What The FEX?

Let’s just get it out in the open. Maya Angelou was right all along. (Yes Jill, my most vocal friend, you were right too!) And I was terribly, dreadfully wrong. That’s the bad news. The good news is…I have evicted FEX from my basement! (Wild applause, cheers and a cartwheel-finish into a split!) Yep! I made a huge mistake, and then I rectified it! (More wild applause)

A lot has transpired in the last few months. Without exposing the disparaging details, I will say that FEX had managed to successfully break every verbal agreement we had made regarding our co-parenting (only) living arrangement. As FEX is fond of saying, “Things change man,” in his careless, dude-like manner. And change they did.

Drumroll please! And the great epiphone! I woke up and realized that being a good Mom does NOT mean I have to sacrifice my personal space nor my peace-of-mind. Having their Dad in my house was draining my happiness. It was like a black hole with a thousand Dyson vacuums inside of it, easily sucking up my joy, like dog hair on a hardwood floor. And that my friends is never the best way to be a good Mom.

I fell into the trap of believing that I should keep their father around at all costs. Mainly and specifically, the cost of my sanity. My children will still see thier father. If I have my wish, he will always remain in their lives. However, I will no longer be dragged around by his agenda. This realization and emacipation feels amazing. I could scream from the rooftops, “I deserve to be happy too!” And I am just that. Happy.

I will promptly resume all joyful activities, including but certainly not limited to getting back to you all, my wordpress family. Thanks for the support. I have missed this place. The possibilities are winking at me. Things are looking up. I think Maya would be proud.

Photo credit: http://imunsinkable.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Scream50sWoman2.jpg

On FEX Living In The Basement – A Note To Maya Angelou’s Voice In-My-Head

People are asking. They are scratching their heads and wondering. There are those who come right out and ask me; others who remain perplexed, or make various assumptions. My personal favorites are the ones who have a firm opinion on the matter, one way or the other, of which they adamantly try to convince me. Most just want to know WHY on earth I have allowed FEX (future ex-husband) to move back into the house and take up residence in the basement?

As they say, “It’s complicated.” FEX moved out 3 years ago. Since then, we have put forth our best efforts towards effectively and cooperatively (mostly) co-parenting our son, 8 (the lawyer) and our daughter, 6 (the performer). After more than a year of discussing the possibility of trying to live in the same house again, as friends and mutual adorers of our wee-ones, we decided to make a go of this unconventional arrangement. This past September, to the elation of my children, FEX moved back in. My expectations of him are as follows.

#1. Put the children first.

#2. I need to be able to rely upon your word.

Easy. Right? Well, one out of two isn’t that bad. Is it? The whole keep your word thing has evaded FEX for many years now. I should have known that this would be the case, because Maya Angelou has said so, and she is usually right about these things.

To my defense – FEX and I are able to provide more for our children, when supporting one household, instead of two. Now we work together on the daily challenges, responsibilities and chaos that is attached to raising young children. In my mind, I was thinking, “I didn’t have them alone, so why should I raise them alone?” Most importantly, and the clincher for me was that my children desperately wanted to see both of their parents, each and every day.

Although, in the opposing voice in-my-head, I hear the words of Maya Angelou. I can hear her gently reminding me of one of my favorite quotes.

Get out of my head Maya. I have to try this out. 

Dear Miss Angelou’s voice in-my-head,

I know that you said, “When somebody shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” The Universe has enthusiastically chimed in on this point, on several occasions throughout my life. I surrender. I get it. Believe them the first time.

I am aware that in heeding the wisdom of your advise, allowing FEX back in, was not the best idea. But, I ask you, who else in the world is going to love my children as much as I do, and help me raise them on a daily basis, as well as maintaining a house and yard, etc…? Who, Maya? Who?

I mean no disrespect, as you are a most-admired role model to me. But Maya, I wanted to teach my children that we love them so much that we willingly put our differences aside to do our best in raising them together, even though our marriage was over. Is this wrong? I suppose only time will tell.

