Waiting to Exhale

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On a Wednesday in October, I realize for the first time, with surprise, that I’m no longer waiting.
Instead I’m choosing.
It’s the yoga, the hard work, the thinking, meditating, listening, and asking questions, dancing, doing, breathing, digging oh-so-very-deep, the Warrior Sisters and Chuck. I exhale. And feel myself exhale yet again.
The thought falls into my head in the middle of a busy day and yet, I know it’s true. I’m no longer waiting. At some point the waiting disappeared.
I’m inhaling, exhaling and living. Making choices, living with these same choices and I know deep in my soul and my heart…I’M NO LONGER WAITING.
This is big.
This is HUGE.
For so many years, I felt as if I was waiting…not living at all. I felt at the mercy of other people’s choices and decisions. NO MORE. I’m exhaling on my own.
For so many years, I was constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. And believe me when I say, that other shoe almost crushed me. The intention was to squash and quiet me. It did for a while. It left me always wondering…when when when.
A brilliant Warrior reminded me that “that shoe” will always drop. But THAT is NOT my world. Not anymore. I can’t control narcissist crazy and really, I refuse to think about it. When it happens, and it will, it will continue to….I will exhale.
There are other areas in my life where I now feel and know I am living. No longer holding my breath for other people to make choices. I AM THE ONE MAKING CHOICES for myself. BIG exhale on that! We might not even think this is happening as we negotiate our way through our day and life. Making choices is a bad-ass way to live. And can be scary. However, what I’ve learned by experience is that I would rather be on my own, making my own choices because that’s part of my truth. In addition, choices and negotiation can be positive when you have the opportunity to choose and negotiate with real partners, real friends, those who have your back. Eye opening for me.
I also realize that I’m not playing by the rules of others anymore. I left that old me in the rear-view mirror. The truth has always been right in front of me, in my heart and my soul. I just lost site of the horizon for a while because I forgot to exhale. I now keep the horizon with its incredible views right in front of me. It’s part of my true north. One this same day when I realize I’ve exhaled I’m outside at night and as the stars begin to emerge, they are twinkling at me. I exhale.
Trust. Maybe that’s it. I am trusting more. I’ve put a lot of trust in myself, the Universe and the intentions that the truth sets us free. The truth shows us the way. Exhaling into this, I send positive messages of energy and love to those who need it from me….even if they don’t realize it. I will continue to do so with every fiber of my being.
On the same day I realize I’ve exhaled, I wake in the middle of the night and I hear myself say, “You are here.” Like on a map. I actually see the little red arrow: “You are here.” Not there. Here. I have to trust that this map which I’m creating will continue to show me the way. Though I’m incredibly direction impaired, something tells me with this map, I know the directions. Always have. Always will.
Like my house, my systems haven’t quite meshed yet….it takes a while. And during this time I am understanding that transition equals transformation (thank you Jennifer Cooper for reminding us). Transforming into a Warrior I am proud be. I am more awake and alive than I’ve ever been. Energy, hope, love and truth assist with this transition, transformation and map reading. I am building the future, no longer waiting for it. I choose. I read the map.
The universe continues to enlighten me. On the same day that I’ve realized I’ve exhaled this arrived via e-mail from Brave Living:
“Dear Moving-Forward Girl,

Sometimes things happen in life that are very unfair and very painful…things that make us want to drop everything and tell our side of the story. We want to shout from the rooftops about what happened and how it got portrayed unfairly.

Just keep being you. Just keep moving forward. Keep focused on where you want to end up and who you want to be with and how you want to feel.

Don’t ever let a situation turn you into someone you are not. Be you. The truth will always reveal itself.

You are strong enough. Be true….and just keep being true.”
Who knows what the next phase will bring any of us. Whenever I get overwhelmed, I think, it’s not the end…it’s just right now. Trust the map. Continue to exhale. Be my own truth.
I’m gonna make it after all.

