthwhile career or have I missed the point? OK..I'm turning off the computer and going to bed. I have to bring my "A" game at the office tomorrow. But can someone please tell me what I'm meant to be when I grow up?


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hmm.. Politics...

“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible…who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of Democracy..tonight is your answer..”
-Barack Obama

Gathering my thoughts for this blog has taken me some time. Political views are never easy to discuss. This Presidential election raised much emotion in the United States. I felt fairly passionately about it. I caucused in the Primary and found myself awe inspired that for the first time there was a possibility that a woman or an African American man could be the President elect. In my dream world Obama & Hillary would have been on the same ticket. In our discussions of this Presidential campaign, I asked Marketing Boy if he remembered thinking as a child if he would ever see a black man or a woman as President. His answer was honest... He hadn’t really thought about it. He just assumed he would.

I had. I’d thought about it as a young girl... our parents tell us that there aren’t any limitations, but there always have been. Presidents, the highest political office, the Commanders in Chief, the leaders of the free world… have always been white men. I pondered and even journaled about it as a girl… “Will I live to see a Woman be President?” I hated watching the media attack Hillary because she cried or because of supposed cankles or because she was too tough or not sensitive enough? She couldn’t win any way she presented herself?

Politics in my family has always been an interesting coversation. My father’s family was die hard Republican. My mother’s were Democrats. My Mom and Dad did a fairly good job of selecting candidates and not always voting within party lines... but the battle ground was present. Democrat or Republican?

I don’t consider myself a die hard liberal. But if one were to look at my voting track record…I voted to re-elect Clinton in 1996, let’s just say I didn’t vote for Bush either time (not that it matters in the Great State of Texas) and I didn’t vote for McCain in this election. I realize in the Christian community, in the professional community of which I am a part, and amongst many of my family and friends that makes me a minority. I certainly don’t discuss politics in the office because well the day after the election my client began forwarding me “Obama is the anti-Christ” "The end is near" emails. I’ve received the email chains that Obama is not really a citizen because his father was an African Muslim and that his birth certificate is wrong, so he couldn’t possibly be a citizen? I’ve seen the You Tube videos showing working class America going on and on about Barack HUSSEIN Obama. The spelling of his name apparently makes him a terrorist? Someone even commented to me that if I voted for Obama- I was responsible for our country going to “hell in a hand basket.” Wow….

I’ll spare you the break down of the issues and my stance. I have a very real opinion on all of them, but I didn’t agree 100% with either candidate’s stance on them. I had to look at the bundle of issues and make my call. I did so without ever saying “McCain is the Anti-Christ” Truthfully, when McCain gave his concession speech I thought to myself “that’s a class act” there is the man that I expected to see run the campaign for the Presidency

My thoughts, however random, are getting a little lost. When I watched Obama give his victory speech, I knew I was witnessing history. We might not all believe in his views, but 70% of registered voters turned out to vote in this Presidential election.

I read an article not long ago that made an interesting correlation. Great American leaders have either come from strong political backgrounds with strong male role models (ie the Kennedy’s) or they have rose above their means or situation and did so without a strong Father figure present (Clinton or Obama). Barack Hussein Obama may have a crazy sounding name. His father was a Muslim and not born in the United States..but Barack was. That makes him an American Citizen and qualified to lead. He rose above his situation to gain an education. He has served his community and his State as a Senator. He is a practicing Christian and while he has been linked to some fairly questionable people in the past—haven’t we all? Can’t we celebrate his efforts to better himself? Appreciate his willingness to serve?

Regardless of our views or our vote…We have set an example for our children, finally, that there are no limitations. Obama inspired an entire generation that “Yes We Can.” He reached across party and racial lines. Let’s see what he does with it and realize that great accomplishments often begin when we embrace change.

This liberal has a Lean Cuisine hiding in my Get Hip Get Green lunch bag. Time to go nuke it , recycle the container and eat some lunch. Holla!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Toys Toys Mommy!!

Thanks to the Target Corporation for sending out the mega toy catalog.. Cole saw it.."Toys! Book!!" he proclaimed and grabbed it from me with his sticky, grubby, chunky little toddler mits..Then he carried it to the coffee table where he could place it at exactly the right reading/thumbing through it height and looked at it cover to cover..proclaiming "Wow!" at every page.

When he got to a page with a choo choo or a Car... He's pick it up.."Mommy! Thomas...Purcy!!" or CARS!!" Just like the shampoo bottle says "rinse lather repeat" Cole felt it necessary to peruse the Toy catalog twenty times.. The most exciting page to him was the one with the train table....

Doh! Where the heck am I gonna put a train table? Coffee Table or Train Table?.. messes with my whole Pottery Barn motif..but what the heck. Choo choo! Santa sign me up. Do you want my MasterCard number now or later for a "priceless" Christmas morning?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Chocolate In My....

