― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
Recently I decided to get back on the creative projects bandwagon by distressing some furniture. I was in Florida for the holidays and since Florida has the BEST thrift stores, (seriously the best), I decided to hit a few up. I picked up an old vintage school desk that I am currently restoring and will be distressing but I also ran across a wooden fold up chair that I thought would work nicely. Best part is the chair itself cost me $.05!
I used the supplies I bought for the school desk so this project really cost me very little. I found the seat pad on clearance at Target for $2.95. Score!
How to distress furniture:
To get this look I primed the chair first. This is important in distressing furniture for both the prepping of the surface but also for the end look I desired. I wanted to see the color of the wood and the primer peaking through.
I watered down the paint so it didn't go on too thick and again, could see the wood and primer through it.
Once that dried, I sanded it down until I achieved the look I wanted. Then I applied two coats of water based polyurethane.
The key to distressing furniture is in the layers of color. This gives it depth and that old, worn, painted over 5 times, feel. This one gives me the dark wood, the white of the primer and the final paint color. You don't always want to see the primer but in this case, I did.
The end result is quite adorable, if I do say so myself!
For more furniture design inspiration and ideas and how to distress furniture, this book is fabulous:
I've had two empty 24" x 36" poster frames for years. The posters in stores are never this size and any time I found a poster I did like online it was ridiculously expensive. $40 for a poster? Really? No thanks.
Then Christmas hit and I had wrapping paper on the brain and I thought, hey...
So I headed off to Target (they have the best wrapping paper designs, in my humble opinion) and bought two complimentary rolls and, ladies and gentlemen, I give you budget friendly wall art!
The ceilings in my apartment are high so I knew I needed some fairly large wall art for over my couch and this works perfectly!
I would have included my couch in the shot except my son decided it would be a good idea to remove one of the couch legs and throw it away. (It seemed like a good idea at the time, apparently.) So my couch is crooked, something you never noticed until I added the wall art... Sigh. If this were Twitter, I would hashtag this with #singlemotherdecoratingwoes
In any case, it worked and I love the way it looks in my living room. The only difficult part was getting the backing back into the frame without ripping the wrapping paper. I suggest taping one side of the paper to the frame to hold it in place. Otherwise the backing and wrapping paper that wants to roll back up on it's own, make it a tad unwieldy.
I've wanted to write a blog post for new moms for a while but I haven't because, well frankly, what's more annoying than unwanted advice from a mom with older kids who thinks she remembers and knows it all?
That said, and as annoying as I might be, I like to think I'm in a position to give a little advice. Why? Because I parented two children who were 17 months apart basically on my own.
I haven't just experienced motherhood, I've SURVIVED it. My life quickly became about what was needed for everyone to simply survive. When you are stripped down to this level of survival things are no longer about what would be nice or the fancy new things that the other mothers have, it's about what you NEED to make it through the day. I don't suggest a swing because it was cute, I suggest it because some days that is the ONLY way I was able to shower and feed myself. See what I'm getting at?
Even now, do I love TVs and video games? NO. But do I own them and do they come out when a kid is home sick and I need to work. Abso-friggen-lutely. Survival, baby. Survival.
So all that said, I often think about things I would tell a new mother if she was willing to hear it. What would I say if I could only give her one piece of advice that would stick and would help her after giving birth? And I think I've narrowed it down to this:
Brace yourself, sista.
Not because you have no idea what's coming (you don't). Not because you're about to experience giving birth. Not because you're going to be so sleep deprived you'll fall asleep sitting up. Not because you're going to learn what it's like to be pooped on, spit up on and otherwise used like someone else' personal maid/servant/play toy. No, not for all of those real and maybe slightly scary reasons.
Brace yourself because you're about to change.
Brace yourself because motherhood makes you the strongest and most vulnerable version of yourself you could ever possibly imagine. Brace yourself because someone is about to enter the world who could single-handedly make you jump in front of a moving car if you had to, to protect them. Brace yourself because you're about to become a fiercely strong lioness. A lioness with an Achilles heel so weak even the thought of harm coming to your child feels like it's enough to utterly destroy you.
Brace yourself because from here on out, from the moment you experience the miracle of giving birth, you will live and breathe for someone else. Because even in your most selfish moments, your child will always occupy a place in your mind. First, you will never leave their side and then, when you inevitably have to let them go, you will always wonder if they are okay.
Yes, YOU are beginning a transformation. This isn't about "having" a baby. This isn't about what's involved in giving birth. This isn't about schedule or sleep or the 8 lbs that's about to come flying out of your va-jay-jay.