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Show me how you Burlesque

Show me how you burlesque
From where I come from, the journey that I’ve been on, there are two things that will make me question our friendship.
Always be honest.
Even if you think it might hurt, always be honest. Be honest gently, and gently honest and not in a self-centered way. But have the guts to be honest. With me, with yourself. Is it easy? Nope. Is it better in the long and short run? Yes. 100 percent without a shadow of a doubt yes. Talk to me. Communicate, don’t talk at me and for heaven’s sake, LISTEN too.
Second.
Don’t surprise me. Don’t blindside me.
I lived with surprises for so many years, and yes, though I ended on my feet each and every time, an optimistic survivor, do not blindside me. Nothing and I repeat, nothing will make me doubt and re-think my feelings about you more. And nothing will make me want to walk the other way faster. Surprises about anything. Have the courage and the heart and soul to respect me enough to NOT surprise me.
I bet you are thinking at this point, somebody hasn’t been completely honest and blindsided me with a surprise.
You would be right.
But here’s the thing.
I thought THAT was the important part. That a friend I trusted (and yes, now I question “friend”) not only wasn’t completely honest, but felt that blind-siding me with information “in person” was the way to do it. How about, if we are the friends you claim us to be, because in your words, “I enjoy our friendship”, call me, give me a heads up and mostly, trust that the truth will be okay. At some point and in some way. It’s not “what” you say, but what you “do” and how you respect friends that counts in my book. (And seriously, yet another self-absorbed narcissist? Yes…and an adjective is needed so you know exactly what I speak of.)
Trust the journey.
That’s all I kept thinking. Trust the journey.
“There are better things out there than this for you”, a Warrior texted to me. How right she is.
I just have to believe it. And every day, I do.
Here’s what I discovered: I wasn’t completely listening either. AND I wanted something to be a certain way and it wasn’t going to go that way. Actually, interestingly enough, that is exactly what Karyn said in yoga this week, “Just because we think a plan is THE plan, sometimes it’s not.”
And… when it’s time to let go of something or someone…it’s revealed to you.
As always, I thought I would use my words and my new found voice to express my feelings once I had thought it through. This caused my stomach to hurt. Intuition?
Instead, I headed into Kim Bolourtchi’s dance class Saturday morning. The second I hit the dance floor after a big hug from Kim and she started us dancing, I felt myself KNOW, “You are okay. This is NOT your doing. You were honest, if a little delusional. You do NOT have to do anything more. Your silence speaks volumes. And, this person does NOT deserve your thoughts, much less your friendship or energy. “
Fortunately, Kim played Show Me How Your Burlesque and while we danced it out, I heard:
“Hit it up, get it up
This is not a test
Hit it up, get it up
Gotta give me your best
Show me how your burlesque”

How I burlesque?! Care, consideration and respect, honesty, that’s HOW I burlesque. For me, this reinforced that this is MY life, my choice and I can and will decide who to let in. HOW I burlesque.
After class I told Kim what had happened, starting out, “This may sound odd, but being here, dancing with you, YOU, YOUR SPIRIT, YOUR ENERGY, YOU, centered me.”
She smiled that Kim smile. “It was you. I provided the safe space, the loving space, but you knew this all along. You had the answer. I provided the place for you to find it. But it was in your center.” How right she was. Centered. From a place of strength. That’s how I burlesque.
Knowing in my heart and every cell of my body that I needed and wanted to continue to be around positive loving energy. That I wouldn’t be expending anymore energy on a friendship that needed much more honesty, care, consideration, and respect that wasn’t available. I’ve come too far not to expect this. I’ve come too far on my journey not to receive this.
I realized that I actually do trust the journey and if I think about it, I’ve trusted the journey all along even if I didn’t know it. It brought me this far. And I will continue to trust that there are better things out there than this for me. I’m gonna make it after all.
Let me show you HOW I burlesque….

Embracing the Chaos

She Began

It’s 9 am on a Friday morning and I have just driven 30 minutes to get to my old gym. Yes, I drove 30 minutes past a million other gyms in order to get to classes I love with people I’ve become friends with. I can’t give it up. Apparently, I am not the only one. My always smiling-happy friend Elizabeth who works at my gym asked me how it was going. When I explained that there was so much change and that’s why I keep driving all the way out to my gym, my comfort/safe zone, she laughed and said she was doing the same.

Too much has changed for me. My location, my grocery store, my Target and Trader Joe’s. I have new routes to get everywhere, new routines, new places that things live (most of which I forgot where I stored). It’s a long drive and I’ve been advised to listen to pod-casts. At this point, the quiet and the music are nice. NPR has great interviews, too.

I was willing and able to go with the other changes-setting up and creating a home that is all my own. Making choices about Uverse vs. Direct TV, auto-pay vs being billed. Replacing cabinets. Deciding where furniture will go. Yard work. Oh, and more yard work.

