Grace

Grace. Giving grace to others is about showing kindness even when it is not always deserved.  To me, grace is going out of my way to show compassion, kindness and love to someone even if they might not appreciate it, or return the favor. It is choosing to do the right thing even when someone may have hurt me in the past or might even hate the sight of me. Giving grace to others means I take the high road.
That high road is long, lonely and exhausting. Doing the right thing, giving grace, is not always my first instinct nor is it always easy. It is often difficult and painful. But in the end, I know that it is the right thing to do.
These past few years I have done what I thought was the right thing over and over again. I have witnessed my children in deep pain in many different ways. I have soaked it all up like a sponge. I have slapped on a smile and kept my mouth closed all while absorbing their pain. They each lash out and emote in different ways. I see and feel their pain like only a mom can. My momma heart knows that I am the ‘safe’ one. They know that my love is stable and unwavering, that I am not going anywhere. So they emotionally vomit all over me and I just clean it all up. I continually offer them grace.
I want things to be easier for my children. I want to take away all the pain and make things easier for them. I want to feel all the hard feelings for them so them don’t have to experience any of it. But I can’t. I know that ‘you have to feel it to heal it.’ So I offer them grace.
The same it true for my friends. I see and feel their pain too. I absorb it all. I am an emotional sponge. And I offer everyone grace.
I am terrified to let any one down, scared to disappoint anyone. It seems that no matter what I do, not matter how hard I try, it is never really enough. Doing the right thing, taking the high road, supporting everyone, is exhausting and I am so very tired. I keep trying to balance all the spinning plates, but can’t stop some from stopping, falling, breaking. There is little to no grace left.
After it is all said and done, at the end of each day, I become so overwhelmed with trying to fix things and protect people that I lose myself in the process. I struggle to find myself in it all and find my center. I struggle to find a piece of that grace I so willingly and generously offer to others.
So what then? Well, I grab the little scrap of grace that is left and hold on for dear life. I cling to what remains like a drowning person. A person drowning in an ocean of tears and feelings. A person who is struggling to stay afloat. I remain in that space, floating, until I can regain my composure, find my footing and begin again.
Give yourself some grace before there is none left for you. Allow yourself to float for a minute…or more. Because when you offer yourself grace, it is so much easier to offer it to others.
Peace.
#tutulady
#forwardisapace

30

I was 26.
The year was 1992.
The photographer was my very own brother.
This is the only copy of this photo I have and it was ruined in a flood. The glass has come off in parts but I think it adds to the dimension of the photo.
I have always loved this photo so I decided to recreate it with an updated twist to represent the woman I am now…. 30 years later.
The year is 2022.
I am 56 years old.
The pieces are finally coming together.
Oh the things I would tell that young woman… the lessons she would learn, the mistakes she would make, the wisdom she would gain. I know we would have been good friends had we known each other then. I’m so proud of that girl for all she has become.
Peace
#tutulady
#forwardisapace

10

The ten year challenge has been super popular on social media lately. I am not normally one to jump on one of these challenges, but this time? For sure.
I took time to reflect on all the has changed over the past 10 years…..and there is a LOT! Here’s a list in not specific order:
– 4 kids graduated from high school.
– I got divorced (that alone took YEARS to accomplish and years off my life!)
– represented myself Pro Se in court several times
– I moved 2 different times, downsizing each time!
– bought and sold 3 cars of my own (one of my proudest moments was negotiating these deals on my own)
– wrote and published a book
– started, and currently run, 3 different businesses
– ran 9 marathons and countless other races from 5K’s to half marathons
– said goodbye to 2 dogs and hello to another
– survived a pandemic (and am still playing Frogger with the virus!)
– got my CCL (and have since requalified and renewed it!)
– got certified as a coach in several different areas
– created a support system of women who have surrounded me with love, guided me with wisdom and blessed me with friendship
– gained financial control and independence
– created a peaceful home and space where people enjoy spending time
– developed deeper, more authentic relationships with all 5 of my children
– found my own center of gravity, my heart and my soul

