Author Archives: beshelley

Snowy Day Musings

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blog pic snow day

Isn’t this a perfect day to have a cup of tea and curl up on the sofa with a book?  I think so. In the picture is the last blanket that my mother crocheted for me and I treasure it.  Anyway, it’s great to wrap up in it on the couch and read.  So I took a break from my lounging and Facebook viewing, and Pinterest, to do some writing.

I recently got some news about the ex-husband, good news for him of course, but sad and somewhat depressing for me. I’m not going in to any details but I will say that once again I have to bounce back, “get over it”, and move forward.  So how do I do this?

First, I always give myself permission to cry, get angry, or whatever emotion is welling up inside. I’ve found that holding it back causes my heart to swell, my head to hurt from holding back tears, and there is a hollow feeling in my belly.  Not good.  So I go with it.  And get it all out so I can move past it.  Of course, not indefinitely, but long enough that the pain begins to fade.  I give myself permission to mourn.  And then I work at putting it out of my mind.

Of course this isn’t easy but I take it one day at a time, and usually am able to diminish the effect over time. You see, my head knows that I’m better and happier now; it’s just my foolish heart that still dreams about old love.  (Because we did have many good times.)

Anyway, forward I go. Another strategy that I’ve added is to be grateful every day, to stay positive, to laugh, and to stay busy.  All of this helps.  Time spent alone and brooding is not the way to get back to the “happy place” in my head.

I also have done some reading such as “The Law of Attraction”, “The Secret”, among others, and I try to be mindful of what I’m attracting to myself with my thoughts. Even if you don’t believe in this theory, I figure it can’t hurt.

The last and best thing that helps is talking to my son and playing with my grandson, who is very demanding about MeMa’s story telling. It’s hard to stay sad while he and I are hanging out in the bathroom while he sits on the toilet and I have to tell the story about the hippos lining up to go potty in the jungle, where there is only one toilet….don’t ask for more details, please! He loves for me to make up stories and sometimes the well is pretty dry!  This little boy keeps me happy.  He loves to come in my room and climb on my bed, will still occasionally fall asleep in my arms, and tells me regularly “that’s not fair MeMa!”, something I have thought many times about the ex’s latest escapade as well as some others.

Anyway, the pendulum is swinging back up; I’m getting over it, and life will be fine again soon.

So now, back to my snow watching, as it hasn’t stopped yet, Facebook and Pinterest, and reading my book.  Hope your day is as good as mine!

Things Are Looking Up!

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Things Are Looking Up!

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything so I thought I would post an update so you can see how things have been going for me. Pour your tea and get comfortable cause I think this may be a long one!

First, I’ve left my 12 hour work days behind. In October, I made a job change that had been in the works for a while and though I still have a somewhat long commute, I’m home by 6:30 and have time to actually do something besides work.  The surprising thing about the change was how sad I was to leave the other job and the friends I had made there.  My co-workers, Lynn, Victor, Brandy, Jamie, Denieka, and my replacement Barbara are what made the long days and commute bearable.  And what I realized is that they were really going to miss me too, the “me” I became after the divorce.  I never knew how much I had changed during the marriage, and how consumed I was trying to do everything right, for the wrong man-it changed me a lot.  So I became my true self again and people like that person better!  Very eye opening.  So it was with tears and sadness that I left but I’ll be seeing them all again on December  12th and am totally looking forward to it.  I still miss them. (Update:  We got together and had a great time.  It was wonderful to see everyone.)

About two months ago, my dear friend Victor brought me a wonderful gift-from Peru, his family home. He had sent money to his mother, a jewelry maker also, and asked her to pick out some beads for me at the market and a few weeks ago, the beads arrived via a family member who traveled to the United States, and Victor presented them to me.  So he has revived my interest in making jewelry only this time I will be making prayer beads and Yoga beads, starting over with a new business name.  Of course, I’ll post news about it when it’s ready!  I’m doing research because every religion has different representations and I want to be sure to incorporate these into the beads.

I received some good news! My one year follow up to the biopsy was negative!  I’m so grateful.  It was a terrible scare last year and so many women go through it, and men, and I’m just so glad that it all was clear.  So please ladies, get those mammograms done regularly.  And men should be checked also.  You may not know that men can get breast cancer but they can.

I’ve joined the local gym recently and will be using the pool and work-out room as often as I can get my lazy self over there. I plan on lifting weights, swimming, walking on the treadmill, and cycling.  I recently created a pin on Pinterest called Beautiful Aging and it’s amazing to see how many women age 60 and above look fantastic and healthy.  I’ve been eating very low carb for a while and have lost about 25 pounds, from a tight size 18 to borderline 14, which is a good size for me, not thin but not fat.  That way I can eat pizza or a cheesesteak once in a while!  Anyway, can you say STRONG, HEALTHY WOMAN?!

