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How Great Thou Part

How Great Thou Part

Some Surprise You Others Disappoint

posted by corme

My son is getting ready to go somewhere. I can see the visible heartache. I know what is bothering him.

“Why do you care?” I say in exasperation. “If you peel back the layers. It’s one person. Only one person that is weighing you down. Every single other person believed in you. Why are you giving that one person so much power?”

Not long after I am walking with “Cookie” and “Candy.” We chat as we always do about all things life.

At one point, I am thinking about all of the people in my life who have gotten me through this and all of their overt and subtle kindnesses. Only I keep dwelling on a couple who have voiced their opinions quite strongly about still wanting the ‘old’ Colleen back and how uncomfortable they are with the ‘new’ Colleen.

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The truth is that tally would come to numbers that could be counted on just one hand.

So why am I giving those few people the power?

I think for two reasons. Like my son. I never just cared. I cared deeply. Secondly, they were at one time, people of great influence in my life.

Here’s the problem. That one person in my son’s life that temporarily disoriented him from knowing who he was – He was wrong. His actions were based on his own insecurities.

We give so much credit to people’s opinions. I used to weigh heavily in on my husband’s opinions. The truth is…it is actually quite shocking how little my husband actually knew me. He saw me through his own ego’s lens.

So it stands to reason, that there were also a few others in my life that were viewing me through their own lens. A few that had a little too much to say. If they only knew I had a little too much to say about them at times only I never did. I wouldn’t have been so bold, yet they didn’t see their apparent lack of boundaries as such.

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I remember one of my best friends from high school reminded me that after she lost her father, I said, “Some will surprise you and others will disappoint you.” Now certainly grief is not a time for judgements. It just sort of happens. You walk into the church and you see someone sitting there that surprises you. Then months later you suddenly realize there is someone close to you that you never heard from. You don’t mean for this to be a defining time. It just is.

I still have so many in my life that love me despite my poor choices and length of misguided devotion to my marriage. Actually, when I write it that way it becomes even more clear that those handful of people should have no credence in my life. I didn’t lose anyone because I mistreated them. I lost them because I stayed with someone who mistreated me and then wouldn’t work on our marriage and then wouldn’t leave me either.

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I shouldn’t say lose because they are still in my life only I hear their subtle disapproval. In reality, I have so many friends that never lost sight of me nor walked away from me. So why do I care about less than a handful?

Why do I give them so much power?

For the same reason I couldn’t leave my husband even though he wasn’t a good friend to me. I care too much.

People who walk away from you at your worst, never had the ability to love you at your best.
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It’s Just Lunch

posted by corme

I am out with four of my girlfriends last night. Everyone is taking turns catching each other up in our lives.

I joke about “going on my second husband field trip.” It is simply divorce humor since I am still not, yet divorced. Even more humorous because the truth is I can’t imagine dating again. It doesn’t sound remotely exciting. In fact, it sounds horrific.

We laugh a bit about the hunting grounds of divorcees. I mean, I guess it makes sense. There has to be a strategy since the pool isn’t stocked with as many fish as it used to be.

A bar – yuck sounds swarmy! Don’t want to meet someone in one of them. I’ve already witnessed that “Lucky Lounge” choreography from afar. No thanks.

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Joining clubs – I don’t have the energy for myself and my children. I can’t see joining an organization at this point in the hopes of hooking up. Too much work.

Dating sites – now we have some significant laughter as we throw out the options, a little match.com, a little Christian Mingle, a little Our Time? Am I the only person who doesn’t remotely find those options appealing? I’m not being snobby. They work for a lot of people. I just am either not remotely ready or they all seem like too much work too.

Our friend who is in visiting us from Florida, I will call her “Philomena,” always jokes that she has enough friends. We joke that we got in under the radar (before the cap – Lucky us).

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I think I am on page with “Philomena” at this point in my life. Maybe I already know enough people. Maybe I’m not really interested in meeting anymore. Maybe, I’ve had enough with one husband. Maybe I don’t need anymore.

This morning I log onto my e-mail. I open one of my job alert’s. It seems there’s a position (I know really not the best word to use) for a sales director for “It’s Just Lunch.”

Hhmmm, a new job with a matchmaking company?

I read the description. Seems I’m not the best fit.

I wasn’t ready to make new friends anyway.

After all, I have my girlfriends and like “Philomela” says, “They are enough.”
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What The Pope and My Uncle The Priest Have in Common

posted by corme

I am watching America’s Got Talent. I have my laptop on my lap sifting through e-mails. It’s been a long day. No, today has been a very, very long day.

A choir sings. They sound magnificent. The audience and judges love them. They interview the head of the choir and he says, “To God be the glory.”

