Paul’s journey, part 8

When you decide to take the first step, you never know where it will lead you.

Paul had a dream. He was at a dead end job. He used up his vacation time to cut back his hours at his job so he could start a business on the side. He worked after work. He rented a small office nearby so he could work over his lunch hour.

Eventually Paul ran out of vacation days. They gave him an ultimatum. Either you come back full time or you leave. Sink or swim Paul.

For awhile, he stood at the edge of the precipice. What am I going to do? Should I start climbing even though I can’t see anything at the top? What if I fall? What if I fall further than I am right now? What if I fail? How will I provide for my family?

“Should I climb?”, he asked. Climb, I said.

Taking that first step on his own was the scariest. It was risky. There was a mortgage to pay and little mouths to feed. We were already living on one income.

Paul immersed himself into building a start up business. He was working towards a Master’s degree in his field of study. He took a couple of sales training classes. He knocked on many doors.

Over the years, he attained every accreditation, certification, license, and joined every industry association that he could. He started working on his MBA one class at a time while running his business. He oftentimes would start his day at 5AM doing homework before work. Then he worked until the work was done. He earned his MBA. He still grabbed at every opportunity to learn more. He worked hard and became an expert in our state.

It wasn’t something that happened overnight. It took decades and years of climbing not knowing what was at the top. When the recession hit, he thought he was going to lose his footing. He managed to hang on.

Over time, Paul got used to and became very good at climbing. He is always looking ahead, always striving for that next goal. Sometimes I wish he would take a glimpse back to see how far he climbed.

All it took was being brave enough to take that first step.

Another nightmare…

Last night I had another nightmare…

I dreamed that I was pregnant.

As a woman in my 40’s (AND the mother of 3 teenagers!!!!!!!), that is my worst nightmare.

My 13 year old daughter is currently going through a rebellious stage. She currently hates me. Yesterday she mentioned that she likes her brother more than me. Trust me, that is bad! Seriously, what did I do?? That’s right! I breathe. I’m annoying. I wouldn’t understand.

She told me this past weekend that she is a psychopath because of something she read on the internet. Of course, from a very reliable source.  Oh, and a few of her friends are psychopaths too. WTH??

Her worry over it tells me that there is zero possibility. That and my psychology degree. That, my psychology degree, and that she couldn’t hurt a flea. Trust me, I know THIS..

I only know one psychopath, my best friend Cindy’s ex-husband. He started another family while he was married to her. His oldest son was born a few months before their first son was born. He did crazy things like drive into a tree so he had an excuse not to visit his girlfriend after his wife gave birth.

Thankfully, I only had the pleasure of meeting her ex once!

Maybe she should start a blog.

Cindy is happy now. She married a wonderful man named Ted. They had teenagers in the house when she got pregnant in her 40’s. My nightmare is her dream come true.

I have to remember that this will pass..

Maybe someday I will even laugh about it.

Yes, I’m certain that I will….when my kids call me someday with teenager issues…while I am out traveling the world..


I’ll probably worry about this

It was Friday night. I was hitting up a local bar that I never have been to but was close to home. I was surrounded by people, alone. There was a man outside. He was very large and scary looking. He also brandished a semi automatic weapon of some sort. He was telling people what to do. I was afraid, but I left my cell phone in the car.

Then it seemed like I went back in time to the 1980’s. The place seemed old and rather run down. No one had a cell phone, but the owner of the place had an old rotary phone that I called 911 on to try to get help. 911 said that it wasn’t in their jurisdiction. Sorry we can’t help you. I called my husband. He came inside the building with me along with faceless nameless other people I didn’t know who seemed oblivious to the threat. When he got there, I hid in the back room with a machete. I felt like a coward for hiding and leaving him out there to defend me.

They found me in the back room anyway. I had a knife fight with another person to defend myself. It was awkward because I was left handed. I got stabbed in the stomach. I was dying but felt no pain and wondered why.

I woke up at 3:43 AM.

On Friday night, we actually went to the nursing home to visit Martha. At the end of the visit, we watched the birds in the cages.