Another project I’m involved in is going to be called “Shelley’s Closet”, a Facebook store that will feature new and used clothing for women and men, kid stuff, books, and household items. It will mostly be local pickup and delivery (of course at a safe location) with maybe some shipping.  We’ll see.  Anyway, my girlfriend Kathy and I love to go to yard sales and thrift shops, hunting for those hidden treasures, and it’s amazing what people donate and sell.  There are tons of FB groups for selling items so I’m taking my chance at doing this too.  My ultimate goal of course is to create several sources of income, doing things that I like, and ease into working part time, and then retirement.  Well, maybe retirement.  I really can’t see not having a job or something to do every day and I like to be busy, plus having the interaction with different people is a plus, but I think I would just like it to be a bit more casual than now.

Before I go I have to tell you about online dating. I actually dislike it but where I live, there isn’t any place to go to meet anyone, really, and I decided to give it a try.  I’m on two sites and had to create a profile and then post pictures, and then get up the nerve to actually write to someone.  After being married for 30+ years, it was very hard for me to make the transition to seeing myself as single.  I felt like I was “cheating” for the longest time and had trouble even talking to anyone.  Very shy.  Horrors! It was like being a teenager again!  But I stuck with it and have been dating a bit.  In fact, I met a guy right away, first day online, and we went out several times and had a good time but didn’t “click” so eventually just sort of drifted into neverland.  There are a lot of fake profiles on the sites and if you’re paying attention, you can recognize them because they all sort of are the same, so I never give out my phone number or email until I’m sure I’m talking to a real person.  And even then, I’m kind of slow to give it out.  I have met some nice men but part of me wonders if I’ll ever meet someone special because none of them were “the one”!  I did meet two guys who had good possibilities but one bailed when he really understood about the cane and my physical limitations and the other lived pretty far and decided to look for someone closer. It’s funny too that the best looking guys, and the most interesting profiles, are too far away to be practical to meet.  Figures.  And a lot of guys in their 60’s are looking for younger women and 66 is way too old for them.  I think they don’t know what they’re missing but it’s their loss.  I’m happy being single and not sure it will be something I need to change.  We’ll see.

Before I close, I would like to say that starting over late in life isn’t easy. If any of you are faced with this, you’ll get through it as I did, and still am.  I started the blog, in part, to share what I’ve learned about this process and if my experiences have helped anyone at all, I’m happy.  I thought I would never get over my husband choosing to leave, but I did.  I see him occasionally and I always make sure I strut my stuff when he’s around so he can see what he’s missing but seriously, I have come a very long way and have survived.  You will too.  The important thing to remember is to love yourself, do what makes you feel good, and take care of yourself.  Surround yourself with support people, and again I have to thank my son for being there for me, laugh with your grandchildren, stay busy, make changes when you’re ready, and stay positive.

So friends, it was good to talk to you again. I’m filled with gratitude that you’re in my life.  The teapot is empty now so until next time, have a wonderful, family-and-friend-filled Thanksgiving, a Merry Christmas, yes I said it!, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year.  It’s going to be a great year, 2016!!

Love, Shelley

 

Catching you Up!

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A lot has gone on since my last posting so I’m going to make some tea and then briefly tell you about it.

Ready?…….OK.

First would be work.  I have three jobs necessitated by the full time one paying so little.  The good news, I guess, is that I work four 10-hour days, leaving me time to work somewhere else in the off time.  I have four more years before I can collect my maximum Social Security so I’m using the time to get out of debt, put money aside, and mostly keep up with my living expenses.  Thus, one full time and two part time jobs.  It tends to suck the life out of me, working like this, and I have to add two hours of travel daily to those 10 hours.  I get home by 9:00 PM and want to do nothing. Just veg.

Summer 2015...Life is Good!

Summer 2015…Life is Good!

My retirement plan definitely did not include divorce but I’ve managed to stay financially afloat, with the help of my son.  We’re getting ready to have a huge yard sale so I can finally get rid of a lot of crap that has been hanging around for many years.  When I’m done, I hope to see only necessities, which will of course include books, craft supplies, and more books!

Next, my husband filed for divorce and I just opened the notice today.  I’ve been carrying it around unopened for about a month; couldn’t open it.  Sad, scared, angry….you name it, I feel it, or felt it.  It came about a month before our 35th anniversary, which just passed. But the good news is that I’m OK, pretty much.  I’ll be honest and tell you that there was a brief pain in my heart.  After all, I’ve known the man since I was 21.  But, time has dulled the ache, the tears are mostly over, and I’m fine without him.  Cheers for me!!  Let the “other woman” deal with his habits now, cause he hasn’t changed and is doing his usual, out running around all the time.  So, I’m free and happy to be!

