Here's to maintaining some self-respect and sanity while tending to the growth and maturation of young minds, including your own young mind. Here's to recognizing that it isn't necessary to know how everything is going to turn out in advance, and that often Life has much better in store than one can imagine. Here's to hope and happiness even when Life gets complicated, especially then... That's when it's needed it most.

...afterall, the car may only seat seven but room for friends is unlimited...

Friday, July 8, 2016

Involuntary Mom-vacation.

The kids are off to Tahoe with their Dads, so I have ten days to myself. The house will stay clean. The dishes in the sink will all be mine. Those are the bright-side thoughts I injected into the sadness I was feeling eariler this afternoon. These days are hard for me, mostly because I love having my children around. I live for time with them. I went to a movie with them after work this week from 11 p.m. untial 1 a.m. because I wanted to make some memories with them before they left for this trip. We had a blast and it was money and time very well spent. I strive, work hard, and stretch because I cherish and adore them and I want our life together to be a beautiful one. That's not based in any 'thing' or 'place'; in my mind that's a feeling. But here, in our home, we are creating that and I'm grateful.

My middle three are teens now, with one on the farside and one on the preside of adolescence. It ain't no picnic and it's not something I'd recommend to anyone who likes peace, ...or quiet. Lots of disagreement between them about which loud music is acceptable. The current rivalry is between child 3 and child 4... they despise each other, which makes the beautiful life scenario harder to achieve sometimes. I spend a substantial amount of time pleading with them to recognize that whether or not they see the innate value in their sibling, I do. I see their immeasurable value and I love them with everything I am... I love each of them with everything I am. It's not a divided love, it's an 'all' for 'each'. It makes for some tense times, their rivalry... but having survived one round of He-is-the-vilest-human-being-in-all-creation, I know that eventually there will be some understanding and most likely, friendship. I know we will survive. It's worth the effort, tears and struggle.

I love being their mother, and I miss them horribly when they are away from home, especially for long periods and to distant places, ...without me. I don't mind their dishes in the sink, or their towels in the bathroom. When my oldest comes home for the night, I'm grateful to make up the bed and make him comfortable. They are amazing people, they help each other and they help me. Before the trip, my oldest checked all the fluid levels in my car and the others did a few chores around the house. Most of the time, they work well together. They prepare meals when I'm at work. They clean bathrooms, take out garbage and mow the lawn. They work hard in school and in life. We have a lot of fun. I'm a lucky mom.

While they are gone though, I'm going to take advantage. I'm going to work the next five days straight. I realize that most people have five day work weeks, but that's at least a 60 hour week for me which feels like a lot because I'm getting old. (Thank heaven I'm paid hourly.) I'm not making plans for much else during that time... except for sleep. And maybe some lawn watering and organizing. I have a few projects on my mind. The house provides a never-ending supply of improvement options. It's very satisfying to me, making our home lovely and functional. Today for example, I slept well after my night shift, cleaned, and read my book; order to chaos. It's not like there was really so much to do, just some obvious areas I could put some effort into. Those are my favorite kinds of jobs; small effort, big pay-off. Like the kids' bathroom downstairs which will stay spotless for ten days, totally worth the effort.

When they get home, I'll have three days with them before they go back to their Dad's for another weekend. I'm planning now to make those days count. I'm sure there are some ways I could really surprise them and make those days very special, beyond just 'being at home.' I'd like that, and I'm sure they would too. I don't want to waste any time on wishing we had 'more' of it to spend together. I mean, I do feel those things, I have just learned to acknowledge them and let them go... and then find something to do....

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Summertime, and the livin' is easy...