This is about becoming a mother.
You, my friend, are about to experience a love so profound you will wonder how you ever existed without it. A love that will change you and consume you from the moment they arrive until the day you leave this earth.
So brace yourself, sista.
And WELCOME TO MOTHERHOOD.
Image credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=3849
To which I very nicely replied that, while I appreciate the offer, I actually do OK and that there are other families who need it far more than I do.This morning I got a call from the school my kids attend. It was the guidance counselor and she wanted to know if we would be interested in being sponsored by another family for Christmas.
She said she understood and that she had asked both my kid's teachers and they both thought of me because I am a single mom. She said she knows it can be hard and wanted to offer the help.
I very politely thanked her and reassured her we were OK but I'll admit my pride took a hit during that call. It took me a bit to process what the heck was going on. My thought process went something like this:
"What is she calling about? Are my kids ok? Did Kaylee make a big deal about the rash on her arm? Crap. I'm going to have to go get her and then there goes my whole work day."
"Oh. It's not about Kaylee. Phew."
"Sponsor me for Christmas? Wait. She thinks I'm poor! Why does she think I'm poor?? Dammit. I knew I shouldn't have let Michael wear his beloved Spiderman shirt that is too small!"
"Yeah. Single motherhood is hard work, she's got that right. But I'm not poor! Why does she think I'm poor?? Kaylee only wears pants with holes and marker all over them because she takes brand NEW pants and turns them in to art projects and I don't have the TIME to fight with her about wearing them. Should I tell her that? No. Just let her finish"
"Wait a minute... She thinks I'm poor BECAUSE I'm a single mom! Am I being stereotyped? Why yes. Yes I am. Crap."
What bothers me about this call is not that someone offered to help and I'll admit, there was a time when I was forced to sell my things just so I could afford rent and gifts for my kids during the holiday season. So struggle as a single mom is not a foreign subject to me.
Would having someone else buy my kids their gifts have helped? Sure. But, in this economy, who wouldn't have been helped by that?
What bothers me is the stereotyping. Single mom = poor.
Yes. Single motherhood is damn hard work. It's been the struggle of my lifetime and I think it would be safe to assume the last 8 years of my life will be the hardest I will encounter in this lifetime. (Unless, of course, our current government has their way and takes away all my rights. But that's another blog post. Probably one I won't write.)
But I, like any other single mom, have the capability of pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps and making life better.
Just because we may face more challenges than some doesn't mean we can't change that. It doesn't mean we are doomed to a life of welfare and food stamps.
So what REALLY bothers me is that struggle in single motherhood is so easily accepted as "the way it is".
It doesn't have to be!
Single Mamas, we CAN change this stereotype! We CAN pick ourselves up and MAKE our life better.
I'm doing it and it's working. It's not easy but you get up every day and you keep pushing forward.
All the success and happiness you will ever find lies in YOU and it has nothing to do with the obstacles you encounter. It has only to do with how you choose to respond to the obstacles.
Are you going to lie down and give up? Or stand up, toughen up and make things better for you and your kids?
I chose to stand up and I hope you are doing the same.
You deserve all the success and happiness in the world, now go get it!
I have a lot of really great people in my life. In fact, one of the things I love about blogging is I get to meet so many great people. People who speak what is on their minds and put their hearts out there for everyone to read.
Maureen is one of those truly great people who I have had the pleasure of getting to know through blogging.
She blogs at Tatter Scoops and I can honestly say her posts have been some of the most emotionally inspiring posts that I have read thus far.
I asked her to guest blog here because she has a unique perspective on being a single mom, being that she is doing it in Indonesia.
She faces cultural challenges that I am very thankful I do not have to face. What's more is she does it with grace and dignity.
She's written a guest post here on what it's like to be a divorced woman in Indonesia. And I also encourage you to head on over to her blog and read what else she has to say.
I think you will enjoy her warm heart and words as much as I do!
UPDATE: Maureen is no longer at Tatter Scoops, which is why the links no longer work. She is over at Scoops of Joy now and I highly recommend you head over, read what she has to say and say "hi". She's a wonderful mother with and amazing view on life. Her blog is a bit of therapy for the soul.
The first thought that popped in my head when Jessica asked me to guest post on her blog was the D word. As in Dating!
But after several paragraphs, I realized it might be better to write about something that’s more familiar to being a single mom in Jakarta, where the other "D" word still has a negative connotation to it.
A new friend from the States that I met last night over dinner asked about how divorce is being perceived here in Indonesia. She who said “Back home, people are surprise that you are still married. How do Indonesians view divorce?”