I’ve also been exploring online dating, not my favorite thing, but when all I do is work, how else would I meet someone?  I’m not quite sure what I’m looking for, meaning do I ever want to marry again?  I guess I’ll see how it goes and who does the asking.  The funny thing is that the guys look so old to me, but who am I kidding?  I’m the same age!!  I’ve met some nice but dull guys, written to a bunch, had a lot of phishing since my age group is targeted as old, desperate, and stupid, (do I want to send them money for whatever scheme they have in mind? HA!) and surprisingly have had a lot of really young guys wanting me to fulfill their sexual fantasies of young guy-older woman.  Dare I say Mrs. Robinson?  But I look at my 65 year old self and say NAH to that.  Really not interested.  I recently had a guy start writing to me and after several weeks of messages that sounded really promising, he decided that I live too far and called it off before we met in person.  This was the first time I saw any possibilities but in typical guy fashion, he would have just disappeared with no notice but I called him on it and at least got a message saying “not going to work”.  But, did I tell you that my sister met a great guy online, after several years of looking, and just set the wedding date!  Happy for her.

The next step will be changing jobs to one that pays better so I can work less, join the local Y and begin working out and swimming, save for a cruise to Italy (God knows when I’ll have saved enough for that!) and move onward and upward.  Since I have to work four more years until I’m 70, I want to get the most out of it.  Starting over has been hard, but not impossible, and I’m proud of myself for staying the course.  I’ve gone through a lot since 2008 and will surely go through more, but I’m up for the challenge.

Until next time!

Shelley

I Miss You Rocky

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CAM00108Rocky is, was, my little Yorkie.  He was a friend who stood by me at all times, a protector.  He was there when my husband left, he was the first thing I did for me with no regard for my husband.  I got him for me.  And when my husband left, Rocky was my boy!  He was such good company, a real cuddle-bug, so cute. A great watch dog too. And now he’s gone.  I’m still trying to take it in, expecting to see him in his little bed when I get home from work, ears perked up because he hears me coming.  I tried but couldn’t write this sooner; it happened about a month ago.  Here’s the story.CAM00078

Rocky had horrible breath at times so I bought him a bag of those teeth cleaning bones, a brand that is sold in many stores but not the most popular.  I gave him one about 3:00 on Sunday and by 8:00AM Monday he was dead.  I’m not saying the bone killed him but here’s what happened.  imagejpeg_0(7)

He ate the bone and about an hour or two later, threw up.  It was a white liquid, like the bone, and a piece that he hadn’t chewed.  He was fine, playing, running around, so I took him outside for a while, on his leash.  I tried to keep a good eye on him outside because he seemed to eat anything, even a rock one time, and I didn’t want him to eat anything bad for him.  But we were in the grass and as vigilant as I was, I can’t swear he didn’t ingest something.  Anyway, around 10:00 I got into bed and as I always do, lifted him up to lay down with me, which he did for a minute but then leaped off the bed.  He did his usual for a while and then heard my son, but didn’t chase him as he usually does.  Clue number 1.  I also thought, when I lifted him up that one of his legs seemed funny but he ran around on the bed and then jumped off, all normal.  Clue number 2?  In the middle of the night, I got up for the bathroom and he stayed in his bed as he usually did but sometime before I drifted back off, I heard him throw up again.  Clue number 3.  My thought was that I would clean it up in the morning because if I got up, then I wouldn’t go back to sleep.  I got up at 6:30 and my baby was lying in his bed, limp, tongue hanging out.  I missed all the clues that seemed so insignificant at the time and missed the chance to possibly save him.

I freaked.  “Rocky, Rocky”, I called to him.  I felt his side and he was limp and I thought not breathing but he heard my voice and rallied.  I froze and then my son got up and came in my room and couldn’t believe what he saw.  I wrapped Rocky in a towel and picked him up while my son made some calls.  I laid Rocky on the bed and started to get dressed though I knew it was too late to help him.  I could just tell.  I was going to race down the road to the vet but then he convulsed and died in my arms.  I still can’t believe it.  I just sat and held him, numb.  Everyone left for work and I laid him out in his bed, with his pillow and blanket, his favorite toy, dressed in his hoodie.  We were going to bury him that night so I made sure he was safe, and then had to go to work myself, crying all the way.  I felt like it was my fault for buying those stupid bones.  So what if he had yuk breath!