I am a Mom. I try not to be that Mom that goes on and on about my child all the time... but I have to say that Cole was the cutest possible train conductor for Halloween. I couldn't get him to wear the red bandanna or the work gloves, but that's okay. We only had one meltdown when it was time to call trick or treating quits but he said "t-a-n-k-s" for every piece of candy..I was so proud.
We worked on "trick or treat" for a couple of weeks leading up to Halloween. Cole had a Thomas the Train trick or treat pale, so "trick or treat" became "Chocolate in my Choo Choo" At least he gets points for being consistent. Every house I'd say "trick or treat" & he would chime in with his chocolate choo choo greatness. It was pretty classic.. Oh so cute.
And when all of the trick or treating was done.. I put him in his jammies, we said our prayers, I told him I loved him and he was so tired that he all but climbed up into his crib himself. He assumed his butt up sleeping position and dreamed of treats in his choo choo.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I'm drained

I had a crazy weekend. Nothing happened the way it should have. I had concert tickets Friday night to see Ray LaMontagne. He was awesome. He's the kind of artist that can stand there with his guitar and sing. No gimmicks or strobe lighting needed. Just his soulful voice. He gives me chills. What didn't give me chills but rather REALLY annoyed me was tweedle dumb and tweedle dumber aka annoying Highland Park chicks who showed up extremely late and then proceeded to talk to each other and play with their cell phones during the concert. Why bother? Here is this man pouring his heart out singing at the Majestic and these ditzes are twirling their hair, smacking their gum and trying oh so hard to be seen. I saw you and I wasn't impressed. I realize that this isn't a nice statement, but really? Why pay money to ignore an artist and distract those of us who are trying to appreciate the show?

Saturday got all messed up as well. Cole & I had plans to take Nana to lunch for her birthday, and hit Boo at the Zoo later that afternoon...but Nana had an accident (thankfully she's okay) and wasn't up to it and Tobie decided to run away from home Saturday afternoon so I spent the afternoon looking for my Mutt. He was found and is okay. I called the ex to let him know Tobie was missing because he's still a contact for Tobie and listed on all of the vet info., He showed up to help look for Tobie and fixed the fence that fell down. I appreciated the effort. Can't say I appreciated meeting his new girlfriend and her daughter under those circumstances...The timing was just off. While I am happy that he has moved on and only want his happiness. I hadn't prepared myself for such a meeting. Or the "show" that had to happen with Cole, Tobie & I. It felt fake and while I think I manged myself pretty well being polite and offering beverages and making idle small talk..there I was with my ex husband, his new girlfriend, her kid, & Cole trying to figure out what would Emily Post do? It's a little violating for a meeting such as that to happen in my only home. It's over and done. Tobie is back and once again I had to console by boys as they watched the ex get back in his car and drive away..this time with someone else and her child.

While I'm making my own efforts to move on. I just think there's a way to handle things. I won't show up to drop Cole off to see his father with someone else in the car..but I'm still new at this and working on my own boundaries. In my opinion, the ex won't need to know about anyone I'm seeing unless I'm fairly certain that person is going to be around long term. Then I would tell him and let him know that this person is a part of my life and I'd like him to get on board. Other than that, the wounds are still fresh. I'll have a little respect for his feelings. Even when people part ways--why can't there be a continued respect? Have we become so insensitive as people that we can't think about how things might impact another person?

After something like this happens- there is a need to just say "what the heck?" You need a sounding board. Someone who will just listen to you talk through it. It can upset me even though I'm happy for him. It was awkward and draining. My sounding board sounded back with a lot of things I didn't really want to hear at that moment. Things that were hurtful and critical and not needed when I was already drained. The wound was open and salt was poured in.

Thankfully there are other people in my address book that helped me on my way. The good news is I think I now know what my calling is for the book I want to write. Divorce etiquette. I think there's a niche here. More than 50% of us are divorced and we need an Emily Post for the commitment challenged. Right? I think I have my first chapter in the "what not to do section"

Anyway, not a banner weekend. But I got my cup filled back up at church, I'm planning to run five miles (though not well) I've given Cole lots of love and have plans for a relaxing evening ... Once again my friends listened and comforted and another divorce hurdle was crossed I suppose. There really should be a handbook for this crap.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ramblings of My Crazy Two Year Old

Good times are had being a parent to a 2 yr old. I love that he can finally communicate to me what he wants and needs. Sometimes I don't understand what the heck is saying, but I suppose that's half the fun. I love that Cole is developing this super cute personality and really I think that overflows into his own little language.. Last night I dug out Cole's Thomas the Train trick or treat pale ...(Sir Cole is going to be a Train Conductor for Halloween) I said "Cole say Trick or Treat" fascinated with his Thomas the Train pale he said instead "Chocolate in My Choo Choo.."