Figuring out how all these changes are part of my life, this new journey I had hoped and prayed for. Is it scary? You bet. Are all the changes producing anxiety? Yes. Is it also really fun? More than I ever thought possible. I’ve painted a bedroom with my Sister-Friend Carolyn, grouted my shower (and ended up covered in the sticky stuff). I’ve learned about lighting, electrical things, appliances, water heaters and locksmiths. And while I’ve tried to encourage myself to live all this with my sunny optimism, there have been tears of frustration and sadness.

All part of life. A Warrior asked me if I could, “Embrace the chaos and the unknown and be in the moment.” Yes, I actually can do that-with a LOT of help, often finding the solution once I ask for help!

However I feel like every time I turn around there’s something else! And that’s part of life, too. I’ve taken to breathing (five counts in, five counts out). The something else was causing all the low-level anxiety until this same Warrior reminded me, “You’ve been to battle. You are OKAY in this moment. You WILL be okay. Try saying that to yourself.”

It works.

For the first week I was completely unscheduled and that drove me crazy. I realized that I need some sort of structure in order to feel productive. I was becoming more aware of my natural routines. I realized I had to just try to do ONE productive task every day, and that could mean getting to Home Depot for the millionth time.

I had packed and moved three times in the last year. I had lightened my load considerably and once I began unpacking here, I realized there was much more that no longer served me. Two car-loads went to Goodwill. Three car-loads from Lowes, Target and Bed Bath and Beyond found their way home, too. Only that which brings me joy surrounds me now. I moved boxes of pictures and kid art downstairs, except those that bring me extreme smiles. It not only cleared out the room, it made space in my head and my heart.

I actually love not negotiating anything. Whatever decisions are to be made, whatever choices, mistakes and opportunities…they are mine. I am working on embracing these feelings too. This perhaps is a bigger challenge than I thought. On the other hand, why not?

And so while I’m embracing the change, I am giving myself time and space for further healing and exploration of the life and future I’m living and creating. It is part of the reward for perseverance and faith in myself. I am free…and as Chuck texted, “Live long and prosper.” Embracing the chaos the best way I know how. By thinking, talking, asking for help, reaching out, walking, breathing…trusting myself.

In true Universe fashion, I am quite aware that I have choices. I can resist or I can embrace. For the most part, I believe I have been doing my best to embrace the change. I also know deep in my soul if I embrace/celebrate/applaud my new FREE life, chaos and all, this enables me to truly find joy, happiness and peace. Deep breath.

I am okay…in this moment of complete chaos.

