Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Top 10 Phrases in My Vocabulary I Need to Replace

On some level, we're all on a quest for happiness. We may not pursue that quest on such a grand scale as Gretchen Rubin with her happiness projects or Elizabeth Gilbert with her Eat Pray Love trek around the world, but we're all finding personal ways to define what happiness means to us.

I'm in the beginning stages of changing my perspective through rewiring my brain to eliminate (or at least lessen the frequency of) certain go-to words and phrases and replacing them with more positive ones. I'm hoping the existence of the replacement phrases will make the originals unnecessary and eventually obsolete.
Here are my...

Top 10 Phrases in My Vocabulary I Need to Replace

10. Replace "Diet Pepsi" with "Club Soda with Lime." (I'm on Day 8 of living a Diet Pepsi-free life, and the cravings are brutal!)

9. Replace "Too busy" with "A healthy balance."

8. Replace "Flabby arms" with "Daily push-up challenge." (Hello, triceps. It's lovely to see you again.)

7. Replace "Anger" with "Peace."

6. Replace "I don't understand" with "Expect the unexpected." (I've come to realize there are things in life, like other people's motives, that I will simply never understand or possess the ability to change. It's easier to accept that and prepare myself for anything.)

5. Replace "Where is Spring?!" with "Spring is here!" (I expect to have a new outlook once this long winter of hibernation ends. Spring is my favorite season.)

4. Replace "Hatred" with "Forgiveness."

3. Replace "Exhausted" with "Accomplished." (I accomplish a lot on any given day. I should consider my end-of-the-day fatigue a sign of productivity.)

2. Replace "Talk it out" with "Sweat it out." (Sometimes rehashing negative energy exacerbates the problem with every retelling of the story. But going for a run does nothing but create positive energy for me.)

1. Replace "Drama" with "Laughter" (Even if that means laughing off the drama.)

What words or phrases in your vocabulary would you like to replace?

Friday, April 25, 2014

Happy Moments

I recently discovered Instagram. I created an account a couple years ago, but never really got into it until last month. Now Instragram is my favorite social media platform. You know why?

Happy moments.

When I scroll down my Instagram feed, I see beauty, laughter, smiles, motivation, encouragement, muscles, empowerment, family. I see happiness.

Other people's Instagram happiness is contagious, and I suddenly found myself sharing my own happiness, those little moments that sneak into my days that remind me of the happiness that surrounds me in subtle ways.

The last couple of years haven't been the greatest for me. But I've discovered it's those little moments of happiness that matter. And those little moments gradually accumulate until they far outnumber the moments of unhappiness.

So I've decided it's time to focus on the happy moments -- however long or short they may be -- and share them along the way. Here's the first of many, many more to come...

Happy Moment: Just a Girl and Her Dog

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Top 10 Breakup Songs

***Bad language alert. If the F word offends you, stop after #2.***

Music is a staple in my life. I can’t run without it. I can’t work without it. I can't celebrate without it. And I can’t get through hard times without it.
My divorce was no exception. Music was my comfort during the many transitions as it helped me process all the new thoughts and emotions I was going through. Music was there when I needed a cleansing cry. It was there when I needed to jump up and down and scream. It was there when I needed to just mentally check out for awhile and disappear in someone else’s heartache.

Given the time, I could probably extend this list to my top 100 breakup songs, but for now I’ll stick with my top 10. Ok, so maybe it’s a few more than 10 because I couldn't make up my mind, but certain songs are simply impossible to decide between. 

In any case, here are my...

Top 10 Breakup Songs

10. "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor

Everybody wants some reassurance during a breakup that they’ll survive and thrive on the other side. A must-listen when in need of empowerment.
"But now I hold my head up high
And you see me
Somebody new
I'm not that chained up little person
Still in love with you."

9. "You’re So Vain" by Carly Simon

A lot going on in this song.

8. "Go Your Own Way" by Fleetwood Mac
Seriously, go your own way. I’m going mine.

7. "Apologize" by OneRepublic

"You tell me that you need me,
Then you go and cut me down.
But wait...
You tell me that you're sorry,
Didn't think I'd turn around
And say
That it's too late to apologize."

6. "Say Hello, Wave Goodbye" by David Gray (I think much better than the Soft Cell version)
"I never knew you, you never knew me."


5. "Brave" by Sara Bareilles
Not necessarily a breakup song, but this tune got me through a lot of rough days. It also encouraged me to write.


4. "Somebody That I Used to Know" by Gotye
"Told myself that you were right for me
But felt so lonely in your company."

3. A Kelly Clarkson Tie:

"Since U Been Gone"
"You had your chance, you blew it."

"Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)"
"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger
Stand a little taller
Doesn't mean I'm lonely when I'm alone."

2. A P!nk tie. (P!nk is a badass. Pretty much anything with her name on it would make this list. But these are my favorites.)

"So What"
"You weren't there,
You never were,
You want it all,
But that's not fair,
I gave you life,
I gave my all,
You weren't there,
You let me fall."

"I'm alright,
I'm just fine,
And you're a tool."

"Blow Me (One Last Kiss)"
"I think I've finally had enough, I think I maybe think too much
I think this might be it for us (blow me one last kiss)."

1. A Fuck You Tie
In an angry phase and need to drop a few F bombs?  Crank either of these and couple with a Dammit Doll for a wonderful anger release.

"Fuck You" by Lily Allen


"Fuck You" by CeeLo Green
"And although there’s pain in my chest
I still wish you the best
With a 'fuck you.'"

What are your favorite breakup songs?


Monday, April 21, 2014

Aloha to the First Post-Divorce PCS Move


There are many parts of military life that I can’t escape despite my status as an ex-military wife. And while I may have over a decade of military life experience under my belt, my status change has greatly altered how those parts affect me.