Sometimes I'll say "Cole I love you..." and ask him to say " I love you too Mama.." instead he'll say " I love (long pause) ma"

Often he points at me & says "You Mama" and he can now say "ToBie" instead of "Togo" Every morning we rush out of the house and I say "go go go Cole" and then I say "bye bye Tobie" Now as soon as I say "go go go Cole" ... My little man begins his "Bye Bye Tobie" & heads to the door. When we get in the car he'll begin requesting "cars cars cars" and that's my cue that he wants to hear the song from the Movie "Cars" we start our day listening to "Life is a Highway" and I have to dance and act silly with him while he bobs his head and dances in his car seat. I look fairly spastic driving through my neighborhood every morning. What we'll do to make our kids laugh? We can't just listen to it once...he immediately starts in with "gin gin" which is code for "again"... here I was hoping for a dirty martini with all the gin talk.

Cole has an obsession with movies... his favorite titles:

"Super" = The Incredibles
"Sheak" or "Donkey"= Shrek
"Happy"= Happy Feet
"Choo Choo" = Thomas the Train
"Cars" = Cars the Movie
"Mimi & Maxc" = Max & Ruby

Other discoveries I've made in Cole language:

Outside= I want to go outside... we say this one a lot. The child would live outside if he could
Fries= I'm scared that he knows this one..Rhonda you wouldn't know anything about this would you?
Coffee= He knows what Coffee is.. I'm blaming the Wahlstedts : )
Cake= donut or desert looking stuff
diapoo= diaper
cycle= bicycle
boaple=fruit. usually strawberries or apples
more bat= he's not ready to get out of the bathtub
teeth= he wants to brush his teeth
night night is communicated when he is ready to go to bed
when he rubs his head- that's my cue to play with his hair to help him wind down before bedtime
nana papa (spoken as one word)= my parents...when he says their name..he's ready to give them a call..but then he won't actually speak
duck cycle= he wants me to read him his new favorite book before nap time "Duck on a Bike" thanks uncle Chris!

The cute little language that is all Cole is fun...but then there are moments when he doesn't get his way... he clenches his fists..the mouth gets square, he throws back his head, lets out this wail and I swear the veins are going to pop out of his neck. The drama of it all!! It's like a scene out of the Exorcist. I swear I think he's being possessed or something. There is no reasoning with him at this point. So I just look at him like he's crazy and ask "are you done?"

What has been really interesting is, that lately, when we get to the 3rd time of my asking him to do something and we graduate from my "asking" to "telling" and he can see the disapproval on my face that sets him off too (see above reaction). He gets his feelings hurt because he knows he has disappointed me. These instances get " Cole I love you so much but you need to do this for me.." and I usually get a "k" and he wipes his tears and we move on.

It's hard out there for a little guy....

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Life List

Shocking I know..but I do have a life list.. A list of things that I'd like to accomplish with my slightly sound mind, somewhat functioning body, & incredible desire to be content when I'm laying on my death bed & know that I put it all out there... To give you a peek at my list (in no particular order):

  1. Have a real and lasting partnership
  2. Travel to at least twenty countries
  3. Read the Bible cover to cover
  4. Be comfortable in my own skin
  5. Raise Cole to be an amazing man
  6. Sit at Cole's college graduation & know I've given him the tools to be successful in life
  7. Sky Dive
  8. Bungee Jump
  9. Take a Hot Air Balloon ride
  10. Own a convertible
  11. Go on a mission trip to Africa
  12. Have a career that is meaningful to me
  13. Always have at least five friends who I know I can count on
  14. Run a marathon...or maybe just a lot of races..(see further commentary below)
  15. Write a book..even if it's never published
  16. Become deeply involved in a charity that is meaningful to me
  17. Go on a trip alone... and find myself least three times in my life
  18. Make sure the people I love---know it...
  19. Buy an old house and restore it... (this one is becoming less and less appealing as I struggle to keep my somewhat new house from falling down)
  20. Allow myself to fully accept Grace
  21. Liposuction (ok I'm kidding about this one...)
  22. Own a beach cruiser bicycle (red of course) with a basket and ride around on it..even when I'm 80
  23. Own a home with a porch swing
  24. Learn to knit (I need something to do when I'm old)
  25. Learn to play the guitar...
  26. Matter to people
  27. Take lots of photography classes
  28. Live on the water at some point in my life
  29. Make it to the end of my life & be at peace

If someone had read my life list from several years ago it would have included a lot of career type or financial goals. I guess I'm just becoming a slacker in my old age? Or maybe I've just accepted that those are just accomplishments and it's more about the journey and the relationships I form outside of my profession that fulfill me? What really makes us successful anyway? I'm still wrapping my mind around this one.

I am proud to say that with the help of marketing boy I completed my first 5k race on Saturday (see life list # 14) Yes, I ran the whole thing and didn't pass out. I didn't even stop for water or to walk. So I was pretty pleased. I'm waiting for race results to be posted- but I know for a fact that I didn't finish last!

However, Tuesday reality set in for me when I couldn't really walk without pain. I twisted my back some sort of crazy way running over the weekend I think? After the back spasm my goal has become less about running a marathon because I just don't think this body is equipped to do that... so I'll settle for running a lot of races for charity and keep my acupuncturist, chiropractor extraordinaire Dr. Miner on speed dial..