Ice Cream in the Freezer

IMG_0785.JPG Ice Cream in the Freezer

It’s a Tuesday night (or a Sunday night or a Friday night) and my sister and I are watching Hallmark movies or a Partridge Family marathon. We’ve already decided that it’s “An ice cream night”! sometime earlier in the day one of us has texted the other that ice cream is on the agenda for the evening.
A LOT of ice cream has been eaten this year
A LOT.
At any one time we had 7 pints of Haagan-Dazs, Talenti, Friendly’s and Ben and Jerry’s. I have to give this one to my sister-she introduced me to chocolate peanut butter and it took off from there. Whenever Haagan-Dazs was on sale (for an omg $3.50 a pint) we stocked up on before mentioned peanut butter chocolate, as well as mint chip, chocolate chocolate chip (another Staci favorite), salted peanut butter crunch and mint cookie crunch.
Suffice is to say, my clothes don’t fit.
I wouldn’t trade these ice cream nights for anything.
For the past year my sister Staci and I have leased a house together, the Beach House we called it, (mostly because everything was falling apart and it reminds me of a beach rental) in Chesterfield. We had both sold houses and I knew it would be a year of transition for me, trying to figure out what I wanted going forward, where I was going and how I was going to handle it all. In addition, we split all expenses for utilities which made living reasonable. It was a good year for both of us. We cooked together, and separately; it was like living in a dorm or apartment with your girlfriend, “good morning” and “good night”, “trash needs to go out”, “can you feed Crosby?”, and so much more.
My year with my sister saved me. She has said countless times how much I’ve changed and I know it’s because of the peace, calm and FUN we had at our Beach House this year. I needed and wanted someone around who actually spoke English (versus dog) and I also needed the incredible support she offered. In the past she offered me a safe haven in her home and this past year living with her was fun, challenging (oh yes, anytime there is more than one person, thought or idea) and a special time I will always remember. It was a year of fun, growing, disappointment, chaos, new experiences and adventures and a lot of ice cream.
When we moved in she thought it would be a good idea to empty all the boxes. Except for kitchen storage, I did just this which I knew would make the next move easier. The Beach House held a combination of furniture, stuff, shoes (a LOT of shoes) and of course much ice cream.
We never quite know where life will take us. Sometimes I would wake up and wonder where I was, and yet, the Beach House offered such peace and tranquility. Quite a nice change to have a stress-less environment to feel safe within. Somehow I knew this was important to build for myself. And with my sister and Crosby, we settled into our routines.
My sister works quite a bit out of the house and I work from home every day so we would not only be ships passing in the mornings or night, often we were home at the same time.
People reacted in one of two ways when they found out we were living together. Either they said, “Totally cool! I wish I could live with my sister!” or they were horrified, “That would never work for my sister and I.” These looks were quite amusing. Having a room-mate, sister or not isn’t for everyone. I found it fun and enjoyed the extended time we had together. Often we were making breakfast at the same time or late at night one of us had a thought that we needed to share with the other.
It’s different than texting.
It’s an experience that I knew I was open to and I am so incredibly grateful she was too. I knew I didn’t want to live on my own coming out of that big house. And renting a house gave us amazing individual space. We had common living areas, but also private space. Did I see this move coming? Could I have imagined so many years ago that I would somehow have the honor and extreme LUCK to live with my sister for a year as grownups?
In our backyard we had a herd of deer. Gorgeous, bold deer that had no fear of me or my dog-early in the mornings, afternoons and late at night. Often they would appear to be walking towards us as if to try to engage. Sure, during the daytime this might be okay, but on one of the first nights we were there I was out in the pitch dark alone with Crosby and there was a HERD OF DEER. I freaked out, Crosby freaked out, we both ran in the house and the next day I bought a GIANT light to take out with me. I tried bells, noise, anything. The deer, it seemed, the two seasons of babies we saw and all the adults had decided our yard was their yard. Our backyard also played host to a bald eagle, a platypus, giant crows and a baby bunny. Maybe they had heard about the ice cream nights?
In May when we had to make a decision I was willing to consider continued living together. My sister, wise one that she is said, “You need to live alone. You have to move on. If you don’t now, you never will.”
I knew she was right.
We both set about finding new places-separately.
Planning to move out two days apart, we went to the Journey concert together to celebrate the end of our year in the Beach House and our new JOURNEY’s forward. I asked Staci something and she said, “I don’t know when I will see you.”
Wait, what?
Isn’t there still ice cream to share, Hallmark movies to watch and Partridge Family marathons? Still things to laugh so hard about I cry?! Still conversations to have, experiences to share, adventures to take. Isn’t there still “good ideas”?!
Yes, there will be. In our separate new homes, together, we can still have ice cream and all those other things. Thanks for a great year, my sister, my friend.