Simple things, like taking the kids to the clinic on base last week for their summer camp physicals, now feel foreign to me. I had to explain that the sponsor was no longer my husband, that the kids no longer lived with him, that my last name was no longer the same as theirs. I had to say no to my son when he asked if we could swing by the Exchange and explain that I can’t shop there. I didn’t feel like I belonged on base, and I was relieved to drive through the exit gates after the appointment and return to my civilian world.

But going on base for my kids’ appointment is ultimately pretty insignificant when there are much bigger military life norms to deal with. Like a PCS move.

My ex-husband is PCS’ing in June. To Hawaii. For three years.

(To give you a frame of reference, we currently live in Virginia.)

When I first learned about his orders, I didn’t really believe him. After all, we had just gotten divorced. Why in the world would he accept orders so far away from his children so soon after such a huge transition for them? I had my theories as to why he would tell me he was moving to Hawaii, but those theories ended with him saying, “Just kidding. I’m staying here. I couldn’t do that to the kids.”

Turns out, he wasn’t kidding. He did accept orders to Hawaii. As his ex-wife, I have no right to contribute my input regarding his career trajectory, so I didn’t. Instead, I’ve started bracing myself for the consequences of his decision.

For the next three years, I will essentially have full custody of our kids, despite our legal shared custody. (I won’t go into the financial aspect of this change, but that’s a huge issue as well.) If and when he returns to this geographic vicinity, our daughter will be closing in on her 10th birthday and our son will be 13.

There’s no clear plan about when the kids will see their father in the next three years. He wants to take them every summer, but I don’t see how his travel schedule will possibly allow him to supervise them for eight straight weeks. As far as holidays, they’re already divided in the divorce decree, but I’m predicting major changes to that schedule. For instance, Thanksgiving is too short of a break to send the kids to Hawaii. Is he really going to fly back here? Plus, he hasn’t even left yet, and he’s already passing holidays off to me. (He was supposed to have Easter yesterday, but gave it to me because of his “schedule.”)

And then there’s the basic issue of travel. How are the kids going to get to Hawaii? They’re too young to make that flight alone. Is he going to fly back to get them? Will his parents take them? And who is paying for plane tickets that are the farthest thing from inexpensive?

But my most immediate concern is how my children are dealing with the prospect of being so far away from their father for such an extended period of time. Even though I feel it’s my ex’s responsibility to provide the proper explanations to the children about his move, I’m often the one left to spell things out and prepare them for the realities of what’s about to happen. While he’s gushing about “the most beautiful beaches in the world” and giving them vague promises of when they’ll visit him, I find myself being the bad guy as I explain to my daughter that her father’s move to Hawaii means she won’t be spending weekends with him anymore.

I often feel ill-equipped to answer some of the kids’ questions because I don’t have any answers myself. I’m thankful for the wonderful “talking doctors” the kids see on a regular basis. The kids actually enjoy going to their therapy sessions, and I’m relieved to have professionals helping to both prepare the kids for their father leaving and to talk it through after he’s gone.

So what does this PCS move mean to me outside of how it affects my children?

It means I’m going to be a full-time single mother. Yes, I’m a single mom now, but I get time to myself when the kids are with their father most weekends. I can socialize, meet up on Sunday mornings with the awesome running club I joined, and generally recharge before another work/school week. All of that is about to change. Any personal time for me will soon require advanced planning, a babysitter, and probably mommy guilt.

It also means there’s a possibility I won’t see my ex more than a handful of times, if at all, in the next three years.  No more Saturday and Monday meetings to exchange the kids, the dog, and their belongings. No more tension-filled face-to-face conversations. No more formulating back-up plans because of his last-minute schedule changes. No more unnecessary drama.

And that’s why I’m looking forward to the day he leaves.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Secret of Change


I repeat this to myself often.

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Girl Needs Her Dog

“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”
~ Roger A. Caras

Last Wednesday my precious dog Gunner went in to the veterinary hospital for a routine surgery. 

That night I left him in the ICU fighting for his life, while I went home and wondered if he would make it through the night and how I could possibly live my life without him.

Gunner survived the night, but he was still bleeding internally. While the vet opened him back up and performed another surgery, I reminisced about the times we shared together, especially during the last year when he offered me the unconditional love that only dogs know how to give.

Gunner spent a second night in the ICU. Losing hope, I said my goodbyes. As I looked down at his lifeless body, I kissed his head, thanked him for being the most loyal companion a girl could ever hope for and begged him not to leave me. Seconds later I watched him being carried off on a stretcher, not knowing if I'd ever see this vibrant, happy dog alive again.

The next morning I got word that Gunner was indeed still alive, but he needed to be observed all day in the hopes that he could possibly come home that night. I was allowed to visit him at lunchtime, and I was truly amazed when I saw that Gunner was not only up and around, but he was practically jogging outside in the sunshine.

My dog Gunner is a fighter, and late that night, he was back home where he belongs. I slept on an air mattress beside him, waking to every twitch and every medicated dreamy moan.

We both spent the weekend resting. I'm constantly watching him for irregular breathing, bleeding and changes in the color of his gums. I hand-feed him chicken and rice and keep charts of his medicine schedule. Other than the cone he has to wear to prevent him from licking or chewing his stitches, you would never guess there was anything wrong with him. You certainly wouldn't guess that a team of veterinarians were giving him less than a 50-50 chance of survival.

 It is now 5 days after the initial surgery, and Gunner continues to improve. He still isn't out of the woods, and no one seems quite sure how the cancerous tumor they removed from his abdomen has affected his body or what his prognosis is. But he's already proved he's a survivor. I don't think he's planning on changing now.
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