All night, when I could have gotten some help, that poor baby was dying.  I don’t know if he ate something outside or if it was the dental bone.  When I walked him in the dark he could have eaten something that I couldn’t see but for me, my guilt is the same no matter what it was.  CAM00147

So my little companion, my little fur baby, is gone.  The grief that I felt, and feel, is way more than I would have thought.  I’ve never been a “dog person” but this little boy got into my heart and meant a lot to me.  The depth of my grief is surprising to me but he was in my life through the whole separation.  He even bit my ex one time and I secretly cheered. (It was only biting his Carharts so it didn’t hurt!)  He’s buried under the tree out front and I find myself standing at the window sometimes, just looking at the spot, trying to understand what happened.  Though I really can’t.  I still have all of his things in my room, clothes, bowls, crate, bed.  I’ll get around to packing it up, sometime. I told my grandson that Rocky’s mommy was crying because she missed him so he went to visit her.  He’s only two so believes that.  I still come in the door like he’s going to be there, but, well, you know……he’s not.                           CAM00145

I miss the hell out of you Rocky.  Rest in peace little boy.

Me and my Boy!

Me and my Boy!

My Son

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My son is an amazing human being.  He has been my rock throughout this whole starting over process and I would give him the credit for helping me get back on track and not fall further into the abyss.

My sweet two year old

My sweet two year old

He was born almost 34 years ago and was a beautiful, loving little boy.  I have always felt blessed that he is my son and we went through very little of those “bad” stages as he grew.  No terrible two’s, no mouthy teen!  Of course, he had his moments but mostly was a joy.  He and I were very close as his dad always worked long hours, leaving the two of us together all of the time.

When he was very young, he developed a passion for sports, starting with a baseball card collection, playing his first basketball at the Y, Little League Baseball, high school basketball and then college basketball.  He was a tall boy, athletic, and natural on the court and field, who dreamed of playing for the NBA.  We tried to keep him grounded in reality, but at the same time, encourage him to follow his dream.  He had many noteworthy moments in sports and his proud mom kept all of the newspaper clippings.  His grandfather was a coach, phys. ed. teacher, and Athletic Director and was thrilled to see the success that my son had, generating a bond between them that was wonderful to see.  His dad and I went to every game and sports became our social life.  It gave us a chance to meet new people, travel, and spend hours together as a family. We had a lot of fun and many wonderful, close moments, and totally enjoyed this time.

Just so you don’t think that my son breezed through life and fulfilled his dream, there’s more you need to know.  When he was about 14, he went through a growth spurt.  During that time, he always carried a heavy backpack full of books, usually on one shoulder as we later found out.  And over time, his body shifted and he developed scoliosis which necessitated his wearing a brace for 23 hours a day.  It was under his clothes but you could tell that he was wearing it, a devastating experience for a teen.  It straightened him from armpit to butt, made of stiff, heavy plastic, with indentations in the areas that had to push his body back in alignment.   I used to cry at his distress but he faithfully wore that thing for a very long time.  He still has it, a symbol of winning over adversity, and he managed to straighten out his back without surgery.  I have to also give credit to his school mates because no one picked on him and his teammates were supportive, which I’m sure helped him comply.

Teen

Teen

Fast forward to college and at the end of the school year, he was involved in a situation  which was life-threatening, traumatic, and life changing.  We had to make him come home and deal with post traumatic stress disorder and he lost his chance to start as Point Guard in his last year of junior college.  He would most likely have gotten a Division 1 scholarship to finish his BA, as this school produced a team that all went D-1, but his mental health had to be a priority.  The result was that he met a wonderful therapist but lost the chance at his dream.  There just wasn’t time and resources at the local college and while he continued to play, it did not give him the same opportunities.

So, basketball, playing overseas, his dream-gone.  I worried about him all the time because he just couldn’t find another dream to replace that one.  He worked, went to class, met a girl, but what would come next?  What did he want to do with his life?

B & Sabrina

B & Sabrina

I’m happy to say that my son has finally “found his future”, which coincidentally is the name of the book that he wrote and is getting ready to self publish.  He has come to believe that the things he went through directed him down this new path to become the man he was meant to be.  He is passionate about life, about helping people, and works in two non-profits while working to create his own programs and ideas.  He is positive and believes in the law of attraction, attracting good things to himself.  He is a wonderful father to my beautiful  grandson and mate to my daughter-in-law.  And he is a son who has worked hard to understand his father’s issues and still maintain a relationship with him and who saved his mother from a depression that had me sitting in a chair, not eating, not working, not doing anything for three months.  He wouldn’t let me keep crying and mourning.  He made me get out of that chair and start to live again.  And he moved in with me to help me save my home and keep a roof over my head.  He’s the reason I  started this blog and the reason that I have happiness back in my life.

I love you, Baby Boy!

My son and grandson

My son and grandson

Another Journey

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I’m sitting in a dressing room waiting for my second mammogram films to be read, dressed in a hospital gown with my clothes in a pile on the bench.  This is the second one since April because they found calcification in both breasts.   As I sit waiting to hear the results, I alternate between fighting tears, visualizing healthy breasts, and praying.  It’s the longest hour of my life, waiting to hear my fate, and I’m almost in tears as I write, just thinking back to that day.  Do I need further tests, ultrasound, a biopsy?  Is it cancer?  I’ve always felt that since there’s no family history of breast cancer, I was somewhat safe.  Foolish thoughts, I guess.