Maybe I'll work up to a 10k eventually, but I'm thinking why in the world do I need to run more than 6 miles at one time? That's what cars are bye bye marathon aspirations. My back hurts!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Random Ramblings on Self Image

Another turkey sandwich on wheat at the desk. I had a rough meeting this morning and another one this afternoon.. so what I really want to do is go eat something comforting with a friend. But I'm focused on losing a few pounds (what else is new?) so I'll eat my little sandwich, save myself some $ and blog. Lucky you.

My meeting was rough because I got my *ss handed to me. Not really for something I failed to do, but rather a failure to foresee how this person would want the information presented to them. Perhaps it's hard to predict this because it constantly changes...the preferred method of delivery of information..who knows. Just give me my butt chewing and send me on my way. Next time I'll consult with the Magic 8 ball before submitting my stuff. I'm a big girl... I can take a butt chewing.. say my "yes sirs" and go on my way. I don't even cry..because that would prove me weak in the business world.

But being a little bitter about eating my turkey sandwich led me to some thoughts about self esteem issues and how most women I know are constantly struggling to conform to an ideal image of what a woman should be. In business she's assertive without being bitchy...At home the house is perfect and she's supportive of her family without being a doormat... In relationships she struggles to express herself without being perceived as overly opinionated or overbearing. It's a constant balancing act. No wonder we need a trough of Ben & Jerry's occasionally.

But we better not overindulge in the Ben & Jerry's because then butts will expand.. and as women it seems we're always struggling to be that "picture" of what beauty is... From a very young age we're shown through media, conversation, perception and experience..that society appreciates the tall, thin, blonde woman with perfect measurements. Trust me... I got sucked in at an early age too.. I'm still sucked in (literally) at 31. My expectations are a little more realistic I think, but none the less... here I am on yet another diet. In reality I will never be 5'10, barely weigh 100 pounds, and not have a physical flaw.

At 13 I came home and told my Mom I wanted to go on a diet...and oh by the way, I needed to get rid of my freckles..freckles aren't pretty. I really wanted to dye my hair too...but Mom drew the line at that. She bought me some products guaranteed to fade freckles, taught me the importance of sunblock and off I went to diet and conform. I didn't need a diet... I just needed another year to grow up instead of out... but I was convinced I was fat? The girls at school told me I was? I certainly didn't look like the chicks on Beverly Hills 90210. I lost 15 pounds... but constantly "watched" what I ate through High School... "watching" it became a little obsessive in College....

Recently, I have appreciated companies like Unilever and their Dove Campaign for Real Beauty as well as their efforts to positively impact realistic self esteem for young girls... If you have a moment check out these links :[cp-documentid=8354359]/[cp-documentid=8354359]/

Some shocking statistics.. 75% of young girls are unhappy with their physical appearance.. this scares me. I'm glad I have a son. How do you teach a young girl as well as yourself that beauty comes in all shapes, colors and sizes. That the beautiful women on TV and on the cover of the magazine have been nipped, tucked, sucked, airbrushed and photo shop'd until they are really just imaginary women... No wonder women are crazy!! I recently saw The Women with one of my best girl friends and it was a great film.. Annette Benning sums it up:

Now I'm 31.. I'm still worried about crows feet, gravity, laugh lines... stretch weight.. AHHH!! It's craziness. Even with all of these worries of aging and time marching on across my body.. I figure this body with red hair and freckles is really just my vehicle for getting through life. After 31 years, I'm getting pretty good at handling my vehicle and learning that maybe I don't need to trade it in for a better model? Somebody get me a cupcake.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Technology Sucks

Technology sucks. Okay maybe it doesn't... but I'm so frustrated with technology right now I could just scream. I'm over all these devices that are suppose to make my life easier giving me attitude. I want my Blackberry, Laptop, iPod, Oven and life to be normal again. Good grief!

I came back from a trip last week to boot up my laptop at the office, all ready to conquer the world and I get what I'm now told is the Blue Screen of Death.... I'm now on my 3rd re-imaged (what the heck does that mean) laptop...While they are at it can they get me a new image too?

I left my new Blackberry on the table at a wedding Saturday night...only to come back after "busting a move" to a huge crack across the screen of my new Blackberry Curve..our relationship has only just begun and I've already flawed her...hopelessly... that's what I get for dancing..

I get so frustrated when trying to explain IT issues to the crew at the office. I just want to turn the damn thing on and have it do what it's suppose to do. I want my files to be where I left them in "My Documents" and I want my Blackberry to NOT have a crack in the screen. I just got this one and now I have to process a stupid claim through the insurance provider, wade the bureaucracy at the office to get back on the Blackberry server, download all of my ringtones, pics etc., THIS IS MADNESS.

I'd like to take this piece of crap laptop out in the parking lot...throw it on the ground with the Blue Screen of Death still staring me down, start up my VW and drive over it... then get out, pick it up, and throw it.. then maybe jump up and down on it in my sassy shoes... piece of crap.. AHHH !! I just want my files back. I document crap and keep redlines of documents because I need them. Can you hear me now?