Last night I dreamed that I was going to be dropped off somewhere in the middle of nowhere to run at night. It was going to be dangerous. It might storm. I might have to seek shelter. I was excited until I got attacked by the nursing home birds. I woke up screaming NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Two nights with nightmares, two days without exercise. Maybe I really do need to run to outrun my demons.

Yesterday I thought a lot about worrying. It has been a life long struggle for me. I decided to keep a list of every worry that came across my mind. I gave up after already having at least a dozen before I left for work.

I realize that worry is not going to add an extra day to my life. Worrying and overthinking every possible scenario does not equate to having control. It takes away my joy and I really want to sever its hold on me.

Sometimes I also have anxiety, which is a lot different from worry. Sometimes I even panic about the things I tell you. Opening up. Being honest. But if I really (over)think about it, who cares? Probably not the 3 people that actually take the time to read my posts.

I hate it when people tell me I need to worry less. Don’t worry. Be happy. Don’t you think I’ve already worried about how I can worry less?

Or they tell me that I really don’t trust God because if I did I wouldn’t worry. That just plain hurts my feelings. Let go and let God. If it were only that easy. Obviously those people don’t have the same struggle. If they did they would realize that it is not a kind, compassionate, or caring thing to say. It actually gives me more to worry about.

Sometimes I want to slam people with ‘you really don’t trust God enough’ for every weakness or struggle they have.

Wow, guess who is feeling a little edgy today??

I am going to end this here and sit around for the next couple of hours worrying about what I just wrote.



I could’ve been a millionaire…

I have been sworn to secrecy about this for over a couple of months now. But it really doesn’t matter anymore. I decided to do the 30 day writing challenge partially to avoid talking about it. I am really good at avoiding things. I should’ve listed it as one of my greatest strengths a couple of posts ago. Or maybe it is a weakness?? Who knows?

Nevertheless, a secret is a secret no matter how hard it is to keep.

It all started back in August when my husband Paul was approached by a multi-million dollar company that wanted to acquire us. We really didn’t think much of the idea at first. We weren’t interested in selling. But they wined and dined us. After a couple of meetings, this company offered to fly Paul across the country (all expenses paid) to tour the corporate office and meet with all of the bigwigs. The meeting went well, REALLY well.

After Paul returned from the meeting, this company requested all of our financial reports. Paul keeps meticulous financial records and they corresponded with each other over the weekend. Over the weekend! Although we weren’t looking for a relationship, they relentlessly pursued us. They even spoke of us moving in together.

We thought things were serious, like we would be getting a big honking diamond ring.

Then we started to dream… Suddenly our small 3 bedroom house wasn’t good enough any more. Our college age daughter already expressed disinterest in coming home for the summer. She didn’t want to have to share a room with her younger sister. I noticed the worn flooring. I grew tired of the neighbor yelling obscenities at his dog. I wanted something bigger. I wanted a 4 bedroom house out in the country. Then I got tempted. I started looking at houses online. We even went and looked at one.

Then I found “the house”. It had everything I wanted and more…It had 4 bedrooms on 6 acres of land. It even had an in ground indoor hot tub and swimming pool. I imagined myself throwing lavish parties there.. But it would be practical too.. I could train for triathlons in my pool without having to spend money on a gym membership. It was almost 7,000 square feet of pure bliss. I know, it seems excessive…But who cares when I could buy it in cash??

Then I started to dream bigger. I had it all planned out. We would go through with the acquisition. I would work many hours over the next 6 months training my replacement. Then I would have the summer off to spend with my kids and train for my races. In the fall, I would start working on my Master’s degree in creative writing. Then I would start writing my book about growing up with an autistic sibling..

Paul started sharing our good news with close family and friends at the time the deal seemed certain to go through. I told my mom my plan of writing the book and she was excited to work on it with me. It seemed so perfect. I wouldn’t have to work or worry about money. I could be a writer. Let’s face it, I am not going to write the next Harry Potter series..I’d probably only sell a few copies…I would do it because I enjoyed it, not for money.