There are so many other things to add to the list but these are the biggest changes of which I am most proud. So much can happen in the span of a single year and even more in the span of ten years. When I look at the calendar, a decade does not seem long. But when I look at myself, I realize how long it has been and how far I have come. I cannot change the events which occurred in the last 10 years of my life but I can look back at all the lessons learned that have made me the woman I am today. If someone would have told that overwhelmed, trapped, woman who had lost herself that the next 10 years would lead to the biggest and most dramatic transformation of her life…..she would never have believed it.
I lost a great deal over the past 10 years but one thing that never got lost was my hope and my faith. My hope and faith in a higher power, as well as faith that there was a plan for my life have guided my every step so for in my life. I may not always understand that plan nor like it at times, but I trust and believe that the universe has my back.
The next 10 years have 120 months and over 3650 days. I intend to make every single one count.
Peace
#tutulady
#forwardisapace


Four

Photo from outside the courthouse August 9, 2017

Four years ago, at 4:19pm my high conflict, 748 day divorce battle was officially finalized by the judge.
Happy 4th Divorcery to ME!
Each year on this day, I celebrate the end of my over 20 year marriage and beginning of my new life. If someone had told me on that day in 2017 how much would change in my life, I would never have believed them. I actually laughed that day and thought that freedom just felt good enough for me.
Over the course of our 20 year marriage, my wasband was unfaithful numerous times and I always looked the other way. I knew it would never last long, and truth be told, I was focused on my kids and did not have the time or energy to deal with his nonsense.
I have told my story many times now and continue to tell it as to educate and empower others. Earlier in the week I wrote a post about an event in August of 2014 that put things in motion. He yelled at me in public. He was comfortable enough and empowered enough to demean me in public…..and that was pivotal. I spent the following month questioning everything.
October of 2014 was our 20 year anniversary and we went to dinner (his favorite place not mine) and midway through dinner, several of his buddies joined us. Yes, I was celebrating my anniversary …3 men and me!
As the days and weeks progressed, I started asking more questions about money, bills, and changes on credit cards. I started asking questions about work hours and over time. I started looking for proof that the cheating was not in my head this time….that I was not “crazy” (as he called me over and over)
Christmas that year lead to physical battles over checkbooks, bills and cashflow. I was not allowed to have access to the checking account because I was “bad with money” and given an allowance even though I was a full time working professional.
Spring brought more bills, more utility disconnections, more unexplained (lies) charges and more fighting. I continued to compile evidence.
May of 2015 was D-Day. I confronted him which led to a huge fight. I moved his things down to the ‘extra’ bedroom. We lived in a war zone for weeks until I went away for a few days with the kids. When I got back he had taken several plastic tubs of clothing and left.
July 23, 2015, I filed for divorce and he was served.
748 days later, our divorce was final.
1,461 days later, I am free.
The past 4 years have not been easy. I have done a lot of work on myself and made a great deal of changes in my life. I have given up on worrying about other people’s expectations of me. I have given up carrying baggage that is not mine to carry or is just too damn heavy for me to carry alone. I have given up the feelings of shame and failure that often accompany being divorced. I have given up the anger that I was not enough. I have given up the sadness that I wasted years of my life. I have given up regrets.
I am slowly reclaiming parts of the woman I once was and rebuilding my life. I am creating new and better relationships with each of my children as well as my friends. I am finding new things I love about teaching and returning to my roots in education. I am realizing that I have gifts and talents that need exploration. I am constantly being reminded by those that love me that I am worth my own time, effort and love. That I am worthy, I matter and not to devalue myself.
I was asked recently if I would date/love again. The answer is complicated. It is not a simple yes or no. I am in love with my life (even the shitty, difficult, uncomfortable parts) and enjoy my own company. I would love to share my life with someone, however, that person would have to add value and not complicate the life I have and am creating for myself. That is a tall order but I believe that person is out there. I have not given up on love!
Each day of this new life is a gift and I do not take even one minute for granted. I try to live it all to the fullest. I take chances and make mistakes. I learn from my mistakes and move forward…one step at a time. This 4 year Divorcery is one of the best yet! I continue to grow and make progress! Each day brings more joy, more love, more happiness!
So today, just like each year on this day, I remember the courage it took to free myself. I remember how hard I fought to save my family. I remember how hard I fought to save myself and create a better life for my children. I remember the mistakes I made and all the lessons I learned in the process. Instead of focusing on the pain, I find comfort in the good times and growth. I know, deep in my soul, that I am stronger and capable of so much more than I ever imagined. I am moving forward, focused on the future.
If I can do it, anyone can! I am here to inspire, assist and support you in any way possible!
I am courageous. I am brave. I am empowered. I am free.
And you can be too!
Peace
#tutulady
#forwardisapace