It's summer time, and I'm enjoying the extra time with my kids. More accurately, I'm enjoying hearing them around the house while I've been organizing. The basement feels like a home again rather than a haphazard storage unit.
Last week, my uncle gave me a pub table with three chairs, which is actually what started the organization effort in earnest. When the table and chairs came, they went to my living room, which was the only area large enough to accommodate them but also keep them out of the way for a time. Also in the living room were a few boxes which had recently made their way from my parents' home, the last remnants of our time there. Downstairs for this last year I've had a line of shelves against a long wall, filled with bins of linens and toys, and other miscellaneous items. Leaning against the walls I also had two long tables, a desk and baker's rack which needed assembling. I got tired of having the living room filled with 'stuff' and was anxious to get the new table where it belonged. It was an overwhelming, enormous task. It's been a while since I took on something that big... I was exhausted at the end of every single day. I was also amazed at how much there was left to do and the comparatively small chunk I was able to manage each day. That is no exaggeration, I can see the end now but honestly not less than 5 times during the process I was close to tears, and praying. I needed to understand the next big step and there were so many small steps in between. It took a week, fully, and was worth the effort.
The first huge portion was weeding out the bins, taking a hefty portion of it to donate at our local thrift location. Then, cleaning up the construction leftovers. I accidently dumped paint on the floor. (I had expoxy painted the concrete so that wasn't disastrous, just messy.) Second Son helped me get that cleaned up. Once I had the floor cleaned, I painted over the splatter and started moving the reduced mass of bins around, moving shelving, setting up tables and desks. I'm about 90% finished now, I have a nearly functional work-space and it's home again. The remaining work is fine tuning. What's left is random. Things I need to sort. I'll move things from the kitchen table and out of corners in my bedroom, down to a new, permanent easy to access spot.  My creative life has a staging ground again. It feels like a miracle to have it in the shape it's in, it feels like home again.
Recent life events have taught me to appreciate another blessing in all of this. The simple ability to work on my own at something. It's the blessing of a single life. I keep my children fed, happy and engaged; They come to me when they need something or have a question. We've gone out for some fun, and I needed those breaks as much as they did. But for this week, I was focused. No one feels hurt that I am not focused on them completely, no one waiting for my attention to turn to them, no one wanting to start arguments over whether or not I am meeting their needs. I had no idea how precious that was but, now it's something I will never take that for granted.

Friday, May 13, 2016

How I celebrated Friday the 13th

1) Picked up the certified copy of my divorce decree at the court. (The guy was so nice, he gave it to me free. And he said that if I need any more copies just ask for him. That's exceptional!)

2) Headed to DMV.
     a) Went to the tax division and picked up the new plates and tags for Connor's car. (I haven't mentioned how awesome my family has been in helping me to get this done. Turner has come several times to get the car, as has my father, to diagnose and do repairs. Yesterday, Turner came during his lunch hour to pick up the car up and do the inspection and emissions so they'd ready for me to take to the DMV on my day off today. UN-REAL! I love them so much!)
    b) Went next door to the driver's license division and presented my my divorce decree and got a new driver's license.

Total time at the DMV: 20 minutes. No kidding.

3) Stopped in at my bank and changed my name on my account.

4) Went to the Social Security office and ordered a new social security card.

5) Spoke with two mortgage lenders about refinancing my home. (That went well, better than I imagined. I hope to make a decision and get that underway on Monday.)

Now, all that's left is to get my Nursing License updated, and get a Passport.

Oh, yes. And mow the lawn. I'm going to do that right now, and I'm pretty happy about it. I'm pretty happy about life in general. Life is good.  All things considered, I can't imagine I'd rather be anyone else on the planet, and that's the truth.

Abby A. Turner

Saturday, April 30, 2016

When you suffer...

