Tag Archives: life

Happy 2017!


Happy New Year! I know it’s been a while since I’ve written anything so I want to start off the new year in a positive way and get on top of all of the things that I’ve been letting go, writing being at the top of my slacker list. So make your tea, get comfy in the recliner, and let’s talk. It’s rainy and dreary, but I’m off from work so of course I’m in a good mood. I’ve realized that I’m really tired of the 9-5 grind, after about 50 years of doing it, and would love to retire, but my pocketbook says NO! So that’s my first topic to discuss.

Way back, when I sort of planned my life, this time of life seemed so far away. I’m sad to say I didn’t give it much thought as day to day life and survival took precedent. I worked towards better and better positions, more and more money, and finally achieved what I thought would be the ultimate goal, Assistant Director of Head Start, a program that served 3 counties, with more than 1000 children in our child care centers. I supervised staff, traveled around, and actually really liked what I was doing.  However, after being there for around 6 years, some restructuring occurred and I ended up out the door. I found another position, at 20,000 less a year, still at a good salary, but during that time my hip was getting worse and worse, and after 2 years, I needed surgery and for a variety of reasons, left the position. Since I live in South Jersey, positions that pay that well are not hugely plentiful and after recovering from the surgery, I struggled to find a good job. The end result is that any retirement money saved needed to be used for survival, and had to be cashed in. Of course, this was also the time of separation and divorce, and I know I’ve written about those struggles so I won’t bore you with all of that again, but here I am at 67, still getting up at 5AM, driving an hour each way, sitting in an office each day bored, and trapped. I’m driving 2000 miles a month, and now that great old NJ has the new gas tax it cost $25 yesterday to fill the tank and I have to fill it every 2 days to get to work. So I’m pretty much working for peanuts now and don’t see much way out at this point.

So this leads to my next thing on the slacker list.  I have quite a few ideas for small businesses I could start from home, some good and doable, some not, but my mind is always working and coming up with ideas.  Am I doing anything with this, to help my work woes?  Well, no.  By the time I drive home, highway all the way, in the dark with my old lady eyesight, stressful high speed driving since I can’t just do 65 because I want to get home, I’ve been gone for about 12 hours and I’m drained. And did I mention that I leave in the dark at 6:30 AM and work in an office with no windows? So I come home and sit in the chair, on FB or Pinterest, or playing with my grandson, or reading, maybe warming up something for dinner, and then all I want to do is go to bed.  So nothing is happening but the same, every day.  It’s so tiring.  I’m trying to put my nose to the grindstone and DO SOMETHING, but I haven’t been able to maintain it.

Now, this post is not for your pity. I’ve come a long way, with pitfalls I haven’t even mentioned, and won’t, but I know the clock is ticking and I have to break free of this rut.  My income has improved since the divorce and I’m doing repairs on the home that I managed to hold on to, I have new friends that I socialize with, and I’m proud of my progress and love that I’m not a quitter.  But I’m so sick of working like this.  Getting up at 5 is no joke!  And I’m bored with my job but it pays ok and I can’t do anything physical so in this area, it’s somewhat limited to look for something else as this is a big fast-food/retail jobs area. So that means I have to create something like I did before (I taught chair exercise to seniors in nursing homes) but the planning means getting out of my rut and doing something.

This blog post is the first day of changing the rut.  I’ve signed up for an email tutorial on free lance writing to expand my writing possibilities, I’ve looked into courses I can take on Udemy, and am looking into getting my Master’s in Psychology, to work as a therapist instead of Behavior Assistant, though since the election I don’t feel very positive about taking on that debt at this time of life. I have a few other things I’m considering too, all dependent on breaking the rut, with the point being that a person is never too old to start over, start something new, and reinvent themselves. I’ve gone through 4 major reinventions, just in my professional life, and have also had to do it in my personal life.  If I can do it, so can you.  If you follow my blog and are floating in the same boat that I’m in, perhaps reading about my struggles and determination to overcome will assist you in your journey. Or perhaps not.  I know I’ve made mistakes in my life plan and have so much to give to a do-over, but since that isn’t going to happen, I’ll just keep plugging away.  I don’t feel “old” and if it wasn’t for arthritis, feel healthy and whole, so I’m blessed in that regard. Some of my choices are somewhat limited but working around them the best that I can is OK.