Damn you!- stupid, piece of crap computer... damn you! person who cracked the screen of my blackberry and didn't have the decency to own up to it... damn you! arrogant, IT people who look at me like I'm an idiot...damn you! oven at my house that makes beeping noises with F1 & F2 blinking on the screen and only stops after I hit "clear" what feels like 200 times.

I just want to bake something without with without drama.. and not get pissed off every time I look at my cracked Blackberry screen.

Wow. That was cleansing.. I feel better.

Please no comments about how I should back up my work, get a Mac, or get a life. Sell crazy someplace else...we're all stocked up here.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

It Takes a Village

The other day I was watching Cole play with his choo choos, cars, and favorite toys of the moment. It was his birthday not too long ago so we're still weeding our way thru all new toys. We stumbled upon one still in the package.. Cole was wrestling with getting the package open...
"Bubba can I help you with that?" I asked... "No mommy..I do it.."

God reveals our character to us by giving us children..who emulate us and our habits both good and bad. Then He chuckles when we struggle with being the parent to our character flaws. My Mr. Independent son was like a big dose of reality for me. I do own a T-shirt that says "I can do it!" I am really really bad at asking for help. I'm also really bad at accepting it or admitting that I need it, but I am getting a little better. Not so long ago I had an epiphany... I thought that I'm usually the person who helps out other people. I'll generally do what I can and show up in a time of need. I reciprocate. I give back...why can't I take a little too?

Someone really special to me frequently says " I don't need anyone or anything" half joking of course, but I usually respond with "Yes you do.." We all do. We weren't meant to figure out the journey by ourselves. Needing people and helping people, caring and depending upon other helps us make sense of this thing called life. I am frequently made better by the people who stumble into my life. So yes, I need them.

Which brings me to "It Takes a Village" which is a theory and book by Hillary Clinton. In it she basically advocates the importance of extended family and community to raise a child. I know lots of you don't agree with her politics, but she hit home for me with this. She's right. We need a Village. What has surprised me in the past year is who showed up for me in my time of need. My close circle of friends showed up for me in every way imaginable. My neighbors who are constantly looking out for me. My family. The new friends that have made their way into my heart and my life..

But there is one family that has really been there for me every step of the way.

I remember the day I realized that the "thing" I had been hiding from and covering up and ashamed of was my marriage. I was at church. The sermon was about letting go of these things.. of giving them up to God. My pastor had set up trays of sand throughout the sanctuary so that we could write it in the sand individually, pray about it, and let it go. I am guessing you can figure out what I wrote in the sand that day.

The following week I sought out a therapist. I met my pastor for coffee and began the process of trying to fix my marriage with the guidance of professionals because my solo attempts over the past year had failed miserably. I was given some very real challenges by my pastor and therapist. I did my homework. I learned the lessons and then there came a time where all I did (it felt like) was pray about it and I felt like God answered. I couldn't fix it by myself. I needed to burn my "I can do it!" T-shirt because I've learned I can't. Admitting it has been liberating.

I met my Pastor for coffee again one Friday morning...months later. He would be one of the hardest people to tell that I wasn't going to make it work, but I needed his insight on how to make sure that I made it easiest for Cole. How could I make sure I put him around positive male role models so that he would grow to be a good man? He never really answered me..other than to tell me that my focus needed to be on Cole and to pray. I guess on some level I expected to receive a verbal lashing and a reminder of the sin of divorce, but all I received was compassion and acceptance.

He never really answered me, but his amazing wife who's a pro with children now watches Cole during the work week. She just totes Cole everywhere and I love it. My pastor spends time with Cole.. Cole can now say "Starbucks" as it is a favorite hang out but I'm glad because since he began spending time with Cole.. Cole is no longer afraid of men, seeks them out and now openly gives hugs. Their daughters babysit for me all the time so I can actually have a break.... they took us in.

I have a pretty awesome Village. While there isn't the police officer, the construction worker, the Indian, the biker, or a military man and we don't sing "Macho Man" or "YMCA" there's me, Cole, and a lot of really special people who have accepted us along the way.

Alrighty.. I have a cup of coffee to finish. Holla!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thoughts on the Road