On Monday night, my daughter wasn't feeling well. She said that her stomach hurt and so we monitored the pain for a while. It seemed to be moving, and wasn't unbearable for her. Her dinner didn't stay down much longer, but then she felt a little better. My best guess as a nurse (and mom) was, from the way it came on and her symptoms, it was a virus. She stayed home from school on Tuesday and rested the entire day. She still wasn't feeling great Tuesday night but she thought she was doing a bit better. I prepared for work the next day, and we headed for bed. At four a.m. she was sitting at my bedside. "Mom," she said. "It hurts so much. I can't sleep, I can't lay down, I can't sit up, it hurts to walk." My gut moved much quicker than my brain did at that point. There was only one thing to do and I was sure: "Get your shoes on sweetie. I'm getting dressed and we are going to the Emergency Room." She looked a little dazed. She told me later that she had thought I would give her some ibuprofen for the pain. I'm grateful that didn't cross my mind. I let her dad know we were on our way to the hospital.
It took 6 hours in the ER before we knew what was happening inside my beautiful baby girl. Bloodwork and a urine analysis told us that she had a high white blood cell count and so, infection but not in the bladder. Ultrasound couldn't see the appendix, but did show a pocket of fluid on the lower right side. Nothing abnormal with the Pelvic Ultrasound. The Radiologist mentioned that with someone of her age, CT was the last resort, but might be necessary. Not long afterward, she was drinking the oral contrast and knew that she would have IV contrast as well. The CT was fast and before we were back in our room a surgeon had been contacted. It was her appendix. Within 12 hours from the time she was at my bedside at four a.m., she was in recovery following her emergency appendectomy. The surgeon came out with photos taken during the surgery. It had ruptured, but was contained. He said a few times with pause, "It was a very good catch." The surgeon wanted her to stay overnight in the hospital for one more round of IV antibiotics, and so it was.
There is a first for everything. In twenty years this was the first surgery and overnight hospital stay for any of our five children. My ex-husband and I are friends, and our love for these children binds us to each other though our separate lives are well developed. I was glad to know, when I knew surgery was coming, that he was on his way. He mentioned in the next phone call that his husband was going to come, too. I cringed inside. Something in me knew it would leave me alone, and it did. It was painful to me in such an odd way; I recognized the pain and pushed it away. I stayed in Nurse-Mode. I've been there before. My instincts have made life-saving care available to many. It was a place of emotional safety; I recognized it and stayed there. With no one to hug me and hold my hand through the trauma of what was happening to my child, I couldn't be anything but detached. I stayed detached through the hospital stay, focusing on the hour to hour needs of my daughter and the others at home. After a night at home, my daughter went to her dad's for their regular weekend and I went to work. I recounted the story to as many of my co-workers as were interested. On the way home from work, however, a dam broke in me.
Almost out of nowhere, tears started to flow, forcefully. They've been with me on and off all night and into today. There is catharsis in it, recognizing and feeling the pain, this pain and others I've pushed away necessarily. Acknowledging the fear, the panic, the understanding that my child was in danger. Coping with the knowledge that to heal she needed to be cut further, and the danger I understood in anesthesia. Remembering the anesthesiologist assessing her in the hallway as we spoke, starting her first round of medication right there a few seconds before taking her away with the surgeon. It all brings me to frame shaking tears. I've been in an operating room, I've seen surgeries. It's hard to think of her there. There is a lot of gratitude as well. Gratitude that she came through it without complications and that she won't have more than a few small scars and memories of pain that is gone. I'm grateful that I understood what needed to happen, and what was happening to her. Gratitude for education which makes all of these things possible, and of careful serious professionals who cared for her earnestly. Gratitude eases pain.
She's doing well now, still sore and moving slowly. I'm doing well, too. For me, I'm glad everything bubbled to the surface, that it flowed over and out. I'll need to think a little more about everything. I have seen first hand this week the painful truth, how a mother holds her worry close and is strong for her child. I've seen the struggle of being alone through something like this. We had enormous support from family and community, and yet, at the core, I was still alone. It was more painful than I imagined and that is something I need to learn from, and not forget. It has heightened my compassion for others in similar or far more difficult circumstances. It will allow me to attend to others more effectively in my everyday work, as well as grow in other ways, I believe. There is much worth cultivating and learning from in this experience. It feels like a door, and it will be interesting to see where it leads.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Mountains Moving as I Watch...