My goal is to write a post once a month.  I have several posts started from previous months that never got completed so that gives me a head start.  I want to start back with some sort of craft, and I’m going to follow through with what I mentioned above.  I’ll keep you posted on my progress, and won’t say “or lack of progress” so as to stay positive.

One last thing: for Christmas, I finally had my dad’s old home movies converted to DVD’s and many of my grade school and high school friends, old boyfriends(you know who you are!), etc. are featured in those films.(Remember marching in white boots and green uniforms?) There are a lot of family Christmas celebrations, family vacations, and faces of loved ones. Watching was so moving and somewhat sad to see all who have passed on, but I loved it too.  Some of you who have reconnected through Facebook are in those movies and it was wonderful to realize that we still have a connection. So thank you for being in my life.

My teacup is empty, and the next project calls.  Have a lot to do with this day off!

Happy New Year to everyone!  Stay safe and healthy, keep growing, loving, and being you. Until next month!



My Roanoke, Va. Adventure



VA 6

The view!

Recently, I had an opportunity to travel to Virginia for a few days, traveling with my sister and new brother-in-law. My brother lives in Roanoke, Va. so it’s a long ride through some beautiful country.

The ride down was uneventful other than a few GPS induced side trips and I got to relax in the back seat with my pillow and some books, and had a brief nap. As we got closer, the mountains got higher and the grass greener, our trip taking us past battlefields of long ago, stone houses that have withstood the test of time, and many farms.  Roanoke looks huge to this south Jersey girl, a bustling city surrounded by mountains.  It has a unique downtown filled with quaint shops, historical buildings, museums, and modern facilities of all types. We arrived late Thursday, had a great Italian dinner cooked by my brother, and then early to bed.  Friday, the “girls” went to lunch at the Second Helping Café, sponsored by the Rescue Mission.  They had a diverse menu, very tasty, and great desserts.  We were joined by my sister-in-law’s sister and their mother, a true “southern belle”.  It was so nice to see them again and I consider them family as well. We ate, wandered through the attached gallery and thrift store and then, after parting, went on a car tour of Roanoke.  So many southern homes are built with red brick, some so gorgeous and interesting that I would love to own them all!  We continued on until we ended up at Black Dog Salvage, the site of the popular TV show, “Salvage Dogs”.  If you love old doors and windows, vintage anything, iron work, and repurposed-from-junk furniture, this is the place for you!  OMG!! I could have spent days there.  What beautiful stained glass! And the furniture! Such wonderful creations like a claw foot bathtub love seat, tables made from beautiful old doors, farm equipment turned into lamps….I could go on and on but you get the idea.  It’s definitely worth the trip.  They have a website and FB page if you’re interested.

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So day 2 arrives and we are off to Rockbridge Winery in Raphine, VA, for wine tasting and a picnic, though it’s pretty chilly! My niece will be meeting us there and it’s a beautiful sunny day for this excursion.  We’re piling into the car now so I’ll get back to you later……

VA 2

Its several hours later and we’re pigging out on Chinese food. We had a wonderful day starting at the winery with the tasting and then our picnic. My niece met us there and she and I were in perfect agreement on what tasted good!  We picnicked inside, delicious, and then it was off to Wades Mill where they grind their own flour, which of course we all purchased.  Next stop was Orchard Side Yarn Shop which had some beautiful fibers.  The setting was perfect, alongside a quick-moving stream, blue skies, fields of the brightest green, hills, flowers.  So peaceful.  Violets were blooming, willow branches were waving in the breeze…..ahh.  Serenity.