Timehop

I have a love/hate relationship with Timehop and the daily memories it shows me.
I hate it because it reminds me of memories I would rather forget but I love it because it reminds me of all the good times and, more importantly, how far I have come.
Today, today was one of those not so great memory days. It is funny because yesterday something triggered this memory. I scrolled Timehop today to see the photos of that day and it all came flooding back….like watching a rerun of an old TV show I had seen a million times.
It was a Tuesday. My girls were already in school and we had to take a drive to take the jet ski out of the water near my parents home as it was the end of the season. My wasband, young son and I loaded up and drove out there. We spent the day on the beach and I took one last ride on the jet ski to end the season.
As was the routine, I walked up, got in our truck and headed to the boat slip while my wasband drove the jetski to meet me there. It was already an odd day and we had not spoken much but I no clue what was coming.
I pulled up and waited for him. When he arrived, I started to back the trailer up as I was instructed. I don’t know if y’all are aware of how difficult it is to back up a boat trailer while driving a full size suburban when you can not see said trailer. It was as if someone flipped a switch on the wasband. He started screaming, yelling, cussing and berating me. To be honest, this was not new but this was the first time in public. Other boaters and the harbor master just stood there. After a few minutes the harbor master walked over and calmly asked my wasband if he needed any help. He told him no and brushed him off. The HM then walked past the front of the truck, looked at me and mouthed,
“You ok?” I nodded. All the while, my son is laying on the floor of the back seat trying to hide.
Could the wasband jumped in the truck and backed it up himself? Yup…..but he didn’t.
Once the jet ski was out of the water, he complained that there was not a dry/unsandy towel for him to dry off…..
I suggested that we go eat something thinking he was hungry. We went to a local Brewery and when we were not allowed to sit at the bar because our son was with us? Well, the hostess was well aware of his displeasure. I took my son to the rest room and was again, asked by a stranger (the hostess) if I was ok. I said yes and made excuses.
We drove home in silence for over an hour until I apologized for suggesting the trip and not backing up correctly.
I knew something was wrong that day. I knew my marriage was in trouble. What I didn’t know was that it was not my fault. My wasband was already having an affair at that point. It would be a few months before I would have face that reality.
That was 7 years ago. The jet ski was parked in the garage that day and never used again. It was sold 5 years later after we were divorced. The battle and sale of the jet ski is another story for another day.
Back to my love/hate with Timehop. I was determined to create a new memory for today. So I took one long look at that old picture and it clicked. I needed to go to the water. I packed up my bike and headed to the lakefront. I rode for 20 miles along the Lakefront, taking in the beauty of the city and all the while releasing that woman that I was on that day(and other days like it). I repeated over and over, “You have come so far. There is peace in your solitude. There is happiness in your heart.”
I stopped on the ride back and looked out over the choppy lake water. I realized that I had weathered the storms that were meant to sink me. I had learned to keep my head above water, swim and eventually surf all the waves of emotion. I took a beep breath and forgave myself for that day. I made a promise to myself that I would never again lose my sense of direction again. I promised myself that I help other women like me find themselves again. I promised to love myself again.
Peace
#tutulady
#forwardisapace