Today, at the beginning of today, I felt like I was dragging my feet through mud. I was trying to move a few things off the 'to do' list before I start work again tomorrow and feeling more than a little pressure. The fact about my career is, once I start my work week, I barely have time to breathe, sleep and shower between shifts let alone accomplish anything else. I get a pretty focused on my last day-off. One item on my list was important, time sensitive, and at a complete stand still. Another thing which I've been thinking about quit a bit, was also stalled. Thankfully, I checked an item off the list yesterday so at least I felt like something was getting done, for a minute anyway. My first phone call this morning was from the man who was helping me to get that checked off. I had faxed in a form yesterday and he was calling to let me know that I had neglected to sign it. This was a deferment/cancellation for school loans so it jumped back on my list, right at the top. He said he'd email me a scan of what I faxed yesterday. While I was waiting for the email I made a couple phone calls; one to a flooring store for carpet installation and one to my cousin to see when he might be able to inspect my son's car for registration. Both of these phone calls had the same result, probably not this week, maybe next. The flooring store said they'd give me a call back if they had anything open up for the installers. (Carpet installers are backed up everywhere it seems.) For the car, I'd have to leave it with my cousin for a few days for him to fit it in next week, which wouldn't work out well for us anyway. Striking out everywhere. The carpet has been waiting and could keep waiting, no deadlines to meet. I needed to get the car registered though so I was going to have to do more digging there. I was feeling discouraged, not gonna lie.

The email came so I turned back to my form and got it printed. My son, who works for a car dealership in the area was also working on the registration issue for me, checking to see if they could work it in. Not this week. His friend was going on vacation and wouldn't be back until next Monday. The month ends on Saturday so I'm cussing myself for not starting earlier when I get a phone call. No one sounded more surprised to be calling than the man on the other end; it was the flooring place. He said that —amazingly—the first job his installers had scheduled this morning fell through at the last minute and if I was home and had time, they could come right over. The answer to that was yes, and yes please, and thank you which meant they'd be arriving in about five minutes. Stunned, I ran down and swept the room, finishing just in time to hear a truck pull up. The bid was exactly what I figured it would be so I got them started and headed back upstairs to sign my form and download a camera scanner to my phone so I could get a pdf headed back to the man at the University. Soon, I had another text from my son, to let me know that I could register the car with an extension for the tests. I looked it up, and sure enough, it would give me two more weeks to get things with the inspections resolved; exactly what I needed. I got everything set with the insurance for adding the car (also on the to do list), the carpet installers finished their work, I emailed the form to the man at the school and headed to the DMV. While at the DMV I mentioned that I expected my name to be changing soon and asked if I'd need to bring the divorce decree in to have the title changed. She said to my utter amazement that I could go ahead and put the title in my future legal name right then.

There is still a lot on my list, I'm looking at it a little differently though. Times like this I feel very seen and heard, I feel known and understood. Sometimes, as they say, God moves in mysterious ways, and sometimes as I witnessed today, He just MOVES.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

May you...

May you give God full access to your story. May you allow Him to correct and redirect; heal and deal; refine and define. May you remember that you're part of a plan that's bigger than you are. May you trust the Lord's work in your life so He can use you in ways beyond your wildest dreams. Lean in and trust Him. He's got you. Walk forward with expectant faith and a listening ear today!

—Susie Larson

Friday, April 15, 2016

The way I know...

I'm very content in my current situation, I think I've mentioned that recently. Before, when I've heard people say "I'm in a really good place right now" I haven't truly known what they intended with those words. It was a worn phrase without much meaning. Now, however, I understand. I haven't previously experienced this kind of contentedness in my life. I'm a happy person, and I've always been grateful and felt blessed, but it's different now. It is such a fulfilling feeling, a little bit precarious since feelings like that rarely last. It has been sustainable, however; despite day to day struggles, it transcends. There is brain-strain and heart-strain in life all the time, of course. Work can be hectic and mind-bendingly challenging. The kids fight viciously sometimes. In this moment however I feel an over-arching peace, and that peace remains through all the rest.
I recognize the 'good place' primarily due to one huge hallmark, I don't feel that I'm missing anything or missing out on anything. I'm not anxious for something new to start. I'm not worried that I'll be alone or about being alone at all... I enjoy time by myself. I enjoy time with the kids and my family. I enjoy time at work, even with the mind-bending. I plan and I look forward to my time in all of these places and with all the people that fill my world. At home, I choose my tasks. I lead myself around and work on things. Last week it was the yard and garden. When I finished the tasks I'd chosen, I was thrilled with the progress and what a couple of days in my flower beds and vegetable garden could do. I love having my children work on things with me. The seeds we planted are beginning to sprout and I'm excited for the kids to see the growth. Growth brings me joy. At work, I feel appreciated by my peers. I feel a commeraderie I've missed in my life for quite a while. Another nurse said today, "I hope you never leave. If you leave or if so-and-so leaves, I'm leaving, too." I was flabbergasted because I look up to this particular nurse quite a lot. I told her how surprised I was to hear it and asked her why she felt that way. She said she knows I'll get things done, I'll take care of things and she can count on me: I'm so happy to have become 'that nurse'. Seeing the growth in myself is thrilling. And then there is 'my personal life'. Like I said before, I don't feel like I'm missing out. I'm not itching to meet anyone or go out to dinner or have a date. I'm itching to read The Lord of the Rings. I'm itching to craft and work on a project I have for my sisters' birthdays. I'm itching to plan the backyard and the rest of the basement. I love where I am and where I'm going.
I was thinking along these lines on the way home from work tonight. A thought came to me which felt revelatory. It was this: "I trust the Lord to provide and care for me. It would take a very Godly man to contribute to my life in such a way that I knew it would be better with him in it." That is the way I know I'm am in a very good place right now. A very good place.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Science of Happy