Thoughts from the Road

I don't talk much about what I do.. probably because a long time ago I came to the realization that it's what I do, it's not who I am. To summarize I am a site acquisition girl for a national retailer. Simply put: that means that when you see a store for the retailer I represent- I'm part of the team that found the site, negotiated the deal, the lease and managed the general transaction. If real estate were a circus, I'd be the clown juggling all the balls. The balls being the parties to a deal: Lawyers, brokers, clients, and landlords. I make sure everyone stays warm and fuzzy until we open a door and commence selling our product. Essentially, I'm an overpaid babysitter to grown men.
Most of my work is done from an office or I can day trip to cover my splendid territory that is Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. I wish I got to go cool places like Boston, San Francisco, or New York- but I get to figure out how to get to places like Natchitoches, Louisiana and the Rio Grande Valley of Texas..good times. Sometimes my travels are solo missions and sometimes I'm traveling with my team and find myself in the back of a TrailBlazer, a party to some interesting conversations. Here are some of my deep thoughts for the trip this week:
  1. It has been proven that on average men speak 15,000 words per day, while women speak 30,000 words per day. I think this theory is a load of crap. The guys I work with talk way more than I ever thought about talking. I respect the members of my team, but sometimes I wonder if their ego drives them to talk as much as they do and have told them I thought this...they usually laugh at me.
  2. I feel fortunate that the guys I work with find decent potty stops for me and don't make me use nasty gas station bathrooms, but if necessary I'll hang at the gas station with lots of anti bacterial goodness once I get to the car..
  3. Politics. Never talk politics in a car on a two lane highway in the middle of no where Texas. I'm not extremely conservative nor am I extremely liberal, but the conversation of my co-workers made my blood boil. I have some strong opinions about this election and sometimes I feel that uber conservative beliefs are nothing more than sticking your head in the sand and being resistant to change. Do your research and decide and respect every person's opinion and/or vote. Blanket "Liberals are idiots" statements aren't really necessary are they?
  4. Hunting and deep sea fishing - I've got nothing to contribute to this conversation.
  5. Women are crazy conversations. Have I really become so much of one of the guys that I get to be party to these conversations?
  6. Sports- I pay attention to sports so I can keep up with the conversation when necessary
  7. Cars- I can keep up with this conversation, but really, I'm starting to find some validation in the fact that men who drive sports cars are compensating for something...unless you're retired and it's all about the fun factor..then it's okay.

Perhaps the best conversation of the trip is the "good ole day" conversation. The 80s when Real Estate was booming. My client was a developer and living the good life. Big house. More money then he could spend. Leveraged to the hilt. The broker I work with, his Dad was a big developer..same story. Both of them lost it all in the real estate bust. They spoke of how it was really ridiculous, the life of excess.. the "things" and the "status" that consumed them. That is was really God intervening in their life bringing them back to center when they lost it all and had to start again...meaning that had to live a much more humble existence. My client is one of the most Godly men I know and now lives a very modest life. The broker I work with confessed that he just wants a simple life.

I reflected.. I'm so glad my family, my life, hasn't been about keeping up with the "image." I haven't had a life of ridiculous excess... I gave up apologizing for my working class roots a very long time ago and I've decided that it's usually the really insecure people in the world that need to boast about "things" or "money" or "status." My family taught me the value of hard work and gave me every opportunity, but really strived to focus on people rather than things. I'm glad I can sit quietly in the back seat of the TrailBlazer on mute and not get my 30,000 word quota in. You learn to be thankful for your simple existence.

Gifts from Cole

Cole missed me. Which is nice, but being a two year old he shows me he missed me by punishing me with tantrums and melodrama..I was still glad to see my little man after being stuck in what felt like "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" on repeat. We ate dinner. We went outside to play..where Cole gave me several gifts. Two leaves and a handful of rocks that he was calling "cookies"

But the best gift from Cole was at bath time. I ran the bath and put Eucalyptus oil in my little man's bath because his allergies are bothering him.. and some bubbles. As we sat and talked he said "Mommy?" he then proceeded to grab his man part and make his own fountain... I had to duck to keep from feeling the spray. "Potty Mommy..." "Wow!!!"" I'm officially in boy overload..

After cleaning up and getting Cole to bed, I took my own bubble bath, did some laundry, and climbed into bed. I needed to refill my estrogen container after the last couple of I watched my TiVo'd Dancing with the Stars.. did some praying and found myself really looking forward to some shopping with my girlfriends..

Friday, September 19, 2008

Down to One

So "Down to One" is a good song by the great Melissa Etheridge. One of the best lines of the song is "sooner or later we all end up walking alone.." I've found myself thinking a lot about this. It's so true.

If, at some point, we're all alone.. I guess we better learn to love the one we're with. Right? I consider myself fairly lucky in that I enjoy my own company. I didn't always, but I'm thankful that after college and before I married.. I lived alone for nearly three years. It was during this time that I learned to tackle some ridiculous issues with doing things on my own. I lived alone with my dog "Sophie." I went to church alone. I went to movies alone. I went shopping alone. I worked out alone. The ultimate step in my "graduation" when I was a twenty something single girl was to sit at a table in a restaurant by myself and eat a meal...alone. I was reminded how far I've come this week, when between an appointment and a meeting, I pulled into my favorite salad dive and enjoyed my lunch on the patio, under the trees all by myself and loved every minute of it. I was thinking "I should have a date with myself more often.." This is nice. I read a chapter of a book. Turned off my Blackberry and just enjoyed the weather and my own company. I'm pretty decent company.

The point, I guess, is I'm so glad I had those years on my own. I think time like that gives us security that we can be alone, and if we chose not to be alone then that's huge. You can enter into relationship because you want to, not because you feel like you have to in order to avoid your own company.