The technician has been very kind and helpful, explaining everything and answering my questions.  It helps keep me calm.  And did you know that the trick of looking up to the side really does stop tears from dropping?  I don’t want to cry because I fear that I won’t stop and will be a blubbering mess very quickly.

Here she is-I have to have ultrasound of nodules.  Thought they weren’t a concern.  Damn.

The above passage was written a few months ago, back when this journey began so let me backtrack a bit and fill in the blanks.  But first let me say “Ladies, please get a yearly mammogram!” In 2008, I had my last mammogram for several years.  Before that, I faithfully went once a year, no problems.  But since then, all the life changes and issues somehow got in the way and I missed going for several years.  It flew by in terms of mammograms and I actually thought it was only a couple of years.  So in April, 2014, I finally had one done.  They requested my old films to compare and I blithely trotted over to pick them up, confident, never realizing what was ahead.  Yup, changes that were an indication of “something” so after a few mammograms, an ultrasound was scheduled, then unscheduled, and then I was told that I had to get this new 3-D imaging done instead.  And here’s where it got a little crazy.

The Nurse Practitioner that I was seeing sort of dropped the ball.  She felt that too many of these were being ordered and not really necessary, just the latest fad, so to speak.  At the same time, I started a new ”job from hell” full time, and had limited time to make phone calls.  I followed up with her from work, as best as I could, but when she didn’t schedule it, finally heard again from radiology, telling me to come in.  She never did schedule the 3-D imaging so when I arrived at radiology, they actually had the specialist there that day who showed them new forms of mammogram torture so that they could get the images that were needed.  My right breast was rolled, pulled, tucked, smashed, squished, ….You get the picture!  And yes, there was calcification that needed to be checked further.  Nodules were no longer an issue.  And this time I cried.  I needed a biopsy.

Oh my God. Breast cancer!!  No.  God, please no.  Damn, tears while I’m writing again.  So I went outside, got into the car, and prayed, and cried some more.  And then I got my head back together and drove home and went in to work.  And waited for the appointment.  What I got was an appointment at the Delaware VA Hospital for them to check what the Philadelphia VA Hospital found.  Time has become my enemy because now almost 6 months have gone by.  So I went to Delaware, was checked and it was confirmed, biopsy.  I expressed my urgency to the surgeon after he told me it would take several weeks for the appointment and by the next week, I was in.  Thank you doctor!

I only told one person about this, my best friend since college, Kathy.  Someone had to know and I didn’t want it to be my son because I’m a mom and he’s my baby.  He shouldn’t have to carry that around in his head.  Anyway, I went alone to Delaware, Christiana Women’s Breast Center, and had the biopsy.  What an experience that was.  You lie on your stomach with your breast through a hole and they work from below.  Glad I didn’t have a view of that!  They numb you with a needle, which didn’t hurt much, and then when numb, kind of drill out tissue.  Then they wrap your breasts to prevent bruising and tell you to keep the wrap on for three days.  Ick.  No shower, don’t remove it!!  I managed to hide this all from my son, daughter-in-law, and the baby, and finally took it off on the third day.  I wore my loosest tops because DD’s in no bra is not a pretty sight at age 65!

And then waited.  I was told if it was cancer, they would remove breast tissue and underarm lymph nodes.  Much more than I bargained for, but it would probably get it all so deal with it!  I prayed, continued to work, and still told no one.  On my day off, three days later, I was home with my son and got the call.  It was negative!!!!!!!!!!  Thank you God!!  I had to tell my son at that point because I finally gave myself permission to fall apart.  And I did.  Of course, crying again while I write.  But he took it in stride and was supportive, as usual.  6 months of torture, waiting to hear.  I guess it helped that I have a “job from hell”, but that’s a story for another time.

Anyway, my next mammogram is in 6 months and you can bet your butt that I’m going to get that one done as well as every year from now on.  I am thankful that I made it through this in good health and just want to move forward now.

Apologies to my sister, brother, and sister-in-law for not telling but I didn’t want anyone to worry unless there was a real reason.  If it was positive, believe me, you would have known pretty darn quick!

So, I move forward, continuing the journey of recovery from my husband’s betrayal, continuing to grow, being happy, enjoying my beautiful grandson, my family, and friends.  Thank you God, for your blessings. My prayers go to all of you who have gone through this, will go through this, or have lost someone to this.  Thank you to Kathy for being there for me and checking on me.  Dee, Deb, and Joe, I know you would have done the same.

Breast cancer is a horrible disease, filling the breasts that have nurtured children, filling the breasts that we were so proud of when we got our first “training” bra, and filling the breasts that are so much a part of who we are.  But, when faced with this, my first thought was “cut that cancer out of me”. I don’t need to be defined by having breasts.  Rather I will be defined by my heart and soul, my strength and love, my family and friends, and my life.