The last year has introduced me to hundreds of people and among them I have found many new friends. Lately, several of these have mentioned my happiness, that I am always smiling and laughing. For as long as I can remember, I've claimed to have an extra gene for 'happy'. Well, not long ago, they isolated a gene that prevents the breakdown of certain neurotransmitters. When they studied it they found that individuals with two copies of that particular gene reported feeling happy more of the time than those with only one copy. My jokes about the 'extra happy gene' may be more fact that I realized. There are other things contributing to my happiness, however. One is this; I don't insist that everything make sense to me. I don't insist that life's challenges fit into boundaries which I can comprehend. I accept that my finite nature cannot possibly comprehend the infinite and all that the infinite can comprehend. This saves me an enormous amount of time and worry, allowing for peace where there might otherwise be chaos in my heart. It is critical to my happiness.

In science it is assumed that everything can be weighed, measured and understood. There is a comfort in that kind of thinking, I guess. Thankfully it never appealed to me very much. Relating to the human body, anyone who devotes their life to the study of it has to admit that it's functioning is simply miraculous. We may know what it does but describing the how is another thing completely. How, for example, does one 'think'. All body function, including healing processes, are regulated in the brain with our old friends the neurotransmitters. And what about the healing and repair of bones and tissues? The constant influx and removal of fluid, elements, proteins... every tissue taking what it needs to build and repair. All subconscious. (Who gets nearer to healing the papercut on their finger by thinking about it?) The best we can hope for is to provide the appropriate support and environment for healing. The body then heals itself. Accepting that I am an observer and supporter of health and healing is the key to my happiness as a nurse. I understand enough to be helpful and when I act on what I do understand, I can make a difference.

As a mother, I've been pretty hands off for much the same reason. From the time my children were born, they have been their own and they have known it. Their demands on me were rightful—food, shelter, love and encouragement. Sometimes encouragement is correction, but it is always love and the love has to come first. The most I ever hoped for with toddlers was a somewhat peaceful coexistence, and that I might be able to carve out some time for my own hobbies when they were sleeping.  I wasn't any good at worrying about messes they were making or if they were doing what I wanted them to do. Children can clean up their messes, they can be bathed. My little children were happy little children. Now, I have a full blown adult, two teens and two tweens. My job, even with my 20 year-old is still to provide appropriate support and an environment conducive to growth. I still don't worry much, though I try to keep an eye on their emotional states and how they are coping with their challenges. When they are worried or stressed, they come to me. They pour their hearts out and we cry. They know that I won't be angry when they fall short, because we have that understanding—the I-am-your-mother-and-I-love-you-no-matter-what understanding. It's enough, and we are happy.