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Of course, we all hated to get back to reality but Sunday morning, bright and early, we piled into the car and started home. Again in the back seat, I had my camera out as long as there were mountains to view.  We came home through the Shenandoah Valley, just beautiful.  Looking down into the valley was awe-inspiring and you can just tell that a supreme being had to have created this land.  My pictures just don’t do it justice; you have to see for yourself.

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The trip totally refreshed me. I slept well, ate good, and got a lot of exercise, something a person with a desk job desperately needs.  It was good for my mental health, most of all.  Getting away from work even for a short time does wonders for me.  And, as I get older I appreciate things in a different way.  My family has grown smaller with the loss of my parents, aunts and uncles, and grandparents.  There aren’t many of us left but now our future is in our children, and their children.  It was so good to see my brother, sis-in-law, and niece.  And to spend time with my sister and new brother-in-law, who drove us down and stopped at the bathroom as many times as we needed!  And drove good enough that I could close my eyes for a nap!  LOL.  So thank you to my family!

I’ll close with love to my family. Already looking forward to Christmas when we can all get together again.

Much love, Your Sister,



The Men in My Life


us 3It’s been a little while since I’ve written so I thought I would tell you about the men in my life.  Comfy?  Ok.  Me too, cuddled up in my afghan and with a steaming cup of tea.

When my husband and I separated, I was around age 60 and one of the things I thought about was would I ever find love again? I felt old, used up, unattractive, and just lost without my partner.  Of course, since then I’ve realized he wasn’t really the partner I thought he was, and while we had many good and loving moments, raised a son together, and have gone through a lot as a couple, growing old together wouldn’t have been how I envisioned it because we weren’t best friends.

So fast forward to now. No men in my life expect two-my son and my grandson.  My son and I don’t see a lot of each other.  We’re both busy with our own thing but as I’ve written before, he was my rock throughout the separation and divorce and sharing the house with him gives us each our own space and just enough together time that we don’t drive each other crazy.  It’s nice to have someone to talk to, someone to bounce ideas off of, and his presence makes the house “alive.”

And then there’s my grandson. He’s a beautiful boy, bright, active, a handful at times, but a good boy.  He’s 3 ½ and his teacher says that he knows all the sounds of letters and could be reading soon.  (Can you say proud grandma?)  We read all the time but his favorite thing is for me to make up stories.  He climbs up on the couch next to MeMa’s seat, cuddles up, and tells me what the story should be about.  When I first started doing this, I would try to get him to chime in but he wouldn’t.  But now he’s director and script writer and if I say the wrong thing I hear “MeMa, I’m very angry.  You aren’t listening.”  Most of the stories feature whatever toys he’s interested in such as his bison but now he’s interested in Super heroes as well.  This boy loves stories and can sit through a dozen if I have enough brain power to think of that many!  I love him beyond my imaginings.  Having a grandchild is such a different experience than being a parent.  And he and I have a special bond.  I try to keep my common sense in the forefront but all it takes is “MeMa, I’m so excited to see you.  I missed you”, and I melt.

me n adio

So these two are my “men.” And I’m very happy with the trade.  I never realized how much “work” my husband was.  It’s so nice to not have to cook if I don’t want to, do laundry whenever I feel like it, grocery shop only once in a while…my time is my own.  I can eat in bed, stay up all night, or go to bed at 8.  If I snore, no problem.  If I want the fan on, no problem, blankets off, blankets on, etc.  You get the idea. (I’m sleeping better too)  I did so many things for him, out of love and a desire to be a good wife, that I stifled “me”.  So along with sleeping better, going wherever I want, whenever I want to, my mind is freer and I feel more creative.