We didn’t get a chance to really discuss the topic too much, I answered her concisely that basically, although divorce rates has been on the climbing in Indonesia, it’s still something that very hush-hush. People just don’t openly talk about it.
Why not? Maybe because our Indonesian culture still sees divorce as a shameful thing or as a bad thing…I don’t have the exact answers. But from the look and feel of it, it’s not something to be proud of.
Yet I’m no longer ashamed for being a divorcee, no longer have I felt the need to cover my status in the public eyes. Actually, I’m pretty damn proud of myself for coming along this far with the help of my supportive families and friends.
Here in Indonesia, they still put your marital status on just about every single form. From our ID cards to job employment forms. I learned from a mailing list of Indonesian Single Parents that some who got divorced here now had the section on their ID card printed as: Divorced.
Mine said I’m single because my neither marriage nor divorce was recorded here in Indonesia.
From the mailing list too I read some comments last week about how we as divorced women are ‘supposed’ to act accordingly to protect ourselves from the negativity that’s already surround our status. "Accordingly" as in to dress properly, to behave, etc. This my friend, to me sounds like a bunch of nonsense.
I replied all fired up and my vocal opinion on this subject may not make me the most loveable member of the group but I don’t give a damn. One’s morality or attitude cannot simply be judged by their marital status. Being a divorcee doesn’t mean we are bad people.
To them I say, please don’t let our divorcee status define who we really are as an individual. Good mannerisms and how we carry ourselves in public has totally nothing to do with being divorced. It all comes back to our own personalities.
Doesn’t matter if you’re a Westerners or Asians, the pain of divorce is hard to deal with. It’s a daily struggle to be a divorcee and going through one if you’re living in the capital city of Indonesia and I read that daily from the mailing list so I can only imagine what my fellow Indonesians ‘sisters’ are facing if they live in a small town.
When I said I’m proud of myself it’s not because my marriage ended. No one, I repeat no one enters a marriage thinking they want to get a divorce. What I’m proud is the way I survived the end of that marriage. Proud that I rebelled against the whole stigma surrounding my own culture. Proud because I dust myself off and am moving on with life. Proud because I chose to embrace co-parenting when most divorced women here have total deadbeat exes.
I just wish some day; somehow my patriarchy culture will stand by their women instead of sneering at us divorced women. In a country where polygamy is accepted as its major religious views, it’s time to show some support for divorced – often times abused - women. I hope one day they will have some sort of Child Support Agency like they have back in the States so these deadbeats fathers here will learn to be responsible for their children.
Here’s to keeping these hopes alive and becoming a reality soon.
It's inevitable for me after a failed relationship that I hit this stage. The stage of pure, unadulterated anger.
This is the point where I usually find myself wondering how and why someone who was supposed to care about me, treated me so poorly.
I feel victimized and empowered at the same time and seriously just want to kick some ass. Or burn something. Or yell at someone.
Except by this time I'm already so thoroughly exhausted from other other array of non-optimum emotions that I usually just push and anger aside and try and move on. Or at least move onto figuring out HOW to get over a breakup.
This time though, was different.
This time I starred the anger down and confronted it head on. Instead of just letting it simmer inside me, I was able to come to a resolution.
See, it does me no good to be angry at someone for treating me poorly. I mean, really. What good does it do?
There is a Buddist quote that says, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
In terms of breakup quotes, I think this one is pretty great. And how true that is! It really does no good to get mad. But what do you do instead?
Well, I had to take responsibility for what I did that got me there.
That's right. In order to figure out how to get over a breakup, I had to figure out how I got into such a relationship in the first place.
Sure it makes for good drama for an unsuspecting girl to meet a wonderful boy and, 1 year later, said boy goes all Jekyll and Hyde on her, leaving her devastated, angry and unable to understand what the hell happened.
But as dramatic as this sounds, it's not a very likely scenario.
More likely is that "unsuspecting girl" is really girl with low self esteem and "wonderful boy" has really been Mr. Hyde all along.
More likely is said boy has been treating her like crap from the beginning, maybe not to the extent of whatever crappiness brought the relationship to a halt, but like crap nevertheless.
And she just took it because somewhere deep down she never realized she deserved better.
Somewhere, sometime and on some level she agreed that it was OK for someone to treat her like crap. And so when Mr. Hyde arrived and treated her a little less like crap than the previous ones, she labeled him "Mr. Wonderful" and just took it.
I won't get into my whole journey here, as it is long and probably boring. But I will say that, while it takes two to send a relationship into the depths of hell; the only place I should be looking is within myself.