Happily Ever After

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Let’s be real. If I would have titled this Crazy-Time, That Wandering Road Back to Myself, Other Lies and Stories Told About Me or the Long Way Home you most likely would have deleted it immediately.
Hang with me.
This made me think that EVERY story has more than two versions. Mine, yours, the Universe’s, anyone else involved. However, I have one more thing to say about the road to….Happily Ever After.
And then I know in my heart and soul, it’s time to move on. This morning in yoga Karen Fairchild Franklin once more reminded us, “In order to bring in the GOOD, you have to let go of the bad.” As many of you know I’ve been bringing in the good for many months now.
I know I simply cannot and will not devote any more energy to something that is in my past and I hope stays firmly in my past. There is NO room for anything except good energy, positive intentions, love, light and authenticity.
Because in my present (and yes, future…) I only have room for that which brings me joy. My friend and Warrior Sister Michelle offered this advice when I asked about keeping stuff from a previous world. “What do I do with all this _______?” fill in the blank. It’s anything we hang onto. Old shoes, paperwork, furniture, clothing (yes, I have a pink Calvin Klein t-shirt from 1982 in my closet because well, I love it) and even thoughts.
So, that OLD story, that OLD life, the OLD narrative that someone else is selling has no place in my present or my future. From crazy narratives that simply aren’t true there have been enough tears and stress. Kick that sh*&%$ to the curb.
I KNOW who I am. I KNOW my story. I KNOW my heart.
Anyone who knows us, our authentic us knows who we are and what is true. They and we feel it. When you connect with someone and the energy feels right no explanations are needed.
Maybe it’s just me.
Or maybe it’s just the long way home has taught me what’s really important to think and care about. As the yogi’s also say, “Only light brings light.” Love brings love. Positive energy brings about positive energy.
Old shoes, old paperwork, old furniture and OLD thoughts and stories have no place in this life I’m creating. The life I deserve and worked so hard to achieve. And while it was “hard” work because it was sad and angry, the journey that I am currently on holds little of these old feelings. I wonder if I will ever feel I’m on the other side of “Am I there yet?”
The journey is like a hiking trail. Which way do I turn now? Up, down, sideways, towards the trees, the mountains, the beach? It’s never ending if we are lucky. And if we are still here, our story is still unfolding… If we are open to love and light and peace. And mostly our true selves.
As I’ve been thinking about home and happily ever after I’ve been questioning what brings me joy. WHAT exactly is happily ever after for me?
I’m going to tell you AND I reserve the right to change my mind, my course and my actions at any time in the present and future.
For today? Happily ever after feels like this…
That which brings me joy and feels like happily ever after are the memories I have of my kids when they were little and it was the 3 of us every day playing in parks, playing street hockey, making banana bread and going to the pool. It’s the times of cuddling and snuggling watching movies and hearing their questions and their ideas. It’s those kids that I know the Universe is watching over. It’s the mother’s love that is deep in my soul and theirs.
That which brings me joy and feels like happily ever after are the times with friends near and far, those Warriors who answer the phone at any time of the day or night, talk me off ledges, laugh and cry with me. Those Warriors that I dance with see movies with and hike and bike with. Those Warriors, who love music and who, somehow know when to reach out. Those Warriors who’ve opened their hearts.
That which brings me joy and feels like happily ever after is about work and my vision and my inspiration. I’m awed by those people around me. I truly hope that my writing and ideas and my energy inspire everyone I come into contact with.
That which brings me joy and feels like happily ever after is acknowledging my resilience and optimism. Understanding I need to LET GO of anything that no longer belongs in my present. Happily ever after is feeling JOY whenever possible.
That which brings me joy and feels like happily ever after include Crosby. About 18 months ago I was sitting on the floor at the big house hysterical and crying. She wandered over to me, nosed my face and tried to climb into my lap (She’s an 88 pound German Shepherd.) I stood up and said, “I could use a hug.” She stood completely still and let me hug her. She’s 13 and able to learn a new trick/skill. Crosby, the Warrior Dog.
That which brings me joy and feels like happily ever after: yoga, dancing, weight lifting, swimming pools, beaches, concerts, happy hour, sewing something torn (really), thinking of new ways to utilize chocolate chips, reading an amazing book, time to write and think and learn and BE.
That which brings me joy and feels like happily ever after also means I can daydream about Prince Charming (read: Kevin Costner or Chris Pine). My Prince Charming isn’t going to ride in on a white horse (okay, he could), but once we find one another (and we will) there will be fun and adventure, laughter, love and listening. Oh, this brings me so much happiness to think about. And yes, I AM holding out for a hero. Setting my bar a little higher than just someone who can tell the truth.
So you see that EVERY story has more than two versions. Mine, yours, the Universe’s, anyone else involved. As for Happily Ever After…
Happily Ever After and THAT WHICH BRINGS ME JOY is knowing I HAVE SPUNK. And I’m gonna make it after all. Thanks for hanging with me to this point.