Please understand that I put myself in that type of wife “box” but of course, he liked it and didn’t protest. And because of that, I started becoming resentful and allowed myself to be taken for granted, something that I was only able to realize after the separation.  It actually brought me to quite a few realizations that had I done that soul searching sooner, I might have asked him to leave years ago or maybe things would have improved.  Who knows?.  He doesn’t get a pass but I did everything based on my vision of a wife.  Child care-all me.  Housework-all me.  Work full time, me.  When the hell did I sleep?  He worked long hours too but there was never any notice of how tired I might be and no helping hand offered.  Home was my job and I did my best to keep up.  He should have married Donna Reed!  OK.  Rant done.  But my point is that I’m so much happier without all of that burden.

So do I want to marry again? Right now, I think “no”.  For a few reasons.  First, after 30 years of marriage-done-wrong, I’m not sure how to do it right.  Second, I’m loving the freedom.  Third, there’s a tiny corner of my heart that still mourns and so far, that’s not going away or lessening, making no room for someone new. It’s not that I miss him, just that maybe he was “the one and only”.  I’ve always heard that some people only love one person.  Is that me?  Not sure.  I invested every fiber of my being in that marriage and maybe there’s nothing left.  I’m happily expanding my girlfriend time, eating out, going places.  I would like to add travel to that picture but so far work intrudes on that plan, but maybe in the near future.  If my health was better I’d go by myself and may do some exploring alone anyway.  You know, those senior bus trips!  But I guess time will tell.

It’s been nice sharing this time with you but I need to be out and about, running errands, meeting friends for coffee, and just enjoying freedom.  We’ll talk again soon.


Things Are Looking Up!

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


Another Journey


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.



Lessons Learned



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. 

My Dad

Me and Dad!

Me and Dad!

My Dad died in 1998.  He was a special man and I loved him dearly.  At the time of his death, he had just been in the hospital for bypass surgery and came through it well.  He was sitting up in recovery, asking for a sandwich, and if you knew my dad, you would know that it was so typical of him.  He loved to eat.  He did so well that they told me to go home and get a change of clothes, eat, and then come back for visiting hours but when I walked in the door the phone was ringing and he was dead.  He had a heart attack and from what I remember, his heart just exploded because the walls were very thin from a medication he had to take for myasthenia gravis.  He looked so good when I left so this was totally shocking to hear.  He had a military burial, WWII veteran, and we all tried to move forward with our grief.  I always thought Dad was the soul of the family and it was so hard without him. IMG_5698

My dad had many things that I loved about him, one being that whenever I would visit we would go look through his top drawer where he had cards we kids had made him, little mementos, pictures, just stuff that he saved.  We would look through the pictures and he would talk about the people in them and the old days.  I loved those times together.  When we kids had kids, he started adding their notes and things to the drawer so it was quite full and it would always take a bit of time to go through.  When my son was old enough, he started showing him the things in the drawer and it became a special time for them too.

My Dad grew up in Newark, NJ and lived across the street from my mom.  They didn’t have much to do with each other when they were young but after he came out of the service, there she was!  He always told us that he picked her out of all the girls because she could peel an orange so well, and she could!  He was an Italian American and she was of English/German descent.  They married in 1947 and were married for 50 years when he died.

At the time of his death, he had a special Christmas Cactus that he had potted in a big old bowl, I guess it was for plants but he would have loved to see it filled with pasta.  Anyway, I asked my mom if I could have it and brought it home.  I sort of felt that it represented him and I hung it from a hook in a macramé planter that I had made, hoping that I could keep it alive.  I was afraid to overwater it so was sparse with the attention I gave it, almost like I would jinx it if I did too much.

It’s now 2014 and that plant did not get flowers in all that time but this past Christmas, it did!  Two flowers.  I don’t know what made it bloom because I’ve been doing my usual with it, just watering it every two weeks or so, afraid that I might kill it.  And now it’s February and it’s getting more flowers.  I can’t figure it out but when I saw those flowers, I started to cry.  I think it’s a sign from my Dad, anyway, I want to believe that it is. In any case, I’m going to see it as a sign to not give up, that things will get better, that my Dad still is there loving me, and that my life will bloom again. IMG_5692

I love you Dad.