How can I blame someone else for treating me like crap when I basically started out saying, "Hey, it's OK to treat me like crap"?
Did I say it just like that? No.
But when you accept things you know are not right and when you accept treatment that is less than you deserve. When you make excuses for these things or start apologizing for what you did to make a person treat you this way then you are, in fact, saying, "Hey! It's OK to treat me like crap."
And when you start off a relationship just like that, how can you expect anything less than pure, unadulterated crap?
So now, lessons learned, I am back to number 1. Back to putting myself back together so that I think highly enough of myself to not settle for anything less than amazing.
The best part is, the more I look within myself and the more I evaluate what I want out of life for myself and others, the more I like myself. And the more I realize I would be absolutely crazy to ever settle for anything less than amazing again.
And THAT'S how I figured out how to get over a breakup.
Additional posts on relationships: He's Just Not That into You.
An Open Letter to All Men
Nothin' but Love
Part of the wonderful - or not so wonderful - things about single motherhood is that it seems I am always rushing around. Always rushing and always looking for ways to cut corners and make things more efficient and faster.
Add to that the fact that, while I love cooking, I despise the time and clean up involved; and it's easy to see why my crockpot is my best friend.
Recently I went hunting for new crockpot recipes and I stumbled on one for Italian Sausage Soup. I'm not sure what made me try it, since it has whole spinach leaves in it. And since spinach is green and a vegetable the probability of my son eating it was low.
But alas, I tried it and IT WAS AWESOME. Better yet, both my kids devoured it! Even the spinach!
All it took was a story about Popeye the sailor man (thanks, Popeye) and my kids were gulping down the greens and have asked for it several times since.
Trader Joes didn't have shell noodles so I used a slightly larger noodle that Kaylee claimed looked like "little hats". (I personally thought they looked like nipples, but I wasn't gonna tell her that.)
This is the recipe and, while rolling the sausage into tiny little balls is a little time consuming, I made a large batch and it reheats well.
1 pound mild Italian sausage, casings removed
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
4 cups hot chicken broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup mini pasta shells*
bag (10 ounces) baby spinach leaves
Grated Parmesan cheese
salt to taste
Or use other tiny pasta, such as ditalini (mini tubes) or farfallini (mini bowties).
Do you have any go-to recipes that make your life easier?
Remember this book?
Well I order it, it arrived today and I finished it today. Yeah, I know I'm about 7-8 years too late on this bandwagon but when this book was released I was married and pregnant with my first child and really could not have cared less about what this book had to say.
An unfortunate fact since, had a cared and read the book at the time, I probably would have saved myself a LOT of heartache over the course of the last 7-8 years.
I'm not going to get into talking too much about a book that is old news. (I KNOW, I'm seriously late on the bandwagon). But as I was reading the book I started thinking...
There seems to be this general agreement that there are far more good women than there are good men. And that women just need to "be strong" and hold out for her "Prince Charming".
But what if that's a bunch of crap?
With all of the changes in society, the economy and the general roll of a woman over the last few decades, it's easy to make the argument that women are more evolved then men, and maybe we are. But have we evolved ourselves onto an impossibly high pedestal?
Do we now think so highly of ourselves and our Hollywood-induced concept of romance that we are our own worst enemy? Have we become big-headed and unnecessarily critical of men? Are WE the reason we are still single?
Or are we simply less tolerant of behavior we previously HAD to turn a blind eye to?
Let's put it this way: 50 years ago a woman depended on a man for survival. She depended on him to pay her bills and to buy her nice things. She HAD to be more tolerant of his behavior, her survival depended on it.
If he cheated or hit her or yelled at her, she turned a blind eye, wrote it off as having "had a bad day" and went about her business.
But what about now?
Now she is able to kick him out. She is able to be picky. She no longer depends on him or her survival, she only wants companionship and maybe a family. But honestly, in this day and age, a woman doesn't NEED a man to have a family. Just a clinic and his best swimmers.
And the general consensus is that this puts us women at an advantage. It puts us in a place where we can afford to hold out and wait for our "Prince Charming".
But I think this whole situation has a downside that we women, sitting up here on our highly evolved pedestals, seem to be overlooking.
It seems to me that we are becoming less and less tolerant of behavior that is simply the behavior of a human being and a MAN.
We get annoyed when we don't get wined and dined or when he checks out another woman. Or that he needs us to iron his shirt. We resent that he expects a cooked meal at the end of an exhausting work day.
We don't need them to take care of us anymore and we resent that they still needs us.
But that's just it. Women have evolved in a area that men have not, an area that men may never evolve in. But more than that, we women have become intolerant of behavior that is quite simply the behavior of a man.
