Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Up until this point, my life has been shared in text bubbles, with sound bites and wry humor detailing all areas of work and home life, being married and raising children.   

Admittedly, I have judiciously chosen to shine a spotlight on the better moments and left other, less than stellar moments, silent.  I think it has something to do with the old adage, “Laugh and the world laughs with you…weep, and you weep alone.”  Timeless words written by a nineteenth century author, with enduring relevance even now, in the twenty-first century. 

Looking back over 2015, two significant milestones occurred in my life…first, I “celebrated” my 15th wedding anniversary in June, followed by the month of July, when I decided not to “celebrate” any future anniversaries in this marriage.  That’s a nice way of saying I decided to call it quits…ironically, after our annual family vacation.  And there I find the first bits of my unique sunshine emerging from a sad pile of rubble.  It’s a subtle reassurance that I can still take life as it comes and keep swinging.  And importantly, maintain the part of myself that can both laugh and cry, recognizing the need for both.

Fast forward to November 2015, we exchanged a very civilized dissolution of our marriage, with a 45 page legal document detailing every corner of our life from finances to kids.

And in the months leading up to the divorce, we fought very little.  My logic played through nearly every moment of the process.  And while I was seemingly effortlessly managing a smooth transition for the kids, life dealt a different curve ball when my youngest faced a myriad of health issues, ultimately resulting in a need for me to take a leave from work to care for him. 

Generally speaking, dealing with issues and crises has always kind of been my thing. Having been raised in an alcoholic family, I often served as chief peacemaker and caretaker.  It is a role that has been a double-edged sword during my life, at times serving me well and still other times, cutting me to the quick when I stepped in to try to control and care for everything in my purview…instead of acknowledging and accepting accountability for the only part of life any of us can control…our own actions.  Ultimately, having a knack for what I used to perceive as “controlling or containing a problem,” I finally realized my sense of “control” was artificial.  Trying to sweep everything under the rug proved futile over time.  When I finally pulled it up for a good cleaning, all the unresolved problems escaped; it was time to let the dust settle and start fresh. 

My very first lesson: I am only responsible for my own dirt; it’s not my job to clean up after anyone else.  I specifically chose to use a cleaning analogy because one of our biggest differences was in what constituted a clean house…any other inference to “dirt” as having any other meaning is unintentional and inconsequential.

And so we decided to tear up our manuscript on life after having finished many chapters, with the assumption that we would end the final chapter together.  For those who know me well, know that at any moment there can be a plot twist. If I don’t feel it down to my bones, I’m going to look at it and figure out what’s wrong…and if I can’t fix it, I focus on what I can…and move on.  A little late, albeit.

There were plenty of text bubbles and sound bites over the past few months…but sometimes the need to protect the real lives within the text bubbles outweighs the desire to share for entertainment value in the world of personal blogging.  I’ll just leave it at that. 

And now, let the humor begin in earnest where one journey has ended and a new one has begun…life after divorce in the 21st century!

To be continued… Join me and #followthedinopath

Saturday, December 26, 2015

My own legacy...timeless and fresh

Dear Michael Kors®,
My postcard as a frequent shopper

I’ve had this fascination with you for a few years now, coveting your stellar bag designs, wrapped in soft leather, and so many other fun mediums that you, as the creative designer and artist, have made just for me.

Or at least that’s my justification for why I always needed just one more bag or pair of shoes to complete my perfect wardrobe.

Truth be told, as with all high end items that fall more under an indulgent “nice to have” budget versus the magical storytelling of the confident woman, who deserves to have it all, proving myself worthy of these steep price tags is little more than a marketing ploy to get me, the consumer, to spend more.

Oh, but how I have loved your marketing magic…drawing me into your “legacy” that says I don’t have to give up anything…to remain timeless and fresh.

I’m afraid this is where we must call it quits Mr. Kors®.  I respectfully disagree with your logic, though I adore your marketing prowess and admire the smart business model for which you run your business.

Please don’t get me wrong…I am completely sold on the notion that I don’t have to give up anything to be comfortable, timeless and fresh.  I have, however, taken a little creative license in redefining exactly what it means to “have it all.”

Here’s how I turned your “legacy” into a working model to live by in my life:

Make conscious daily choices, to ensure you stay on the right path.

Focus and continuously reevaluate your mindset…critical to the success of your life is to ensure that you have evaluated and assessed your basic needs and are thinking in the right frame of mind to appropriately sift your thoughts in a way that will produce the best results, customized to fit you.