Families look all different ways these days, as I am sure you are aware. I know that our living arrangement is unusual, and though it has not been the ideal situation for me personally, having another parent in the house, and seeing the way my children light up when their father comes home, is reason enough for me to be proud of myself for trying. Wish me luck. xo

Also Maya, any dating advice would be most welcomed. 😉

With Fondest Admiration,

Victoria

photo credit: aware.org.sg

Sleds and Dogs, But Not Sled Dogs

So, what does one do when they are snowed in, for 3 days, with 2 kids and 3 dogs? I am kidding, I mean 2 dogs and Fex (future ex husband) who has been likened to a dog, by some mutual friends, on several occasions. Truthfully speaking, FEX could never be as loyal and reliable as a dog anyway. OMgoodness, I just did it again. Perhaps it’s is the freezing cold that I was exposed to while sledding today. Or, rather, I am just in the mood to be cheeky (and honest).

The answer is – go sledding with a bunch of friends, and a gaggle of kids, of course! It’s that, or I could always sit home, drink wine, and let my children eat me out of house and home, in an attempt to pacify our cabin-fever, and the boredom which has begun to set in – the result of sitting in the house for 3 days, while Mother Nature has her way with us.

As a devout lover of summer, and all activities water-related, I have often wondered how it is that I have lived in New York for my entire life. While we do have the most beautiful weather in Spring and Fall, which are both moderate in temperature, and a delight to behold, for the senses, with them comes the complete extremes of the spectrum – brutally hot summers and bone-chilling winters.

The fact is, that I love New York! Just like the tourism commercials, theme song and slogan says. I really do love it, wholeheartedly. Many who have never visited this beautiful state do not realize that New York City is only a small portion of the offerings here. I actually live on Long Island, just east of the city, which is just that, a very long island of suburbs, boasting countless, stunning beaches spanning its length, and no more than a half an hour drive, north or south, from almost any given point. As if this isn’t enough, there is the mainland of NY, which stretches up to Canada, and is comprised of spectacualr mountains, with farmland and forest, mostly unsullied by man.

While I do love it here, I must say that the cold winters are really knawing at me, whispering in my ear, louder and louder, as each year passes, and another bout of cold passes through my beloved state. Today, standing on top of that snowy hill, with frozen nose and toes, delighting in the fun of the children sledding, I leaned in closely to decipher the whisper, and I distinctly heard it say, “Go back to the Caribbean Victoria. That is where you belong!” Who am I to argue with the wisdom of the winter winds?

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Enjoying some balcony time in sunny Jamaica, January 2015

For the Doubters, Haters and Naysayers

My life hasn’t been picture perfect. Yet, my blessings have been, and continue to be innumerable.

I’m what one might call a “late bloomer.” I dropped out of college right after High School and pursued acting, performing in local productions, and working with an improv troupe for several years. All the while, I was building my talents as a hairdressing waitress, with a penchant for mixing up delightful cocktails, and provoking endless amounts of fun. I parlayed that into a nice management position at a high-end steakhouse, with a regular clientele, and a close-knit staff. Very good times…

I began seriously dating my future ex-husband in 2000, (who I shall affectionately refer to as FEX from here on) and we eventually ventured off into our own business, in the home improvement field. The housing market was soaring in NY, (mind you this was around 2002) and FEX and I were living it up…vacations, parties, weekend getaways and the like. More good times…

We got the house in the middle-class neighborhood, got married, and had 2 healthy, beautiful babies. A boy then a girl. Picture perfect. Um. No.

Fast forward to 2008ish. The housing market was in a drastic, downward spiral and seemingly took our business and financial security with it, in what seemed like a blink. Eventually, our marriage was to follow suit.

Still trying to hold it all together, I returned to school, in 2010. Having already attained my Associates Degree while working at that fine Steakhouse, I began to chip away at my Bachelors in English (of course) in hopes of becoming a teacher. I was an excellent student, and the go-to editor, for my friends and family, whether they needed a letter, or a college paper written. I thought becoming a teacher would be the answer to our financial woes.