Love.

Shelley

I’m a Writer!

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photo “Write” by Sara Reid

Who would have thought  that I would be a writer?  Certainly not me.  My  essays and term papers were usually well written, but I never did  any other type of writing. (Note:  I credit Ms. Ester Benz, High School English, for instilling good writing habits in me and many others.)

Anyway, a few years ago, I was sitting in Bogart’s Books in Millville, NJ, knitting with a group called Ripping Yarns, when one of the women mentioned that she was going to be writing for Examiner.com.  She was talking about what she was doing to get started and a tiny seed sprouted in my brain.  She was already a writer, a ghost writer with a blog, but I was a total newbie, never having  written a journal or anything.  But this idea stuck in my head and wouldn’t leave.  So I asked if I could do it too and was given all of the assistance that I needed to get started and accepted, and was made the Child Development writer for the Atlantic City area.  I was so excited!

Each article that was written had to be researched, written and re-written before I would publish it, and pictures had to be found.  It took me hours but I loved it.  It didn’t pay much but that was OK.  People were actually reading my articles!  This was going on during my marriage separation and it was also one of the things that I did for the “new me”.  It gave me a lot of satisfaction and I made sure that my ex knew that I was moving on and doing new things (petty, right?  Ha Ha)  I shared my articles on Twitter and Facebook and promoted every article.  I also shared  them on Pinterest and often see my articles repinned, some at least a year after they were written.

So now it’s two years later and I’m also the Frugal Living and Sewing Examiner writer.  I had one article featured on the lead page and have gone from about 1000 views the first year to about 1000 in the first four months of this year.

So, with this under my belt, I let my son convince me to write the blog. (He’s my greatest supporter!)  He helped me get started, proofreading and encouraging, and urging me on.  Thank you BJ!  I’ve also been encouraged by my blog readers and prize your comments on the blog and Facebook.  You are my peers, many of you people who “knew me when”, and I’m thrilled that my blog has touched you in any way.

So what’s next?  Twice I’ve started a book about my experiences but so far, haven’t found the right way to share this.  Again, I’ve received a lot of encouragement and I believe that one day, all will click into place and I’ll write that book.  I will definitely keep you posted.

OMG!  I’M A WRITER!!(Happy dance!)

 

Goodbye to My Husband

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While sitting here thinking, reminiscing about the past, the thought comes into my head that I need to say goodbye to my husband. We have been living apart for a year now, though separated for several years before that, me not moving out because of expense and him not moving, I guess, because he wanted me to. But anyway, we stayed in the home and he did what he wanted while I tried to show him that we were worth a second chance while also trying to find a job and accumulate as much money as I could. Our history goes back 40 years; who would have thought we would end up apart? So here’s the story.

I first met him at about age 21 while at my girlfriend’s house. Her husband brought him home for dinner and I happened to be there. It was “something” at first sight, not sure what, but he had just broken up with someone and had a baby so I wouldn’t get involved even though he chased the hell out of me until we finally went our separate ways. Several years later, about age 28, that same husband of the same girlfriend ran into him and brought him home to surprise me. It was a shock but it also was immediately like cupid’s arrow had hit me in the heart. All of the old feelings rushed back; he was alone and I was alone and within a few days, he proposed and moved into my apartment.

The first year was wonderful. We set the date for our wedding and spent every hour together that we could. He had a business and a lot of my off-work time was spent there, bringing hot meals and hanging out, keeping him company after hours. It was wonderful. And then I got pregnant. Unexpected, unplanned, but we were happy about it and moved up our wedding date. However, little cracks began to form between us. I worked full time in retail, on my feet all day, tired all the time, a little crabby, things not quite right between us, but still good. We thought it was the stress, the baby, the wedding, too much work, etc.

So, we married one weekend and then went right back to work, no honeymoon, saving money for baby, who was born right before Christmas. A beautiful, healthy baby boy. My husband was so proud. He had a son. But he was also a truck driver. So the first year of marriage, the first year of parenthood, he was away a lot, and I was too nervous as a new mother to go in the truck with him and we started to grow apart. And little by little, we grew further apart. I developed horrible PMS, he was diagnosed with PTSD (Viet Nam Veteran and a Marine) and chasms began opening up. A lot of detail isn’t necessary here but suffice it to say, we argued a lot. Being a Marine was a part of who my husband was, and is, and I didn’t have a clue what that meant so that made the struggles even harder. There is a lot of personal information that I will not write about but history plays a huge role here and understanding came too late.