I will never understand everything, even in my field. I will never know all there is to know as a person, a nurse or a mother. So, I aim at peace. I aim for growth. I aim for health and healing. I support wtihout controlling. I will never know or understand everything but I understand enough. I trust One who understands all for the rest. And I am happy.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A Dinner Guest

Something interesting happened yesterday, right about dinner time. A young man from Ohio come to the door and asked the kids if their Mom was home. I wandered over, sure that it was someone selling something, and I was right. We talked for half a minute and I mentioned that we were just about to start dinner, or rather that we were going to read scriptures, and then eat. To that he said, "Are you going to read the Mormon Book? My Dad told me about that, I have one that someone gave me and I've been reading it." I told him that he was welcome to come in and read with us, and he said that he would love to. And so he did.

We read Alma 5:38-52. Everyone took turns reading a verse, including our guest. He was very respectful, and intersted in what we were reading. The section of scripture wasn't very long, but it was full of things I'd been wanting to share with my children. I shared everything with them in exactly the same way I would have if our guest had not been here. There is a section in those verses which speaks of learning for ourselves about God's will and plan for his children. I've been feeling that I wanted them to understand how I gained my testimony, so I spoke to them of my experience with the scriptures, starting when I was about 15.  It wasn't anything earth shattering, just that I started reading every day, and my testimony grew so that I didn't need to rely on my parents' knowledge. I knew for myself, and that's what Alma says, that he knows for himself. I can't imagine any more valuable information for the children of an LDS mother and a father who has left the church and is very angry regarding it sometimes. I know that the kids would have listened, but the presence of our surprise guest distilled the situation for us... it was more potent. He was listening and so they listened as we read and talked about it. As we were finishing, he said that he felt what we had given him was much more valuable than making a purchase from him. He thanked us for being a wonderful family, and sharing the message of Jesus with him. I gave him some dinner and he hurried off to meet up with his colleagues.

I wondered today what he will remember most about this experience with us. I'm sure it will be a unique one for him, if not singular, during his traveling salesman days. I hope it is that there are good people and good families in our country. I hope he felt love here. I am almost certain that we won't find another solicitor jumping at the chance to read scriptures with us. I'm sure it will be something that we tell my grandchildren someday. How many of our experiences in life are surprises to us, but not 'chance'. Many, I think, when we are open to them. When we are they have the potential to leave lasting, beautiful marks on our hearts.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Gratitude... & Joy.

It's six a.m. ...Can't sleep.

I've been lying here since four, oddly enough being kept awake by feelings of gratitude.  Makes me laugh to write those words, but it's the truth. I've had a couple of days off. Monday morning I pulled down the last winter decorations, and that night (with my children) brought 'garage-chaos' into submission. That alone was a happy-healthy moment.  Yesterday I cleaned a little bit, decorated for Spring and Easter and made dinner while the kids were at school. In the evening, the boys my son's age at church (and their leaders) came to help us tackle a painting project in the basement; an amazing and enormous help. Being here in our home and in our neighborhood is such a blessing. I cherish days like these when I can just be 'Abby' and 'Mom'. I love 'Abby the Nurse'—what she does and can do—especially how it makes the days here at home possible. Days that I work, we have extra arrangements to make so that life  happens on schedule, but we are adjusting. Life is happening and things are going well. We are flowing.

Words seem so inadequate for feelings like this, but I think what I'm feeling is joy. It's interesting to me that I have felt joy purely only after losses. The Christmas I had with my children when they had been with their father the year before; that was Joy! Now, enjoying my home after so many years away; it is an overwhelming happiness and gratitude. That, I think, is what Joy is all about. It is transcendent precisely because it understands the losses as well as the gains and can weigh the blessings in a grateful heart. The arrival of long-awaited blessings and hopes isn't always accompanied by peace and happiness. This has taken some time to percolate. At the very least,  it's been peaceful and improving since the storm ended in October.  It's funny that in order to arrive at this place of serenity, another dream had to fall apart. I've noticed that the kids seem to feel it, too. While we had a moment of disillusionment following the frightening end of my marriage,  we all seem to have reached a place of deeper contentment. We are a family, and we love each other. It's not that I expect to stay in a state of perpetual bliss; that's not what I see as Joy. It is life after all and life is fraught with challenges. I see a number of them out there, I need to prepare, but in the meantime, I am just so grateful. We are gratefully, blissfully, at home. Finally. It is a beautiful, joyous thing.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Reintroduction of Abby to Herself