Take a wide, sweeping approach.  I started in my closet, beginning with handbags still wrapped in new packaging, waiting to become a timeless classic and part of my style and wardrobe.  Once my inventory ran into double digits, I knew immediately it was time to trim the fat and bring this lifestyle back down to the level I’d enjoyed in my youth…one every day purse and a few fun bags just in case.  I carefully wrapped the dust covers, piling about a dozen “fresh and sexy” bags into a box, with a resolve I didn’t even know I possessed.

Over time, I had, indeed, created my own storyline to support the over-indulgence of a bad purse habit, with a bad shoe habit pulling a close second.

Last month, my storyline had a plot twist, which included transforming my lifestyle into a single income (overnight). 

I have considered it a unique opportunity to reassess that fabulous life Michael and others have promised me I deserve…and take a glance back on some of the wisdom of my youth. I found this to be an exception to the rule that with age comes wisdom. I had to go back to my childhood and youthful twenties to sharpen my style and find a new legacy for the future.

I love shopping and spending…I love the satisfaction of pulling new tags off of purses, clothing, and shoes.  Some people think you need to wash clothes before wearing them.  But I get a secret satisfaction in pulling a new tag off a suit or shirt, knowing that it is brand new and I am its first owner.

I have spent a fair amount of my life making tight budgets work and being the thriftiest of shoppers.  As a kid, the Salvation Army was one of the boutiques my mom and dad frequented to make ends meet and cloth four growing kids.  I guess that’s why I take this secret pleasure in leaving new tags on clothing I’ve bought on sale out of season, so that I can enjoy knowing it really is something new just for me.

My Pop (grandfather) had a true utilitarian mindset.  He had no room for excess.  He believed that everything in his home and in his barn should serve a purpose in some way. He was a railroader and as he slid into the role of farmer after retirement, he continued to wear his railroad work shirts, threadbare from decades of use.  His closet was just as sparse, with maybe one dress shirt and a tie…though I’m struggling to remember a time he ever put either on. 

I never understood his simplistic way of life, his legacy…until now.

My home is neither sparse, nor utilitarian.  I’m creative and have a great appreciation for old world craftsmanship, including antique furniture, rustic mason jars, and so many more treasures I’ve rescued from yard sales, auctions, and admittedly, a few items that had great “curb side” appeal (translation:  someone threw something away and I saved it from Rumpke’s landfill).  Don’t judge me!  I’ve had several of these said items admired in my home, a few I’ve sold for a profit, and a few that were reclaimed by the curb upon realizing they were indeed useless.

I think I could be considered a hipster of sorts, if I wasn’t sandwiched between the Gen X and Gen Y nations. Growing up in the 70’s, there was a stigma attached to people like me.  It was neither cool nor trendy to shop thrift stores for one’s wearing apparel (but I have always shared Macklemore’s thoughts on “popping tags” and adore him for making thrift shopping trendy). 

My current wardrobe is a blend of new and “vintage”…I’ve never completely released my past shopping habits or that of my mom’s before me.  I think it’s funny to think about a song that describes a way of life for so many people. 

If you consider family heirlooms, items carefully treasured for generations, you’ll see a parallel with those of us not fortunate enough to have had many items handed down…so we saved other family heirlooms and made them our own.  The nice part about swapping family heirlooms, with no sentimental value is that it takes next to nothing to change up a room and swap out nearly new for old…again and again.

My newest channel for new and old…and new again?  EBTH.  That’s “Everything But the House” (, an online auction site for buying and selling estates, collectibles…just about anything you can think of, including kitchen sinks. 

So when I decided to pass on a little bit of my Michael Kors® legacy, EBTH was my first stop.  I consigned to sell several purses and was pleased to learn that the love of Michael Kors® living was not unique to me…turns out there are a lot of people who like those soft leather handbags.  My first check was a tidy sum and I felt no seller’s remorse for having lightened my closet.

Onward! I continued throughout the house, looking for more lifestyle items that had outlived their usefulness for my new standard of living.  Next stop? Waterford®!  Ah, what is it about crystal that makes us want to collect and save these sparkling fragile pieces?  In the 15 years that I’ve collected Waterford® champagne glasses, I think I’ve actually pulled them out and used them to serve at a party maybe one time.  Because I lived in fear of a chipped rim that would render them worthless with a single toast! 