I know I shouldn’t. It’s been a hard day only I can’t help myself once I hear those words. It is a song that reminds me of my Uncle, a priest and pastor in Northwest, Washington, D.C..

I find a youtube version of “To God Be The Glory.” If you haven’t heard this song then you need to google it with youtube following the title and you will find it is one of the most beautiful songs you will hear.

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I cry. I think of my uncle. I think of standing in St. Gabriel’s his beloved church and how the music there is as much of a religious experience as listening to my uncle’s sermon. This was his feeling not mine. I just agreed with him. The music lifted us up.

Then I think I miss him. I want him back. I felt such love and peace when I was with him, mostly I just felt love. This was his greatest gift.

When people speak of my uncle, be it his parishioners or people who wrote about him, they will always say the same thing. Father Pat was a priest for all people.

I often watch the Pope and smile. He has the same warmth and love, the same I am every man, the same I have great faith, the same I hesitate to judge, the same my convictions are present, but my judgements are absent, the same comfort around people, the same ease and joy in walking among the crowds.

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So I will say what I think every time I watch the Pope.

He is a Pope for all people. A gentle, loving soul who wishes to not judge the world, but love it one person at a time.

Each time I see the Pope I see my uncle.

Each time I think I know that type of love and Catholicism. It is encompassing. It is not specific nor is it limited. It is not for a certain kind of person or dare I say only Catholics. It is just pure and simple love.

A love meant for all people.

This is what I miss about my uncle.

He was a Catholic priest. He was love. He was no judgements. He was no pretense. He was no formality. He was family to us and to his parishioners. He was humble. He guided and aided he did not mandate. He was peace. He was love.

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A kind of peace that gave me peace.

I watch the Pope. He is love. He is peace. He is a Pope for all people.

I think this Pope is special. A man who walks among men. A man who spreads love.

I think about my uncle, Father Patrick McCaffrey. A Catholic priest from Brooklyn, New York. I think He was special. A man who walked among men. A man who spread love.

A man who walked so tirelessly among men, that he left much love behind him.

I wish more people knew him.

I watch our Pope and I know that people know him. A man who walks tirelessly among men, who leaves much love behind him, wherever he walks.

I think some Pope’s might not love a comparison. I think this Pope will because he is a Pope for all people. No pretense. Just an ordinary man with an extraordinary purpose. To leave love behind no matter where he goes.

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I miss my uncle. I miss his extraordinary example though just an ordinary man. I miss how every time he walked out the door, he showed me how to live.

How lucky was I?

He taught me to love and more importantly, he taught me that ordinary people can live extraordinary lives.

I hope I leave love behind me.
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The Smell of Burnt Toast

posted by corme

I am in the local coffee shop with my friend “Cookie.”

Now to say the stress of this divorce has taken a toll on me would be an understatement. Every divorce has their own unique properties and some are more brutal than others. The financial games alone have elevated my stress to a point I have never before experienced.

I actually have a hereditary blood clot issue that has sent me to the emergency room three times since I retained an attorney.

While “Cookie” and I sip our coffee I smell something.

“Do you smell something?” I ask “Cookie.”

“Yes,” she responds. “It smells like they burnt some toast.”

“Oh thank goodness,” I respond, only I can’t stop the hysterical laughter.

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“Last night I was watching “Last Comic Standing,” I say. “And one comic joked about how you smell the smell of burnt toast just before you have a stroke. My guess is that if you smell it too then I am not actually having one.”

I still can’t stop laughing and now neither can she.

“Is that really true?” she asks.

“I’m not sure,” I respond. “I really don’t want to find out. Only today of all days, I smell burnt toast.”

I’m pretty sure by the time we said goodbye, “Cookie” was on her way home to google it. Me, I don’t need any additional knowledge until I get through this mess. Ignorance is bliss. After all, had I not seen that comic last night it just would have been plain burnt toast with no meaning. I’m good with that – for now.
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A Letter to Those Who Judge Us in Divorce

posted by corme

A friend e-mailed me last week. Her angst springing forth from my computer. She feels judged by her family and friends. I often talk about judging from my perspective, only this time I speak to those who judge us.

Many year’s ago, I was about to get upset with one of my children only I had the grace to listen.

As I sat with him and heard his words, I realized he was incredibly hard on himself. I never parented him the same afterwards.

Once I realized that his personality was such that no one was going to be harder on him than himself, I knew that I had to be easier on him. If not it would have been a double whammy. He was self-responsible enough to be accountable for his own actions.