Money Money Money

Money Money Money

AS AN ASIDE AND BEFORE I GET STARTED….I’VE DECIDED THAT I’M MORE THAN READY TO LEAVE THE PAST BEHIND. IT’S MY TIME TO LIVE, LOVE AND BE IN THE PRESENT. TO CREATE NEW STORIES OF FUN AND ADVENTURE. AND SO, I REALIZE THAT MY PAST STORIES INFORM MY PRESENT TO A DEGREE, HOWEVER, AS I MOVE FORWARD EXPECT MY STORIES TO REFLECT MY MORE OF MY LIFE JOURNEY NOW. HAVING SAID THAT…I COULDN’T LET THIS GO.
I know. We are not supposed to talk about money. What it is, what it represents, who has it, who needs it, what we do with it or what we don’t do with it. Collectively we all just know or decided that it’s not a good idea to talk about money.
Kiss that goodbye.
I’m talking about money.
Because money is well…money.
Money to me is freedom.
For as long as I can remember I have thought of money as freedom. When I was younger and started babysitting at 12 and then working my first real job at 15 (at Swenson’s Ice Cream-I would have to walk to get there having no transportation, hoping a co-worker would give me a ride home) I thought about money as a way to make my own decisions and choices. Even as a teen, I used my own money to survive.
I put myself through college and graduate school with work, loans and scholarships. It was my only choice. And I viewed education as a way to independence. Luckily, for me, it was.
Full disclosure: I’m going to tell my truth here.
Money played a big role in my Stepford life. At first, poor as Church mice and then as life changed, opportunities came our way. This life did NOT happen in isolation. It took TWO WORKING partners-regardless of who “earned” the dollars. As a stay at home mom, a joint decision from early on-I “earned” income too. It fell on me to DO everything else. Which I did. For years. I “earned” that income too. In fact, without me, those dollars would have been harder to earn. I cleared the way so that jobs could be done excellently.
However, it came to pass that I didn’t know the entire story.
A partnership to me is exactly that. For me, a partner is that person (friend, spouse, relative, co-worker, because there can be many definitions of partner) who is honest, has integrity, is open to change and new ideas especially as life changes, able to roll with the punches without placing blame on anyone else, willing to be accountable and here’s the big one: a partner is someone who doesn’t steal, hide or manipulate to meet their own agenda or gain.
Sure, in the beginning, we discussed and planned and yet somewhere along the line, I was hustled OUT of discussions and decisions. I was told for years, “There is no money.” I was locked out of file cabinets, accounts and passwords WITH MY NAME ON THEM.
Until of course my name was no longer on them.
Huh. Think about that.
A partner removing another partner’s name that belonged to said partner.
In your wildest dreams, can you even imagine that?
It took my lawyer almost six months to access ANY of my own funds. And then almost two years for my funds to rightfully be returned. To me. My own money. That I earned. That I worked so hard for. More often than not at this point it felt like Monopoly money. I couldn’t see it or sense it.
Money.
And yet, it’s not all about money.
It’s about what money represents.
It was about narcissism, deception and outright stealing. There are so many positive ways the money that was spent in battle could have been used. So many people who could have been helped, so many places that could have used the funds in a practical way and it makes me sick to my stomach to think this hard-earned, well-saved money could have done so much more good in the world. This money I had to use for battle could have funded a small nation for two years.
Moving on.
I’ve been educating myself in the ways of money. What it is, what it can do, what I can do with it. How I can make sure that money is surrounded by positive, good energy from this day forward. My choices and decisions now come from abundance not scarcity. When I view my world and all the amazing choices and freedoms now available to me…abundance and light are the only descriptive words I think of. Generosity of spirit which can include actual dollars helps me too. I’m working on generosity of spirit each and every day.
I have PTSD about money. This will take me time to adjust and acclimate. Thinking about it and talking about it open and honestly helps.
I ask lots of questions. Luckily, I have a team that answers all of these questions, patiently while educating me and talking me off the ledge (see above about funds being used to better the world).
Never being a spend-thrift (have you seen my car?) I think long and hard about decisions. I also have a PLAN and this wonderful idea comes from my friends Mike and Teri Rosenbloom. I love to hear them talk about their choices and what they’ve taught their kids about money. They spent an evening talking me through logical steps forward which I will forever be grateful for. The most important idea: PLAN.
Yes, I have choice, and if I plan those choices feel so much better. I love to plan. It’s almost as fun as the actual purchase sometimes. In addition, when I plan I’m making short, intermediate and long-term decisions. From my own knowledge, research and ideas. Necessities and fun choices…these are mine…and all up to me. I hope that I can continue to look at money at something which brings joy.
I’ve decided (with a little help) that only that which brings me joy comes with me as I move forward. I realize that money can do that.
Money…its energy and choice, freedom…all with a plan.