Six sets of champagne flutes went off to the auction block…and I have a check coming in the mail soon that will be put to better use than crystal gathering dust on a shelf.

I’m still taking inventory in my home, deciding what I need, what I want, and what no longer serves a purpose.  Perhaps I’m not as far away as being my grandfather’s granddaughter as I thought…I feel a little utilitarian mindset bleeding through.  I find that in life, it’s important to pause from time to time to take inventory and assess the net worth for the part that counts the most…the part of yourself that no one else can put a price tag on…the part that begins and ends with a feeling of contentment that costs nothing to pass on as a legacy to others.   Oh, and hey Michael Kors®, this one’s on me and I hope you like my sense of style and humor!  I took it from your playbook...

Cheers to defining your own legacy!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Winter Wonderland

It's nearly 60 degrees F in #Cincinnati ... #letitsnow #letitsnow #letitsnow in a winter wonderland (Andrew Sisters - don't ask!  It's before my time too lol).

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Life on the Ropes

One of the many benefits of living and stretching out experiences over a lifetime is that you learn to take the good with the bad.  After a few false starts and dips that feel like a permanent condition, you learn that you never completely fall down and even if you do, you get back up.  For around each of us is an invisible rope, releasing slack when we dip into a valley and suddenly springing us back up and forward as we recover and continue to grow.

I used to worry about worse case scenarios and speculate about what I could and could not deal with.  Turns out, over time, numerous worse case scenarios inevitably became a reality.  Risk aversion just wasn’t a viable choice for day-to-day living and so some of those terrible things I thought I could never handle actually came to pass and I realized that I was more resilient than I gave myself credit for.  I’ve experienced divorce, the death of a parent, close friends…and many other disappointments that although may have given me pause, did not keep me down. 

It’s funny how our risk taking behaviors are flexible and stretch wide in our youth…yet after a few scrapes and scars, we begin to pull in some of the slack as we get older.  We pause to check our surroundings, how far we’ve climbed…or fell…and consider how far we have left yet to go…where we’re still willing to go and equally important, if and when we reach a peak we’re comfortable resting on. 

I remember the first time I went repelling off a cliff.  I was around 30.  I seized the moment (okay maybe with shaky hands clinging tightly to a rope as I was strapped in as I tried to quiet a slight twitch from my left leg trying to settle into a comfortable stance).  I had a lot riding on that decision standing on that rock overlooking a very beautiful and scenic Red River Gorge.  My oldest son (then around five years old) was looking on to see what I would do.  There I was…his mom, who always told him to embrace more, dream big, and live life to the fullest.  Clearly, backing out was not an option.  This was one of those great big life moments I’d remember forever.  And I was going to share the lesson even if it killed me in the process.

Two things stand out clearly in my mind from that day.  First, leaning backward off a cliff is not a natural feeling.  In fact, a healthy fear tells us to walk carefully and stay away from the edge (heck, not turn away from it and walk backwards toward thin air and a deep plunge).  Second, you have to have complete faith in that person at the bottom serving as your belay.  Because the feeling of absolute terror just before your first kick off the top rock can be an adrenaline rush or an absolute nightmare, depending on your penchant for adventure.  Personally, I’ve never been a big risk taker.  In fact, I still worry a lot.  About things that could happen, that have happened, and that may never happen.  And I’m okay with that.  It just happens to be who I am.  But if I let it keep me from jumping off cliffs and into new adventures, that would be a problem for me.  So I challenge myself every day to do things that make me nervous.  Because I’ve lived long enough to know that anticipation and dread can be confused with each other.  I find that I always feel grateful for having committed to and having followed through with something that challenged me to do more than I was comfortable with.   And yes, there is a lot of fear and angst along the way leading up to whatever “said epic event” happens to be.  We all have our own dinosaurs to conquer.

And quite recently, at a time in my life when absolutely everything has been changing, I find myself re-assessing that line…and surprisingly, feeling the urge to loosen up the rope.  Instead of cautiously looking over a cliff, I’m kicking backward off the highest rock, with the confidence of a lifetime reassuring me that I may well plunge to the bottom… and it will be way scarier than I ever imagined, and I’ll probably regret it about halfway down…but most importantly, I will still somehow get back up and live to climb another day.  And the tautness of my rope will depend on my natural born grit and intuitive gut that only comes from living a life in forward motion and without apology.  And some trustworthy belays along the way!  

Still Following the Path of the Dinosaurs #followdinopath