I admit, perhaps I was a bit greedy planning my new life as a millionaire. It seemed like all of the hard work of starting a business was finally paying off. All the years of pouring ever extra penny into our business. I thought especially of the early years when we barely had enough to pay our monthly bills and we had three little mouths to feed. I thought of the long hard hours when we couldn’t get away. I remember dragging Paul to the office after major surgery when he wasn’t supposed to work. I thought of Paul working hard to earn an MBA while running a start up business, raising a family, and still making time to volunteer in the community. Finally, we could enjoy the fruits of our labor. Or so we thought..

Not only were we planning on paying off all of our debt and investing our money, we were planning on helping others. We were thinking of helping out the woman at church whose husband lost his job. We just found out that Martha’s (Paul’s mom) cancer has spread and that the chemo is no longer working. She needs a new medication that she can’t afford. We could help her pay for some medical expenses. Hell, I was even thinking of supporting some of your blogs..

Then the day came and went when we were expecting the initial offer. They kept putting the meeting off. Our patience started to run thin. I became edgy, worried, and depressed. The uncertainty was killing us. What was going to happen? Were they going to offer us what we were worth? Would it be months of bargaining? Would someone else buy the house that my heart was set on??

Then yesterday we heard the bad news that they were no longer interested in acquiring us despite having every reason to believe otherwise. Instead, they wanted to see if we might be interested in consulting with them in how to start their own division. Consult our new competition with deep pockets! Hell no!!

The CEO wanted to go forward with the deal, but the owner said “no”. The CEO said the owner might change his mind and come back to us in a couple of months if things don’t work out. I really don’t want to be with you anymore, but maybe we can still be friends with benefits (without health insurance)… Yippee!!

I was expecting a nice big fancy engagement ring, but instead got a one night stand. Talk about leaving a bad taste in my mouth!!

This all happened yesterday. I felt so angry that I couldn’t even talk. I wanted to be alone because I thought I might scream at the first poor hapless person who stumbled upon my path. I am still pissed. I am disappointed. I am depressed. I want to break something.

How can I explain how it feels? How can I expect sympathy when others around me are struggling?? Losing their jobs…barely able to make ends meet…getting divorced…Woe is me, I am not a millionaire..condolences please..

So we will continue to build our business…slowly placing one small block upon another…until one day hopefully this all pays off.

We will continue to live in debt…mortgage…two car payments…high health insurance premiums…another kid in braces…college tuition, for my daughter instead of me…business loans..

I will continue with my 30 day writing challenge…

Although a few tears still drop for my dreams that died..

At least we still have each other…

Maybe this is for the best… My husband won’t be gone all of the time playing the corporate game…We can come and go as we please now that our business is not in its infancy anymore. I can take a long lunch to train for a marathon without anyone to answer to. I can tell you all of my secrets while I am at work if I want to. I can even leave early to attend my kids endless events…or to go to all of the wonderful orthodontist appointments..

I have to think this is for the best, otherwise I would be devastated.

22. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? 15 years?

Day 22: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? 15 years?

This is a really difficult question for me right now… I see myself approaching a major fork in the road.. I don’t know where it will take me or what I will decide because there are too many unknowns right now..

I have been thinking more and more about going back to school to get my Master’s degree and then writing. I may have the opportunity to make this dream come true. If things don’t work out, I will simply keep on doing what I am doing….Nothing changes.

In 5 years…. I will be sending my last child off to college. I will have my Master’s degree and have finished my first book about growing up with an autistic sibling. I am almost done with my second book which I will write about my husband. It will be an American success story about a boy growing up in poverty, working hard, and succeeding in business. I also will complete my first Half Iron in this time frame. 

In 10 years….. I will be traveling the world with my husband taking pictures and writing about our adventures. I will be very active on my trips from all the endurance I gained from years of exercise. We will be free from anything that ties us down….Work…Debt….Pets…Our kids will be out of college and settling into their own lives. 