Warrior Lawyers

from ann june 18 warrior woman

When you find yourself in a situation and you are out of your league, need someone with expertise that you don’t possess and/or you are in the fight of your life, you need someone smart. Good. Patient. Tolerant. Brilliant. Strategically-minded. Open-minded, willing to listen, learn and teach.
Two years ago I was lucky enough to stumble onto just such a team. Quite by chance I was on a radio program talking about a blog I had written about how moms need to recognize themselves as humans. Beside me sat guest Laura Boedges from Hightower who was talking about Second Saturday, her program for empowering divorcing women: (https://www.stltoday.com/lifestyles/parenting/sos-from-suburbia-empowering-divorcing-women/article_6df99878-3d1d-509f-b16d-8e9d75359bf8.html)
In the next few months I attended her workshop and at my request, she provided me with a list of lawyers. It turns out that I would be needing a divorce lawyer and a good, strong one, as I was in a contentious, non-collaborating divorce that got uglier every step of the way. When counseling didn’t work (everyone has to show up cooperative) and collaborative divorce and mediation were not an option (everyone has to be honest), I interviewed the lawyer who would turn out to be one of my greatest allies, teacher and supporter.
I was wide-eyed, scared stupid and had been kept in the dark about quite a few things. When you are married/have a partner, you expect just that. Everywhere you look, you understand that TRUSTING your partner is PART of the relationship. What happens when you find out that all the years you’ve been trusting you were simply being fooled? What happens when you understand deep in your core that you’ve been lied to continuously? What happens when you are the only one playing by the rules? What happens when you know deep in your heart something is wrong and not fixable?
My idea was to make sure the kids were okay, divide everything, go our own ways and re-create a unit (I refuse to ever use the word family again after what I’ve learned, unless I’m describing what my kids and I are) where everyone lived with grace and dignity.
It’s not that hard.
Ah, but it is when you are dealing with an untruthful liar who is out to make sure to lie, cheat and steal as well as decimate everything in sight. When you are dealing with someone who has total disregard for everyone except themselves, grace and dignity, truth and honesty fly right out the window.
And so I interviewed. I asked questions, I cried, I tried to make sense out of a senseless ridiculous situation that became more obnoxious as the years wore on. Not to mention the funds spent on waging a battle that I had no choice but to suit up for.
Capes on. Boots on the ground. Shield ready. Bracelets for bullshit always on.
Choosing a legal team is not to be taken lightly. An assembled team of strong, smart, brave women proved to be more worthy than I could have dreamed or hoped for.
Our first meetings and interactions with the other side left me drained; and though my mantra sometime in these years became: courage, power, grace, wisdom, wonder…I watched as my lawyers embodied these traits time and time again. They got to know me very well, (“Are we getting the sad/mad Pam or the happy Pam we all like?”); they listened to stories about my kids, my work, and my dreams. They listened to me cry; they read e-mails, texts, blogs, and previous magazine articles. They answered their phone late at night when a crisis would occur (and there were a few of them). They asked a million questions. They hung tough when I couldn’t. And when I was furious, they were calm.
They looked at thousands of page of documents. Time and time again. They never tired of going over the unbelievable creative finances and helping me figure out what had happened, what was happening and what my options were.
They believed me.
And they taught me that to be strong, to stand up for myself and to ask for what I wanted could be done quietly, with grace…and a cape. We became Warriors together.
After almost two long years of battle, and believe me I am battle-weary, they were able to bring us to a settlement. My lawyers worked VERY HARD every minute and every step of the way. It was because of MY lawyers that this was proceeded as it did.
They had their shields ready, their bracelets on, their capes at the ready and their boots ON THE GROUND….one step at a time.
I wouldn’t be where I am today without A., H., P., and their entire team who worked tirelessly. For that, I will be forever grateful and will continue to wear my cape proudly, with MY boots on the ground (while I continue to reach for the stars).
Lulu, from To Sir With Love, says everything I want to say to my legal team of Warriors:
The time has come for closing books and long last looks must end
And as I leave I know that I am leaving my best friend
A friend who taught me right from wrong and weak from strong
That’s a lot to learn, but what can I give you in return?
If you wanted the moon I would try to make a start
‘To Sir, With Love’
Those schoolgirl days of telling tales and biting nails are gone
But in my mind I know they will still live on and on
But how do you thank someone who has taken you from crayons to perfume?
It isn’t easy, but I’ll try
If you wanted the sky I would write across the sky in letters
That would soar a thousand feet high ‘To Sir, With Love’

BOOTS ON THE GROUND. CAPES ON. A LIFE FULL OF HAPPINESS, PEACE, JOY, FREEDOM, ADVENTURE, LOVE, LAUGHTER, FUN AND PURPOSE. Thank you.