So here is my open letter to the friends and family of those divorcing:

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We know we compromised our dignity and our self-respect.
We know we stayed too long, put up with too much.
We are worried about ourselves too.
We are worried about our children.
We are frustrated that we can’t seem to move on faster.
We don’t recognize ourselves either.
We struggle with letting go of love, of what we knew as our family.

Believe us when we say that even we didn’t know the lengths of self-destruction we would go to for one we loved. And even we are sad that somewhere along the line, we lost so much of ourselves that we are strangers not just to you, but to us.

We stay up at night. We toss and turn. We can’t sleep. We ask ourselves – no we beat ourselves with questions.

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Why did my marriage fail?
Why do my kids have to experience this?
Why did I make these bad choices?

Then we whisper horrible secrets to ourselves.

I feel so alone.
I am so scared.
I never knew my heart could ache like this.
It feels like the world walked out on me.
Can I really do this?
Can I make enough money to support us?

Then we wake up and we try to have a plan.

Only we are so stressed we don’t feel well.
So distracted that we can’t think straight.
So hungry for someone to listen to our pain that we over talk.
Or so quiet that we hold it in.
So embarrassed that we are no longer comfortable in our own skin.
So sleep deprived that we can’t seem to accomplish much.
So emotionally weak that we aren’t strong enough to start over.

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Then we leave the house.

We see those who love us and empathize and are kind.
We also see those who look at us differently.
We see those who don’t want a changed version of us.
We see those who don’t recognize us now that we are not a couple.
We see those who judge us.

So we go home.

We add in all those opinions because we are not strong.
We are vulnerable.
We are alone.
We are scared.
We are weak.

So we try to talk to a few who are making us feel judged.

Only they tell us how to feel.
They tell us we are wrong.
They tell us their expectations of us.
They tell us how other people have done divorce better.

Then when we are done begging to be heard.

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We feel even more vulnerable.
Even more alone.
Even more scared.
Even more weak.

They say that divorce is like grief for a reason.

Only in divorce these people that left us are still here – some of them walking around with new parters they’ve replaced us with, some of them punishing us financially or emotionally for leaving them, some of them still controlling us while we try and free ourselves, some of them mistreating our children, some of them walking out into the world with people we know believing the mask that they are wearing and worse still hanging out with them.

We have to painfully watch this. We keep trying to move forward and heal only the grief is interrupted by them walking around us.

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This is our world.

We know you love us. Only it doesn’t feel like love. Judging feels like abandonment. Like one more person is leaving us when we already aren’t strong enough to lose the one that started this chain of events.

We know you are worried for us. Only tell us how worried you are rather than telling us how you think we should behave. Ask us how you are making us feel. Are you one of the ones that make us feel loved and supported or dare you fall into the group of strong opinions and make us feel alone?

Be brave enough to ask us that. Care enough to hear the answer.

We know that it’s painful to watch us in pain. Only come and sit with us, spend time with us and our children. They feel lonely too. Time spent is worth so much more than words because we are lonely and over talking way too much as we beat up ourselves.

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Ask us what we need from you. Don’t tell us what we need.

Ask yourself if you say things that we want to hear:

No one should have to experience this.
You must feel so alone.
You are gutsy and strong.
This must be so hard.
I am so loyal to you.
I will always be here for you.
I still recognize you – the pain someone caused you doesn’t cover that.

Ask yourself if you say things that we don’t want to hear:

You should be doing this or that.
Why are you doing this or that?
People think you should act differently or be happier.
People think you have changed – they want the old you.
You should be okay with us inviting your ex or hanging with them.
Other people divorce and handle things better.
How are you going to do this?

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Just like in grief it is difficult to compare pain and situations and it should be done to provide empathy not judgement.

Comparing divorces and friendships to prove to someone how they should act in their divorce doesn’t help. It only helps when the comparison provides empathy or support.

We crave those who will walk closer to us, not farther away. Those who miraculously love us despite our temporary ugliness. Those who keep lovingly polishing away at our pain because they never lost sight of the light within us – even when it dimmed.
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Divorce: When Smiles Peek Through The Tears

posted by corme

I jump out of the car. I fill my tank up with gas and make my way over to the nearby Starbucks. I’m in and out in a hurry. My Trenta green iced tea in hand.

As I start to pull away, I spot my friend who I will call “LuLu.”

“Lulu” is chatting away on her phone. I start to wave my hand, a big smile comes across my face. The kind of smile I always felt when I would spy a friend – like you spot your best present on Christmas morning.

I don’t want to duck and hide anymore.

I talk a lot about the tears of divorce.

Lately, there are smiles sprouting up and poking between them. Little parts of me finding their way back to the surface…mostly because I am no longer apart of a ‘two’ that doesn’t work, but instead ‘one’ that can work on myself.