In 15 years…. My years of adventure and excitement are behind me now. I will be ready to settle down with a house full of cats. I will spend a lot of time in a rocking chair telling my grandchildren the story of my adventures. 

It is hard to guess what I will be doing next month, but I can see this being a plausible way of spending my next 15 years…

7. What is your dream job?

7. What is your dream job, and why?

When I was younger, quite a bit younger, I wanted to be a counselor. I earned a Bachelor’s degree with a counseling emphasis. I had every expectation to get my Master’s degree and become a licensed counselor, but didn’t.

To tell you the truth, I wanted to fix broken people. I wanted to change them. I wanted to take their weaknesses and make them strengths. I wanted to make flowers grow in a patch of weeds.

I never told you this before, when I was younger my mom would pair me up with younger girls that also had difficult sibling situations. Sometimes I would visit for a few hours or a weekend. I think that the purpose was to counsel and console them like I did with my mom. There was no doubt I would be a counselor.

Then my last year of college happened. We had a professor that was a counselor. She made me doubt my career ambitions. She took away my unrealistic expectations and told us what it really was like being a counselor.  She told us how her holidays were interrupted because she had a take calls from suicidal clients. She told us of the times she lost clients to suicide and spoke of how difficult it was to handle. I questioned my ability to change people. I mean, I couldn’t even change myself or my loved ones who were struggling.

Really, who did I think I was? God?? To think that I could save people?

I thought about going back to school to be a counselor off and on over the last couple of decades, but no longer have the interest to do so. I don’t think I could listen to people talk about their problems and not do anything to fix them. I really lack compassion for those who are unwilling to change and just want someone to complain to. I think it would be incredibly hard to watch someone spiral down into mental illness and not be able to pull them back out. I would take every suicide personally as a failure on my part.

I also dreamed of being a librarian..surrounded by books in quiet serenity…organizing books..

I dreamed of being a lead singer in a band…exciting weekends being a star.

I even dreamed of working alone in a lab analyzing samples…checking for little details that might be off…water samples…pap smears…biopsies…DNA testing…being away from people using my analytical skills.

But right now, more than anything, my dream job is to be a writer.. I have been considering leaving my job of nine years and going back to get my Master’s degree in writing…The first thing that I would do is write my story…growing up with an autistic sibling… I would make it my life work… I would tell my mom…receive her blessing…get all of her journals that she used to write in to compile with mine… then write…offer hope to (without trying to fix)  people who are struggling…it has been something I have always felt compelled to do… then I would be free from it and spend the rest of my life being a freelance travel writer…travel the world off the beaten path…take many pictures and write…

That would be my dream job..


What if??

Last night I watched Paul perform as the lead at the local community theater. He did an awesome job. I have heard people say that he missed his calling. But is it ever too late to go after your dreams?

I have been thinking about that a lot this week. 

When I met Paul, he started out with nothing. He was in his late 20’s living with a roommate in the bad part of town. He spent most of his childhood in the inner city of Chicago born to a single teen mom. He didn’t have a dad. His mom dropped out of high school. She tried to get her GED, but just wasn’t smart enough. You wouldn’t expect a man from such humble upbringings to start a successful business from nothing. But that is what he did. 

If he can do that, why can’t he do so much more??

Paul asked me this week if I was happy living in his shadow. What if after working together for ten years we decided to part ways? What would I do? Maybe I would go back to school to learn how to be a better writer? Or take singing lessons? Or push my fitness goals to a whole new level? Try a new career?

I never once embraced the idea of change. But what if?? What if we moved away from this town? Or out of the state? I never lived over 40 minutes from my parents house. 

I have started to grow restless with my old friends. I thought that they all changed. But maybe it wasn’t them that changed, maybe it was me.

Everything is changing all around me. People are coming and going from my life at record speeds. 

In less than a week, my daughter will be leaving home for the first time. Change! 

My MIL only has a few months left to live. Weeks? Days?? Change! 

None of it is of my choosing or within my control. 

I never really liked or wanted things to change, even when it is for the better. Now I seem to long for it. I can’t even explain it.