That is when FEX declared that he was unhappy and wanted out. Our children were 2 and 4, at the time. It unraveled quickly after that. 6 months later, FEX moved out and I really wasn’t sure if I could manage life, house, children and dogs, without him.

I made a decision, that no matter what challenges were to come, I was going to make my job as a parent paramount over everything else. FEX proved a disloyal husband, but certainly does still love and provide for our children. We do get along (mostly) and work together at parenting our offspring. I still do cut hair, and waitress and bartend, and I also continue to put parenting my little ones before all else. But now, I can see clearly that I have the need to fulfill my own passions, and purpose. Yes, it is an actual NEED, and I shall honor it.

Which brings me here. I realize that it was necessary for me to be brought to and through these challenges and struggles, so that I could learn of my own strength, and astounding ability to improve myself. Because when the material things, and the plans I had made for the future were abruptly stripped from me, I was left with myself.

I get by, with a little help from my friends, and a lot of help from my family. I am quite Blessed, in both departments. But the point is, that I choose to be happy. I choose to chase my dreams. I am writing, which centers me, and makes me feel that all is right with the Universe. I am editing a wonderful book for my fabulous friend, mamalisa4, which excites me immeasurably. I am on the right path. I can feel it in my bones.

For those who have doubted or judged my decisions, I say, “Mind your own matters.” To my supporters, who have been there with an open heart, through it all, cheering me on, I say, “Thank you. You’ve made all the difference in the world to me.”

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Time Ceases When You’re Rocking Out in Paradise

Or does it? Maybe it’s the rum? Or the golden sun relentlessly pouring itself out over my pale skin. Perhaps nobody cares to be bound by the intrusive restraints of a schedule when in paradise. In any case, it’s wonderful to be without a watch imprisoning my wrist, nor a care in the world, for a brief span anyway.

The salted blue-green warmth lapping at my tired figure seems to wash it all away. The stress of the daily grind fades, time slows for a space, and I sit gracefully, um, ok, maybe not gracefully, but certainly gratefully, soaking in this Caribbean gift.

My fairy Godmother, aka, my Dad, took me to sunny Jamaica for the week, to bask by the sea and listen to one of our favorite bands, live, nightly, and on the Caribbean shore, no less…The incredibly talented, soulful, rock n’roll genius that is Gov’t Mule, and amazing friends, led by legendary guitarist and singer/songwriter, Warren Haynes, who some of you may know from the Allman Brothers Band. Mind-blowing! As if this wasn’t enough, Anders Osbourne’s band made appearances throughout, as well as the talented trio, London Souls. I have always bonded with my father over music. My Dad rocks! Literally.

Guilt. I’ve actually left it behind. I was overwhelmed by anxiety about leaving my children, right down to the pit of my stomach, for the entire week prior to leaving. But I magically recuperated from this malady upon stepping onto white sand, while sipping, ok, gulping down, my first frozen delight, aptly named, the “Bob Marley.” A Tri-colored frozen serving of rum-soaked goodness, in a plastic cup. So delightful.

Ya mon, no problems at all, in Jamaica.

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What treasures have you found among someone else’s “trash?”

One mans trash…You know how the old saying goes. What may no longer be useful to one person, may well turn out to be a cherished treasure for another. This rings true in numerous ways.

I was driving back and forth across my suburban town on a typical, putt-around Sunday, and several times passed by a house having a garage sale. The weather was a bit too frosty, in my opinion, to make that endeavor worthwhile. I was thinking this, as I passed the chilled figures working the sale. As a seasoned host of some rather lucrative garage sales, I have learned that you don’t rake in the customers, in temperatures too hot, or too cold. I have a great appreciation for the myriad of benefits that come along, from doing something as laborious and unglamorous as having a garage sale.

I had never shopped garage sales, and had certainly never hosted one, before my second child was born. I snubbed my nose at garage sales for the most part. Who would want to sift through someone else’s discards anyway? Or spend their day selling their own junk in their own driveway? What would the neighbors think?