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It’s happening more and more, ‘that Christmas morning smile.’ Only today it hit me because “Lulu” was distracted so instead of greeting her I noticed my old familiar body language of flailing to get a friends attention rather than pass them by.

Divorce temporarily made me a passerby. A chin up buttercup kinda girl or it made me so desperate to be heard that instead of being ‘chatty funny’ I was ‘long run on sentence chatty.’ In my defense, I had overstayed my welcome with someone at home who wasn’t listening to me at all.

No matter now because ‘that Christmas morning smile.’ My ‘joie de vivre.’ My usual delight in the every day moments is returning even if they are just sprouting buds rather than full blooms. I will take them. No, I will happily reclaim them.

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My heart is losing weight and I can carry it with me again. Thankfully, pain evaporates if you exercise it enough.

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Why Being Newly Single Can Leave You Uncomfortable

posted by corme

I am on the phone chatting with my friend “Nellie.” We share two different realities with one common denominator. We are both husbandless.

“Nellie” lost her husband too early in life.

Me, I am losing mine because of divorce.

Despite the fact that “Nellie” and I have arrived at the same crossroads for different reasons, we talk about the suburban isolation we now feel.

In the beginning of my divorce process, I felt awkward when I would enter a party, go to a game or walk into a school function. It felt as though I was wearing a dress that was two sizes too small. The dress just no longer fit. In fact, it was so uncomfortable that it felt like my underwear was riding up, my bra strap was showing or my outfit was see through.

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Nothing fit properly. Nothing felt right.

I was no longer a two, a pair, a double, a duce, a twin.

I was solo, singular, uno, an only child.

Only I still wore the same clothing I had always worn. I was still me.

It reminded me of high school. Suburbia had an expectation of me to fit in and be popular. I needed to be like everyone else and if I wasn’t then I would no longer be popular. I couldn’t be different because just like high school different was not appealing.

It has taken me some time to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

In high school I never felt the need to fit in. I was the last girl to do everything. I was a leader not a follower. I was the girl drinking diet coke next to the keg (I will admit I made up for this in college).

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I didn’t have a goal of being in a certain clique. I had only one objective. To treat everyone the same.

So that’s where I find myself again.

I do not need to fit in. Though I won’t lie. It was difficult to leave the group. No, it was painful.

I loved suburbia in the way I had come to live it.

However, now that I recognize the high school resemblance. That there are the same insecurities and intolerance for difference. The same fear of not wanting to stand next to someone who might stand out – I am more comfortable being uncomfortable.

I was never a fan of being popular. I enjoy being liked, I do not need to be liked. I enjoy being respected.

I felt most uncomfortable in my skin when for the first time in my life I actually tried to and needed to fit in – when I wasn’t ready to leave this clique called suburbia.

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Tears are unexpectedly making their way down my cheeks as I write this. The funny thing is…those tears were once for my tight fitting uncomfortable dress. They were for exiting suburbia.

Only today, these tears are for me. They are for the realization that I hadn’t lost suburbia. I had lost myself. I had lost sight of the fact that I never cared what people thought of me if it compromised what I thought of myself.

How foolish of me.

I had never been popular for being a part of a crowd. I had been popular for walking away from the crowd.
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2 Things Deepak Chopra Teaches About Enlightenment

posted by corme

A friend of mine sent me this Deepak Chopra quote. She actually sent it to me in an e-mail about some personal things going on in her life only I relate to it so much.

“According to Vedanta, there are only two symptoms of enlightenment, just two indications that a transformation is taking place within you toward a higher consciousness. The first symptom is that you stop worrying. Things don’t bother you anymore. You become light-hearted and full of joy. The second symptom is that you encounter more and more meaningful coincidences in your life, more and more synchronicities. And this accelerates to the point where you actually experience the miraculous” – Deepak Chopra

I relate to the worrying, the search for enlightenment and a higher consciousness.

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I also know that I have not stopped fighting my journey enough yet, nor have I traveled through it far enough to know this type of enlightenment.

However, I do now have more days where I worry less, joy more, experience those purposeful coincidences and hope for the miraculous again.
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8 Biggest Relationship Mistakes

posted by corme

There are so many things that I wish I had known long before my marriage began to fracture.

I wish I had realized how critical it was to demand certain things. More importantly, I wish I had known that it was anything, but selfish to do so. Why? It was critical for the relationship to survive and thrive.

I think what I find equally as scary as not understanding this – I believed I did marry my equal.

8 Biggest relationship mistakes

1. Making excuses for another person’s bad behavior. There is no such thing as a good person in a bad place for an extended length of time. There is no excuse for repeated bad behavior.