Sometimes I have to wonder…..what if??  

Back to my “normal” routine

With the exception of the bride and groom, the wedding went without a hitch!

The groom in last weekend’s wedding is the only child of my Aunt Jan. For the wedding, Aunt Jan walked down the aisle followed by her husband and ex-husband who walked in together. We all loved Aunt Jan’s ex-husband Rob. That is, until he started his second family while he was married to her. This happened many years ago. Now Aunt Jan is married to a wonderful guy.

When Rob was my uncle, he always made us laugh. He teased me about boyfriends. I remember him saying that he sang the song Elvira in the shower. Why I remember he made that general comment back in the 1980’s is beyond me. Why do we remember what we remember?? My memories are very strongly tied to music. 

My brother Luke and I couldn’t wait to talk to “Uncle Rob”. This was the first time that we saw him since the divorce when we were young kids. He seemed kind of sad to me. Other than that, I spent a lot of time talking to my relatives that I only see for weddings and funerals. We might not even get together for Christmas anymore.

Last night I was much too tired to write. I didn’t sleep well while I was gone. The first night, Angel and I tossed and turned all night. The second night, the alarm clock went off at midnight in our hotel room. The third night, the smoke detector went off. When we were at the waterpark, our hotel room was located along the main walkway between indoor parks and restaurants. It was so loud that I turned the fan on high for some white noise. The A/C didn’t work with the fan. Our room was hot and humid enough to set off the humidity sensor on the smoke alarm.

Plus I woke up in the middle of a dream, a nightmare in fact. I was dreaming about opening a box of high school memories and it was full of notebooks and writings. Then I opened a box of Matt’s high school memories and it was full of knives. My friends I lost were watching me open Matt’s box and it was just as unnerving as the alarm. Do I have nightmares often without knowing?? The last night at the hotel two thunderstorms rolled through in the middle of the night. Then I dreamed my son overdosed on drugs and died. 

What miserable sleep! With over 10 hours of driving, three different hotel rooms, and two nightmares I felt pretty crappy.

Last night I took Matt back to his group home. He attended the wedding with my parents. My dad dropped my mom off to go on vacation with a friend of hers. I felt very emotional and down about dropping Matt off. Afterwards, I asked my dad if Matt would be able to come home over the next couple of weeks while my mom is gone. My dad said that he didn’t know how to take care of Matt. I think that was what was bothering me. I don’t know how to take care of Matt either.

When Matt is at home, my mom won’t let anyone take care of him. She crushes his pills with a mortar and pestle. He takes different medications, elixirs, and vitamins throughout the day. It used to be hard enough when Matt couldn’t have dairy and gluten. But now he is allergic to many more things like potatoes, cinnamon, beet sugar, and black pepper. My mom scours labels for hours searching for the type of sugar on ingredient lists. If anyone cooks an offending food on the same grill without proper cleaning, puts the finished food on the same plate as an offending food, or gets the diet mixed up then my mom gets upset. It has been this way for years, just not quite so extreme. I would have a hard time figuring it out if I was a dietician. We can’t be like my mom and that alienates us from him. 

I am safely back home now, got some rest, and am back to my normal routine.


Is my run over?

I feel like I am letting go of my dreams.

For a long time I held a handful of colorful helium balloons. Today I let them fly off into the air. Maybe I still grasp a few in my hands. But they are shriveled up like oxygen got in them….breathe…I can’t let go of all of my hope.

Saturday I had a wonderful run. I ran 18 miles without stopping except for a short bathroom, gu, and water break. I was fast. I had the stamina I spent months training for. Life was good. At the end I felt a twinge of knee pain, but it went away after a day.

Yesterday was my first run of this week. I ran 12 miles. The first 6 miles went pretty good with my knee brace on. I had to walk 3 out of the last 6 miles. Afterwards, my knee felt fine.

Today, I decided to go for a 6 mile run but only made 5. The first mile or two I felt a twinge of pain in my knee with my brace on. Then it started getting worse to the point that I needed to walk. I was afraid that by pushing on I would get hurt. At this point, I was halfway home regardless of whether I decided to keep walking or turn around. I tried calling my husband to come pick me up but he didn’t answer.