So, I met him when I was about 21 and now I’m 64. I often think that getting together the first time we met would have given us more time to become better friends, to grow together, to learn each other, and to have a better chance of making it, but it wasn’t to be. And a few years ago, he told me that he didn’t want to be married anymore, he still loves me, but he isn’t good at relationships, etc., etc. And, of course there was another woman encouraging him to do what will make him happy, why stay when he isn’t happy, etc., etc. You know. So a little over a year ago, he moved out while I was in the hospital and here we are. Since my son and his family live with me, I see my husband regularly and it has taken me a long time to be able to deal with that. But guess what?

I now realize that I am better off without him, should have left one of the many times I thought about it, and am finally much happier than I was for a long time. It was very wearing to always be trying to prove I was a good wife, to always be putting him first, to always champion his causes, to try to understand what was going on, and to deal with a marriage that was not how I wanted it but feeling powerless to change it. I feel free; I feel happy. And when I see him now, I still think he looks good but I’ve worked very hard to not care and to not long for him. I even got a tattoo to symbolize my broken heart, thinking that the pain of the needle would somehow lessen my heart pain, but of course, it didn’t. Sure, I still have sad moments, like today which is why I’m writing this, but also I can be happy without him. Now he is the other woman’s problem and just maybe she is a better fit for him. He wore me out and I’m glad to be done.

My spirit is lighter and I have come to realize just how much that marriage dragged me down and influenced choices I made. It feels good to do what I want, when I want, and not be responsible for taking care of someone else. Would I like another relationship? Maybe. But it would have to be really special before I would invite that person all the way into my life again. For now, sleeping alone in my own bed is fine, with just Rocky for company and my little family in the other rooms.

Yup, I’m happy. Hard earned but true. Goodbye Bill.

Lessons Learned

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I just poured a cup of tea and I’m ready to talk about things that I’ve learned in life.  Are you ready?

As I struggle to put my life back together after the recent separation, surgery, and job loss, I think back to my life as a girl reaching womanhood in the 60’s and realize how unprepared for anything that I was.

I grew up in a small town in north Jersey and had two loving parents and a good life.  We were financially comfortable and I never lacked for anything, though if you are my age you know that our needs were much simpler and less expensive back then.  I had a typical childhood with plenty of outdoor play, minimal television, and a set of rules that I followed without too much question.  I always knew that I wanted to be a teacher and being one of the oldest girls in our neighborhood play, took the role of teacher, mother, leader, etc. in our games.  I was also the first-born in our family and the “responsible” one.  I knew I would go to college and become a teacher and time spent in high school was geared towards achieving that and getting accepted by my choice school, which I did, in NJ and Texas.  I was not a risk-taking child plus NJ was cheaper so Texas was out and Glassboro (Rowan) State College was my choice, far enough from home to be “on my own” but close enough to visit monthly.  College life was very different then, with dorm curfew, single-sex dorms, no males allowed in rooms upstairs, and no cars for freshmen.

Are you starting to see a pattern here>  Sheltered upbringing to sheltered college life.  Still, I tried to explore and learn new things and managed to do much more in college then my parents were aware of.  But much of it was done on foot and with little money.  During the summers, I worked and deposited the money for the school year spending-money, receiving $5 a week for my pocket and $5 a week for food.  All my expenses were paid by my parents and I got new clothes at the start of the school year, so what did I need money for?  Right?  And for us, spring break simply meant that you went home for  a week.

During those years, my goal was to become a teacher but my “REAL” goal was to be married.  And if I keep it real, I’m not sure the goal was even to be a wife, just to be married. 

So here is where I can tell you about my lessons learned.  In looking back, I remember that I started having boyfriends at a young age, before 7th grade, and of course, back then that was all very innocent.  But I was always “attached” to a boy, receiving friendship rings, high school rings, or some token of belonging.  I never explored who was Shelley Williams, just Shelley, not Shelley and _______!  I went to college expecting to meet my future husband, marry,  teach for a few years, and then stay home with the kids.  And that was the extent of my plan.  Wow!.   Incidentally, I dated my high school sweet heart for 4 years and thought he would be the husband, whatever that meant at that time!

So, first lesson learned was that I put all of my eggs in that “married” basket and didn’t ‘t explore life.  I should have fought for the chance to go to college in Texas and explored more of life rather than the likely husband candidates in NJ.  I should have used my college years to find out more about me and what I wanted instead of just going along with the “plan”.  And because no one ever said to me “what will you do if you don’t get a teaching job?”, I had no fall-back plan.

Now, to be fair to myself, I was able to switch gears and form a plan and actually have successfully reinvented myself quite a few times, but I think I just settled.  I followed a man to south Jersey, to the poorest county in the state, and stayed here because of another man, the one I married 30 years ago and am now  recently separated from.  We actually escaped to Baltimore County for a year and a half but came back because he wasn’t happy in that north Jersey-like environment.  I was!  And, I dropped out of  nursing school to go with him and gave up an offer of a full time Parochial School teaching job to come back.  And did it willingly.  Do you see where I’m going with all of this?