When I first moved into my little apartment post college by myself. I HATED it. It was horrible. I'd just broken up with a long term boyfriend and here I was in this dumpy one bedroom apartment working my first real job, struggling to make ends meet. After a while I embraced it. I adopted Sophie. I decorated it. It was mine. I did what I wanted to, when I wanted to. I learned to do those things by myself. I learned to be good at my job. I made some great friends. I grew up. And when I got married and moved out of that dumpy apartment... I sort of grieved the loss of my single self. It happened on moving day. The family had gone ahead with the U-Haul to the house we were moving into. I'd stayed behind to clean up the apartment a little bit... my gal pal Rhonda had taken a load of the misc crap down to the car... I was alone in my little apartment. I just became sort of overcome. I started crying about the time my cell phone started ringing... it was my Dad.. "Ash where do you want me to put this..." He was calling to ask. He could tell I was crying. "What are you crying for?" He asked... " I don't know Daddy.." I replied. He said " I know what it is.. you don't want to leave that apartment because it's who you were before you got married..and it was yours.. now where am I putting this table?" That's so my Dad. He just throws the profound out there and moves on along before you have time to blink.. But he was right.

Time alone makes us who we are. So that we can be better when the right relationship does come along. It gives us perspective so we don't feel like we have to settle.

I have to give a shout out to one of my best girlfriends this week. One of the women who showed me how to embrace living alone. Because she's so comfortable in her own skin, she sent a seemingly nice (although a little aggressive) guy packing. You know who you are...I'm talking to you and I'm on your side. Glad you're not settling to avoid being alone. I'm proud of you.

OK that's all I've got. I'm done with my salad for lunch. I've typed this blog and it's time to get back to it. Holla!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Cole James

I cannot believe that two years ago today I brought the most amazing little guy into the world. I was terrified, but the moment I held him my life changed. He looked at me with one eye open and my heart melted. I thanked God and realized that a life dream had come true. I'd always wanted a son and here he was. This perfect little creature that I had been entrusted to nurture through life.

I named him Cole because I felt it was a strong and timeless name. James because it's a family name on my Mom's side and one of the kindest, strongest, most compassionate men I ever knew was my grandfather James Thomas.

Those first few days I would hold Cole and openly sob because never could I have imagined loving someone so much. My ex was sure I was suffering from post partum depression, but I was really just overcome with joy. I felt so vulnerable. It was amazing.

I had every kind of sling imaginable. I wore Cole everywhere. I held him. I nursed him. I swaddled him, rocked him and soothed him. This precious little gift. When he was up in the middle of the night, that's when I would have some fairly serious conversations with God about the awesome responsibility He had given me with Cole. I'd pray. Pray for the wisdom to get it right. The patience to make the right decisions. The love to forgive all. The strength to be his Mom. The time to make an impression. These conversations with God led to a lot of raw emotion. It made me realize so many things about myself. It made me want to be a better person and I've sought to grow and become that person.
Leaving Cole to go back to work was so hard. I was able to be with him for 14 weeks and work from home quite a bit until he was 6 months old. The guilt was overwhelming, but really I had no choice. I am a working mother. I struggle with it often, but I'm hoping one day Cole will see that I manged to balance it. Sometimes not very well, but he's being raised by a strong, independent woman. Maybe that will help him learn to appreciate one in his adult life.

All of this before he ever even muttered Mommy. As the months have passed it has been amazing to watch Cole develop his own little personality. He's so tough and stubborn. Independent and feisty. He's smart and he's loving. He's funny. I hope I'm showing him how to be a Godly man. I'm hoping that he'll be compassionate and know how very much I love him. He's so chatty (I have no idea where he gets it from) He goes to sleep talking and wakes up talking. He's smiling most of the time. Running around most of the time. Such a joy for me. Especially when he says "Ok Mommy.." " Night Night Mommy.." "Love you Mommy.." when he says "No Mommy.." not so great...When he sits down on the ground and looks at me like "make me Mommy" again- not so great. When he finds and plays with Tobie's poo like yesterday...REALLY not so great...

I've blogged openly about my struggle with my divorce. The greatest weight in my decision was, of course, for Cole. I spent most of my life making decisions, staying out of trouble and away from boys because I didn't want to be a single Mom. Look how that turned out for me? God does have a sense of humor doesn't He? Someday, when he asks, I'll be honest with Cole about what happened between his father and I. I assure him constantly that his Dad loves him very much.

Two years. It has gone by so quickly. I can't believe it. What happens when I'm writing about his 18th birthday..What kind of man will my son be? Will I be able to give him every opportunity? Enough time? Will he hate me for the decisions I've made? These are the things that weigh on me. For the most part, I was able to keep it together while going through what I've been going through. Cole rarely saw me cry, but I cannot lie. There have been days in the past when it was too overwhelming. I'm embarrassed to admit this as we are to be strong for our kids. On one particular day (I'll call it my rock bottom) I just sat down on the kitchen floor..sobbing (quietly)..hoping Cole would pay attention to the Max and Ruby episode I'd just turned on and not me. Around the corner he toddled. "Mommy?" When he saw me, he put his arms around me and said "It's okay Mommy.." and then he sat down in front of me and smiled. How do you keep crying after that?