2. Giving a person more than two chances to make you a priority. This is certainly something I demanded when I was young only you morph into a family and you tolerate things you may not have originally put up with. It’s quite simple. If you are not a priority to your spouse then you shouldn’t be with them.

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3. Using too many words to demand respect. If someone doesn’t hear you the first time then shut up. It’s about them not you. Respectful people care enough to listen and to care. If you are repeating the same tired worries, grievances, stresses, over and over again then the person your with doesn’t care enough about you for it to matter to them.

4. Not realizing it’s impossible to have a healthy relationship with a selfish person. Selfish doesn’t go two ways and relationships are two way. Marriage is not a selfish sport – it won’t work.

5. Not realizing it is not your job to continually rescue another person. A grown adult that lacks self-responsibility will never be an equal parter and instead is in need of a parent rather than a partner.

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6. Not realizing the first time someone makes you cry should be the last time you give them the opportunity. It should be counterintuitive to watch someone you love cry. Crying is a submissive emotion. A spouse that induces crying is a bully.

7. Not realizing that you will have an out of control relationship with an overly controlling personality. Control is like selfish – if it’s extreme then these are just not team qualities.

8. If someone leaves you once, then give them your blessing so they don’t leave you twice. I know this becomes tough once a family is involved it pushes our limits; however, it’s a self-respect issue. Why would you ever want someone back who once turned their back on you?
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Do People Feel Sorry for You Because of Divorce?

posted by corme

A little while back my friend “Maya” Facebooks me.

Maya writes (and I paraphrase):
“I hate when people find out that I am getting divorced and say, ‘I am so sorry.'” I am not sorry. I don’t want people feeling sorry for me. I see this as a good thing. A new beginning.”

I agree with Maya. There is an implied sympathy that at times is less about the pain of divorce and more about – I’m so sorry you are not one of us anymore.

Then the other day I am in the grocery store parking lot and I run into my friend “Della.” We chat for a few moments and as we turn to walk away from one another she says, “It takes a lot of guts to do what you are doing.”

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I twist. Walk forward and stand a little taller.

“It does take guts!” I think to myself.

Actually, I think back to the day that my sister said to me, “Colleen, a lot of women would have stayed in your situation. They would have just stayed because of other obvious benefits to doing so.”

My friend “Della” is actually very happily married. However, she still didn’t offer an “I’m so sorry” instead she gave me kudos, moxie, bravado. “Della” is confident enough to not need me to be exactly like her. It’s okay that we are friends and different. Our worlds no longer the same nor intertwined as couples.

That confidence allows “Della” to speak from a place of authenticity rather than fear.

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The fact is that many are afraid of divorce. Afraid of ending up like “Maya” and me. I actually get that because I at one time feared it.

I felt sorry for me once too! Only that ended a long time ago and instead gradually morphed into “Della’s” reaction.

I have guts. I have moxie. I have bravado. I have far more than I thought I had. And I don’t know my outcome yet and yes, that is still incredibly scary.

Only, the truth is, had I stayed I would have continued to feel sorry for myself instead of others doing it for me.
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Previous Posts

Some Surprise You Others Disappoint
My son is getting ready to go somewhere. I can see the visible heartache. I know what is bothering him. "Why do you care?" I say in exasperation. "If you peel back the layers. It's one person. Only one person that is weighing you down. Every ...

posted 12:16:42pm Jul. 29, 2015 | read full post »

It's Just Lunch
I am out with four of my girlfriends last night. Everyone is taking turns catching each other up in our lives. I joke about "going on my second husband field trip." It is simply divorce humor since I am still not, yet divorced. Even more ...

posted 4:28:47pm Jul. 28, 2015 | read full post »

What The Pope and My Uncle The Priest Have in Common
I am watching America's Got Talent. I have my laptop on my lap sifting through e-mails. It's been a long day. No, today has been a very, very long day. A choir sings. They sound magnificent. The audience and judges love them. They interview ...

posted 3:37:43am Jul. 27, 2015 | read full post »

The Smell of Burnt Toast
I am in the local coffee shop with my friend "Cookie." Now to say the stress of this divorce has taken a toll on me would be an understatement. Every divorce has their own unique properties and some are more brutal than others. The financial ...

posted 4:14:08pm Jul. 23, 2015 | read full post »

A Letter to Those Who Judge Us in Divorce
A friend e-mailed me last week. Her angst springing forth from my computer. She feels judged by her family and friends. I often talk about judging from my perspective, only this time I speak to those who judge us. Many year's ago, I was about ...

posted 3:14:09pm Jul. 20, 2015 | read full post »

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