We sit here on our pedestals and criticize men for being men. We don't try and understand them AS THEY ARE. Instead we compare them to our delusional concept of what we think a man should be.
Listen ladies, MEN ARE THE WAY THEY ARE. That's all. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Somehow men have this figured out far better than us women do. They KNOW we can be a little crazy, they know we overreact, get emotional and need romantic gestures that are not intrinsic to their God given behavior. They know this, they accept this and THEY LOVE US ANYWAY.
But not us women. Nope. We criticize them for "not evolving" and move through them like we change outfits simply because he did not meet our expectation of what we think a man should be like.
Am I saying you should put up with shitty behavior from a man? No. I am not.
But I am saying that we women need to start loving men for who they are, not some deluded concept of what we now think they should be.
It takes patience and tolerance to love a man. It's not a walk in the park. They do stupid things sometimes and need to be taken care of in ways we think they should have outgrown by now.
Then again, women are no walk in the park either!
But there is a difference between not tolerating bad and toxic behavior and simply being intolerant.
This may not be a popular idea but I think we, as women, are becoming intolerant. And not in a strong, kick-ass way. But in a biased, "my gender is better than yours" way.
Ladies, if you want a husband then expect to get a husband and everything that goes with it, whether it be good or bad. Don't expect a wife in husband clothing.
So my advice to anyone currently unhappy with the scarcity of "good men" is to start loving men for who they really are. Men are not the way they are because they are "unevolved". They are the way they are because they are MEN.
And, while we're at it, let's be honest with ourselves. If we REALLY didn't need men, then why the hell did this book end up a New York Times best-seller?
Want to read more on this topic? Try my post: An Open Letter To All Men
Haven't read the book yet? You can grab it here:
I had an inspired thought the other day that was something along the lines of this:
Wouldn't it be great if I could find it in me to love what I AM instead of wishing I were something I'm not?
Wouldn't it be great if, when I looked in the mirror, I admired something about my body that I love instead of focusing on the parts that I wish were different?
What if, while I'm wading though life's many obstacles; instead of beating myself up for my shortcomings, I celebrated my strengths?
What IF, right?
And then I thought: WHY NOT?
So I tried it.
When I looked in the mirror I focused on things I could admire. Instead of groaning and wishing my thighs were smaller, I decided I liked my curves. Instead of squishing my forehead and saying a little Botox prayer; I decided that I liked my big, brown eyes.
Then I focused internally.
Being now on the upside of a break up, I am all too aware of my flaws. (WHY do break ups always highlight our flaws??) I'm moody and I overreact. Sometimes I talk too much about myself and fail to ask about the other person. I'm demanding and I hold things back until I can no longer take it and it blows up.
But instead of focusing on these things, I decided to focus on my strengths and to do something to celebrate them.
And then I thought, what if I could inspire others to embrace their internal and external beauty and strengths and celebrate them too? What if I could encourage someone else to take a look and see that it's not their flaws that define them, but their strengths?
So the "I Am" Project was born.
Each week, right here on this blog, I will feature the story of someone and their journey to find something about themselves that they would like to celebrate.
It will look something like this:
The "I Am" Project - Jessica
My name is Jessica and I'm a 28 year old, single mother of two.
Somehow, through out the course of a failed marriage and several failed relationships, I realized I had come to an understanding with myself that I really didn't matter. That my happiness didn't really matter.
How I got here, I don't fully know. Except that I had gotten to a place where I was my last priority. A dark, dark place where I felt guilty taking time to myself or spending money on myself. And those were just the minor things.
I didn't sleep much because I was needed by someone in the evening and needed by someone in the early morning. The work around the house was endless and someone always needed me.
I had made sacrifices in my marriage and relationships and given to everyone around me to the point where there was just nothing left to give.
And when I stopped giving, because I just couldn't do it any more, the less than savory people around me started to take what they felt was rightfully theirs. And that's when I broke.
It has been a long road back. I have fought battles and personal demons and now I am finally back to a place where I can say that happiness is mine.
But before I could get there, I had to realize one thing:
And THAT is the gist of the "I Am" Project. Now this is where you come in!
Send me your stories and your "I Am" picture. Tell me something great about yourself and your journey to the realization of that greatness. Or just tell me how completely badass you are!
Email your stories and your picture to:
singlemotherhoodbliss AT gmail DOT com
And every other Wednesday we will celebrate YOU and all your strong, badass, beautiful, kickass-ness!
I can't wait to get your stories!
BE CREATIVE!!! :)