Again, to be fair to myself, I have learned in my jobs that I have strong leadership qualities, rising to positions of authority in just about every one but how much more could I have achieved elsewhere?  Where there is more opportunity for growth and culture, less fast food and retail jobs, room to spread wings! (By the way, I’m not knocking South Jersey, but Cumberland County IS the poorest county in the state.)

So, now I’m about to turn 65, am starting over, have little money, and have a messed up body.  What have I learned?  Follow a dream for yourself.  Don’t always put someone else first.  Believe in yourself.  Think towards your own future and be in control of it.  Don’t depend on someone else for your happiness or to take care of your life but rather work alongside of them while taking care of your own.  Have a dream and make it happen.  So many things I’ve learned.  Too late?  Nope!!  I’ve also learned that I am a strong woman and I’m not about to give up now. 

More Beach Memories!

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As I’ve mentioned, I love the beach!  As a kid, we always vacationed there, at Point Pleasant, Seaside Heights, Bay Head, Beach Haven West, and I have great memories of family times.

Mom, Dad, and Me!

Mom, Dad, and Me!

My dad was a teacher so he was off in the summer, which meant that he always got a summer job.  When we were very young, my parents would rent a house at the shore for 2 weeks and he would come down on the weekends while we would spend our two weeks on the beach.  My mom was a bathing beauty in her day and she loved the beach as much as we did.  I still remember the scent of Sea and Ski Suntan Lotion and can picture the old beach blanket we would play, eat, and nap on.  We’d go for the whole day, lugging all the beach stuff as we walked, pushing my brother in the stroller.  It was great.

Beach fun!

Beach fun!

One summer we rented a house with my aunt and cousins and my uncle and dad did the weekend commuting.  We, of course, all went to the beach.  There was always a pot of gravy on the stove and my aunt would feed anyone and everyone who stopped in.  Aunt Rose.  She would pay me a dollar to tease and spray her hair and I always gave her a nice little pouf up front.  I helped her recover from the beach winds with those “do’s”!  We had other family staying in the area at the same time and I loved being around everyone.  We would line up our beach stuff, unwrap the enamel pots of “macs”, and have a beach feast.  There was always lots of pasta on those vacations.  Yum.  And of course, sausage and meatballs.  The boardwalk!  Some of  my relatives were constantly winning on the wheels and brought home appliances galore!  We loved putting our nickels down and trying to win stuffed animals.  Of course, the grownups were always luckier but we kids would get to roam in a pack and as long as we stayed together, we were safe and had the run of the boardwalk.  The oldest cousin would be in charge and sort of kept us in line.

Me and Mom

Me and Mom

When I became a teen, my dad got a job bartending on Long Beach Island and we got to spend the summer there.  The first year, we rented a house on the Island but when we went to visit friends in Beach Haven West, there was a little house for sale, for $7000, on a lagoon with a dock and bulkhead.  Heaven!.  My parents scraped up the $1000 down payment and bought it.  It was tiny, 3 small bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen living room combo, roofed patio.  But we could swim and fish/crab off the dock, and after my dad bought his first boat, cruise out to Barnegat Bay.  Life was good.  My family spent every summer there as one by one, we went to college and then moved away, but my parents retired there and added on to that little house, and we continued to make memories as we married and had children.

Beach Haven West was a good, somewhat central location for us to visit so it became the hub for the family Christmas, and as many other visits as we could cram in.  The first Christmas that all of the kids were born, the living room was a sea of wrapping paper!  But we all loved it there and our kids grew up loving it there too, going to the Island with Grandpa for the rides, trips to the Lucy Evelyn, the shops and restaurants, and the beach.  I saw my first sunrise Easter mass on the beach in Ship Bottom and it was beautiful.beach

I live about an hour away and my parents are gone now, so we no longer go to Beach Haven West but it’s in all of our hearts.  When we travel north, we sometimes get off at exit 63 onto route 72 and drive down the street where the house is, seeing the same overgrown bushes, the added on second floor and porch, the familiar street, Linda Road, and of course, the memories.

But, I also live close to new beaches.  Cape May, Atlantic City, Ocean City, Wildwood, all are pretty close by.  And so is the Delaware River and I have discovered small beaches within a short drive from my home.  Now I can go to Fortescue, East Point Lighthouse,  and the Cape May Ferry, and get that beach “fix” that I need.  Many a morning, I’ve driven to Fortescue with a chair and a book, and of course, my tea, and sat on that beach by myself, just drinking in the view.  It’s not the same as the Atlantic Ocean but it’s unique and beautiful too.  I’ve discovered horseshoe crabs and sea glass and always find driftwood, and think about bringing a fishing pole some time, and making new memories.

East Point

East Point

Yes, I love the beach.  SAMSUNG