I was feeling so angry that I wanted to take my arms like a baseball bat and knock over mailboxes. I also wanted to kick over the garbage containers that littered the side of the road. But I convinced myself that further injury probably wouldn’t help my cause. It probably would piss off the neighbors, provide them with entertainment, or I would end up crossing off going to jail off my bucket list.

The marathon is 3 weeks away. I am going to try to take it easy for the next week or two and see what happens when I try running again. Right now I am not even fit to run a 5k.

I am so disappointed. There is no way that I am going to be able to run a marathon if I can’t even run a few miles without pain.

The real kicker is that my knee feels fine right now.

Last(ing) things

Last night I woke up in the middle of the night crying from a nightmare. In my dream, Paul and I were in some sort of clinic. Someone we knew was close by and received good news. They were expecting a child after years of trying. But we received bad news. I dreamed that Paul had cancer too. We were going to watch his mother die, then he was going to die of the same thing. It was all very horrifying. I woke up upset and crying. I reached over and held onto Paul tightly.

Back in October, Paul’s mother Martha came out to Alex’s confirmation. She had been sick for over a year at that time. She had a cough that would not go away which her doctor said was caused by medicine that she was taking. She was always sick with sinus infections or bronchitis. When we saw her in October, she was wheezing, short of breath, and gasping for air. She looked horrible. We told her to go back to the doctor.

In November, the doctor found a tumor in her stomach and lung. They thought that the tumors were the same kind, that they  would be easily treated with a pill. She was going to be okay. Martha already survived breast cancer 15 years ago. 

Then in January, the doctor found out that the tumors were two different unrelated kinds. In February, Martha was diagnosed with stage 4 terminal lung cancer. The cancer filled one lung and was moving into the other. Then last week, she found out that the cancer had moved into her brain.

Martha is now taking a combination of chemo and radiation. Last week Martha lost her long shiny hair. I haven’t seen her yet without hair. That is going to hit us all hard. I am glad that Paul was given some forewarning to take the time to say good bye. I have to forgive her for all of the past hurts. 

Our relationship with Martha has always been volatile, especially in the earlier years. When Paul and I bought our first house, Martha wanted to help me make curtains. We went together and I spent more than I expected to on material. We started the project, but before we could finish Martha got into a big fight with her son and left me with unfinished curtains. My grandma helped me finish the project.

There were countless times that Paul and Martha would fight. Martha screamed at Paul and kicked him out of her house anytime that we had to discipline the kids. She would show up late for holidays. It has been years since we celebrated any holiday with Martha. Sometimes she would cancel out at last minute or not show up at all.

One time Martha and I were going to take the kids to a water park. She was running late to the point where we weren’t going to be able to make the trip worthwhile. This was the only time that I confronted her. She didn’t talk to me for a year.

Martha often called and spoke of gambling trips that she took with friends then complained that she didn’t have money for gas to come see the kids and their events. Our relationship was marked with a lot of anger, hurt, and resentment. She is a difficult person that likes to argue and say hurtful things, and now she is dying.

This week she called Paul and asked him what we were doing for Easter. We have plans with my family. Today is Matt’s 40th birthday. My whole family will be getting together to celebrate Matt’s birthday on Saturday and then Easter on Sunday. We are able to see each other as a group a couple of times a year. I told Paul that we could cancel the Easter plans with my family to see his mother. It most likely will be her last Easter. Paul decided to keep our plans as is. 

I forgive you, Martha! I will try to remember the good times. When you weren’t crabby, you were always so much fun. Your fun loving, upbeat, optimistic attitude is hard to beat. You provide a lot of excitement. There was never a dull moment with you. You are always happy with the littlest things. You are content with what you have. You try to make the most out of situations. You always had good intentions. 

By far the best gift that Martha gave me was her son. She made the right decision when she decided to keep her unwanted pregnancy. For that, I will be forever grateful.