Fast-forward to a 2-year-old son, and infant daughter later. “Oh no, all these baby clothes, and toys, and hoppy chairs, are designed for boys. What were we thinking? And what will we do with all of this boy stuff? And gee-wiz, replacing it with all girl stuff is costly? And wow, no baby shower for the second-born, to ease the financial bleeding a bit, that comes from baby-having, and subsequent child-rearing, kind of sucks…” And finally, “Heyyy, maybe those garage sale people are onto something…”

Needless to say, I have held my fair share of yard sales in the 6 years to follow that naive time in my life. It was amazing, I was decluttering my house, helping people attain some rather nice items, for which they had need or want, at a fabulous price, and I was making some extra cash to contribute to my family. And by-golly its a green thing to do, and in total compliance with the concept of reuse, repurpose and recycle. Amazing!

Let’s get back to the poor popsicles I saw running their chilly-day sale. On my last pass, at the end of the day, dropping off my daughter’s friend from a play-date, I see that they have shut down shop and carefully moved all that didn’t sell to the curb, for trash pick-up. Alas, the curious picker in my head forces me to stop the car and assess the situation. Well, my goodness, am I glad I did.

I am now the happy owner of a pristine and life-like porcelain doll, which my daughter was thrilled to receive (incidentally I priced it out and found it to be valued at around $85), an extra large, wooden-framed, backyard table-umbrella, in excellent working condition, and a perfect, unused, hardcover, copy of a book that one of my dearest friends, and cheer-leader for my writing, had been urging me for months to read, coincidentally (or not) written by a blogger-turned extremely successful author, writing about some sh*t his Dad says. Amazing!

As I think of all of this, I grow more certain that there are no coincidences. A dear childhood friend, whose first husband had told her on numerous occasions, that she was a piece of garbage, eventually remarried a man who absolutely adored her for the stunningly beautiful, kindhearted and imperfect woman she is. 10 years later, they remain madly in love. Amazing! Sometimes, what might appear to be “trash” in our lives, turns out to be a hidden treasure, waiting to fall into the hands or heart of just the right person.

Thank God I Married the Wrong Man

As a self-proclaimed “scorned” woman, and you will come to see, I definitely fit within the parameters of such a title, I have learned that there is a pitifully negative connotation attached to this status. It’s societal and familial. It is the concept that we are not whole if our partner or spouse does us wrong, or worse yet…leaves all together.

I actually use the term “scorned” in a satirical nod to my ex, who, during those dark times in our relationship, following the initial break-up, used to throw the word around at me as if this was some valid explanation for my “irrational” resentment towards him. In fact, it was true. I was scorned. I was hurt, angry, broken. At times, I was like a crazy-women, pissed-off and reeling, especially during those first treacherous months, whilst trying to regain my balance. I had two little ones, a boy, age 4, and a girl, age 2, at the time. I believed wholeheartedly that someone had pulled the rug from beneath my unsteady feet, and my entire world shifted.

The reality is, it is not possible to force another person to hold true to their commitments, even after you’ve both proclaimed, in front of God, Church and family, “‘Till death do us part.” Though, with my vision becoming increasingly clearer, it is apparent that, even though our marriage didn’t go the distance, my relationship with this man who scorned me is interminable, for the simple fact that we were gifted with two awesome children, who now literally bind us in ways both obvious and imperceptible, till death and beyond.  And I wouldn’t change a thing.

There is a quote by Cynthia Occelli, about a seed, which resonates so deeply with my feelings on the failure of my marriage, and the ensuing chaos and subsequent calm to follow. “For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.”

I am that seed, and my desire and ability for growth astounds me. Each of us is capable of this incredible blossoming, even after we are faced with a seeming destruction. For this, I am thankful. For our beautiful children, I am thankful.  And for marrying the “wrong man,” I am indeed thankful. From that scorn, I was reborn.