At almost two, Cole was right. It has been okay and it will continue to be okay. I find my greatest joy in being Cole's Mom. I've become stronger and wiser being Cole's Mom. I've known more sorrow and happiness being a Mom than I ever thought imaginable and it has been amazing. I've been changed by my son. I am thankful and grateful for the past two years. I cannot wait to watch him grow.

So Happy Birthday Cole James. I love you.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Week In Review

I've had one of those weeks. I probably should have stayed in bed. Nothing catastrophic, but annoying all the same.

So last Friday I had a flat tire. If you know me well, you know that I don't know how to change a flat tire. I'm embarassed to admit it, but I just don't. I can negotiate real estate deals, support myself, fix a lot of stuff around the house, make dinner, take care of Cole, multi task like there's no tomorrow.. but my version of changing a flat tire has been to walk to a pay phone (before there were cell phones) or call from my cell phone (when I finally got one) "Daddy, I have a flat tire..." I'm a little better now. I'll call roadside or AAA. Luckily, I was able to get my hands on some fix a flat and drive to NTB..where they repaired the tire.

Tuesday I had the customer service experience from *ell at the store I affectionately call Worst Buy... never, ever do the in store pick up. The morons managed to get me the wrong darn cable. I won't go into the entire experiece, but good grief. So by the time I got home with the wrong darn cable and needed it to hook something up to my TV,well that involved me getting extremely agitated and going back to the store where on the way I got behind some crazy teenage driver on the main street out of my community and when I passed him that's when the HVPD clocked me and I got pulled over for speeding. Damn you Worst Buy!! On a positive note: I negotiated my way out of the ticket and drove away with a warning.

Wednesday right hand failed to communicate. My Blackberry 8703e died. Tragically. I was just getting the track wheel good and worn in. It only had a few scuff marks from Cole chucking it across the room. I had downloaded all of these cool ringtones from and then he (Blackberry) went and checked out on me. Damn you Blackberry!! When you represent a National Retailer who happens to be a wireless provider living without a pda/cell phone for 24 hours is similar to shipping off to Mars for the night or something. I'm expected to be dialed in.

After two hours at the wireless store, I left with the new Blackberry Curve. I'll let you know how our relationship progresses, but so far I'm digging the name: "Curve" I like anything that says curve. I'm a curvy girl. I've got some junk in the trunk so I think the Curve might just be the right PDA for me. I'll let you know.

When I departed the Wireless store I ran home and took Tobie to the PetsHotel for a play day/ grooming session. On our way in this nice guy with a German Shepard stopped to talk to us.. in the process Tobie yanked me across the green area and got about four inches of mud on my favorite peep toe, patent leather pumps, and because they are "peep toe" mud all up in my shoes and on my feet. Nice. We ran into the PetsHotel Manager (who loves Tobie) outside and she walked us in and witnessed the German Shepard exchange, gave a paper towel for my shoe and even helped me find some Bitter Apple so Togo will quit chewing on his paw. I dumped Tobie and headed back to the office...

By the time I landed at the office, the PetsHotel called to let me know that two fleas jumped off Tobie during playtime and she thought Tobie had picked them up from the German Shepard because he didn't have any flea dirt (what?) on him and no other signs that he'd been living with fleas. Damn you "man with the German Shepard!!" But she felt bad that Tobie had picked up the fleas under her watch and comp'd our day at the PetsHotel. Nice! I still felt the need to clean my house from top to bottom last night and crawled in bed just before midnight.

Finally today, I drop Cole off..drop my favorite teenagers at school on my way to the at my favorite Starbucks to stumble in for some coffee and my key won't come out of the ignition of my car. It's stuck. I wrestle with it for a few minutes...then decide the morning will look so much better with some coffee. So I grab my wallet, my curve (to call someone when my car gets stolen) and stumble into Starbucks...where inevitably in front of me is the chick who's looking at the menu and says " Umm like.. I usually get a carmel macchiotto..but I'm sort of over it..what do you think?" The Barista runs through some drink choices and the ding bat is just sitting there twirling her hair going.."umm no..I don't think so.." Finally she orders. Then she wants a pastry. The process starts over again... I very nearly screamed " I'm suffering from PMS, I need coffee before my car gets stolen...go audition for the new Legally Blonde sequel or something... and get outta the way." I refrained. It wouldn't have been very nice of me....

I get to the counter..order my tall drip in a grande cup and get the heck outta dodge before I body slam the ding bat.. luckily my faithful VW is still parked in the lot (running) with the key in the ignition. I drive straight to the VW dealership where they are able to solve my problem. My faithful VW is becoming unfaithful. What to do?

There you have it. My week in review. As I reflect, I'm painfully aware that, yes, all these things did happen. At least my cell phone didn't die on the same day I got my flat tire, with a key stuck in the ignition of the car? I did negotiate my way out of a ticket and make a new Curvy friend...Someone's looking out for me I suppose.