For twenty-two years I signed my name the same way. I kept my married name post-divorce to remain cohesive with my children; we were still the 'C' family. That was important to me. Everything I did in the last twenty-two years, barring the last year, I did with that name. I graduated with two Bachelors degrees, reared children, applied for jobs, created email accounts and blogs, won awards, started businesses. When I re-married last December, it was very important to my new husband that I take his name, and I did. Within a very short time, however, it was clear that my husband was harboring some very difficult to manage previous emotional damage and illness. He had been kind, caring and respectful and loving to me and my children prior to our wedding. After that day, there were frequent episodes of emotional abuse and physical roughness which eventually led to more serious physical abuse. I had married Dr. Jekyll and come home to Mr. Hyde. By the end of October, every possible warning bell and siren was blaring. It wasn't safe to remain in the marriage.  I thought to myself, "here I go, again, on my own... goin' down the only road..." (K, sorry... that was just too tempting to pass up. By the way, does anyone else find it more than just a little ironic that David Coverdale is never alone in the video for that iconic break-up song? He's always got some girl crawling on him, ... or the car. His lonely street of dreams doesn't look very lonely, or authentic—in my own humble opinion. The producer lost some unreal opportunities for awesome-landscape-while-driving-alone-in-a-convertible footage there. Still, a great song. I'll just keep the reel of awesome-landscape-while-driving-alone-in-a-convertible footage running in my head when I listen to it.)

Now, months later, life is really good—notwithstanding the lonely street of dreams business. I've had so many dreams come true lately. Our neighborhood is wonderful. The kids love being back in our home after six years with my parents. They are doing very well in their new schools. Things at work are excellent. I was one of the first hired at a new facility and that is finally paying off with some seniority in the schedule. I have earned a little bit of respect. Immediately following the end of my marriage, my boss asked what name I'd like shown on the schedule and without hesitation I gave her my maiden name. My gut said, I'm not returning to the name of my first husband. And with that I was Abby 'T' at work. That is a nice feeling. There are still a few things in the system which need to be changed, along with the actual divorce and legal change of the name, but the feeling is good.

And then.... I ran headlong into some unexpected cognitive delay. I had been signing my name Abby T. 'S' for a year, on a million documents a day. It took a while for me to remember that I wasn't going to sign that anymore, like that lag that comes when you are writing the new year on checks after January 1st.  Slowly my brain found a new signature and Abby T. 'C' started coming from my pen; and remember, I have to sign my name a million times. Every. DAY. Finally (with about two months distance between me and the end) signing Abby A. 'T' became more natural and I'm starting to feel like that girl again. Such an odd thing, getting reacquainted with myself after living as 'someone else' for a while. Like peeling back layers of an onion, layers which I believed for a very long time, were ME. During this time, I've taken the opportunity to ask myself what Abby likes... really, truly likes and enjoys, thinks is beautiful and what makes her happy. I've learned a lot. It's been a wonderful un-becoming, a time for recognition. The new year feels especially poignant. My only real goal is to be true to myself; recognizing what is good and best for me and doing those things as often as possible.

And now a few timely quotes, okay four:

Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” ~Henry David Thoreau. 

You are so young, all still lies ahead of you, and I should like to ask you, as best I can, dear Sir, to be patient towards all that is unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms, like books written in a foreign tongue. Do not now strive to uncover answers: they cannot be given you because you have not been able to live them. And what matters is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then you will gradually, without noticing it, live your way into the answer, one distant day in the future. ~Rainer Maria Rilke (1875–1926), 1903 July 16th letter to Franz Xaver Kappus, from Worpswede, translated from German by Charlie Louth

“View your life with kindsight. Stop beating yourself up about things from your past. Instead of slapping your forehead and asking, ‘What was I thinking,’ breathe and ask yourself the kinder question, ‘What was I learning?’” ~Karen Salmonsohn

Maybe the journey isn't so much about becoming anything. Maybe it's about un-becoming everything that isn't really you so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place. ~Unknown