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Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

A Little Anxious

I have not heard my internal drumbeat for quite some time. I had heard it in March and April, but then it thankfully faded. Now, this week, it started again, albeit softly. My drumbeat is my sign that I am anxious. I don’t feel too much in control and I like to be in control.

Perhaps this is a lingering PTSD effect of Isaias swinging past and we haven’t even hit active storm season. Perhaps it is a discussion board on a professional site about the gloomy future of business. Perhaps it is the hard conversation I had with my son about school expenses, my thought that his dad is struggling to meet his obligations, so my son needs to talk to the financial aid office about more money. Maybe it is a combination of all three and more.

One thing I know is that I am a trifle weary about my utter lack of social life. I am trying to dig deep into focusing on things I can control: diet, exercise, sleep and finances. I am holding back on my spending. That is always a false stress-reliever for me so when I want to buy shit, I now stop and ask why? My cozy apartment can’t hold much, so any purchase needs to be carefully analyzed. I am focused on saving, saving, saving and frugal living, but honestly, that’s boring. No razzle dazzle there, but I do like seeing my savings grow, so I need to savor that.

I need to focus on what does bring me joy these days. I need to embrace the simple pleasures. My Beachbody on Demand (BOD) has been a surprising happiness builder for me. Yesterday was rainy so I couldn’t go outside for my nightly walk. Instead I did 30 minutes of Country Western dancing. This was in addition to my morning 30-minute Barre Blend, which combines barre and Pilates. To know me is to know that I have 2 left feet, no flexibility or rhythm. BOD has been introducing me to my hips and teaching me about coordination, stretching and footwork. Plus I get to look ridiculous in the comfort of my home with no one judging me. I also get to do these workouts repeatedly on my schedule and I advance when I feel comfortable moving on. I really like that. Look out Shakira – when I find my hips, they won’t be lying!

The other thing bringing me joy these days is the simple pleasure of being able to go to an office and be around people. This week is a trifle boring because I am in a lull with most of my projects. I have a few interesting things to do and some not so interesting, but I am around pleasant people all day without pressure.

I am reading a good book. Finished another last night. I have listened to some interesting podcasts. I have a weekly Zoom Toastmasters and this week I have a Zoom bingo night with another professional group. I am sleeping well. I just wish I could go to dinner or brunch with some girlfriends. I wish I had some girlfriends up here. The pandemic quashed all my plans of developing a social network up here.

Part of my internal drumbeat of anxiety is what I am seeing and hearing out of my professional networks. A tsunami of more layoffs and shutdowns is coming. Companies are distributing boxes to employees so they can pack up and work from home permanently, however, as those employees drive off the company knows most will never return. Lots of companies are closing up offices as of the end of September to coincide with the end of the third quarter. More will close up in December so horrific write-offs can be done for 2020. This will enable companies to potentially salvage 2021 after shedding everything possible.

Add to that mess the fact that as a woman over 55 years old, if I am laid off, I will be the last hired. Age and gender discrimination ratchet up during times such as these. Don’t believe me? Go read the studies. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/bye-boomer-the-coming-cull-of-workers-over-50-2020-07-29

For now let me be thankful for what I have. I am thankful for my job, my work colleagues, my cozy apartment, my growing savings, my health and much more. I am very lucky to have what I have.

Boring is Good

This week I have felt bored. Life is ho hum. Then Taz gave me a wake up call. We had a long chat and she was filling me in on news from friends and my Ex’s family. Wow – talk about drama.

This friend’s mom had two heart attacks. The friend is trying to finish school and her fiancé was transferred to an out of state job. Another friend’s grandparent passed leaving behind an autistic son with metastatic lung cancer. The friend’s mom is now nursing her brother while he battles pneumonia and lung cancer. The same friend is dealing with a boyfriend who has accepted a job promotion and transfer.

Then my Ex had some serious drama with his fiancée’s daughters. Long story, I won’t go into it, but I felt bad for the guy. Really bad.

It was just drama, drama, drama. Wow. I have never been so grateful to be ordinary and dull. Thank you, Karma. You won’t hear a peep of complaint from me. Not a single peep. I am ever so grateful for all I have. Now let me drag my ordinary self to bed in my cozy, simple apartment.

2020 Simply Sucks

Taz called today to check in. She had sent me a tub of banana pudding from the world-famous Magnolia Bakery and I had sent her a series of really funny pictures ending with one of me with my cheeks puffed out like a chipmunk because my mouth was full of that amazing pudding.

After we chuckled about that, discussed my health and lack of test results, she segued way to what she really needed to talk to me about.

“Mom, did you ever have a miscarriage or problems conceiving?” My heart sank. No, I had been blessed. Taz was not. She miscarried at about 4 weeks and had to have a d&c.

We talked about it. She is hesitant to tell a lot of people. She is not telling her dad. I told her that this is her story to tell and I won’t share it with anyone. I mentioned her aunts by marriage had struggled. I mostly listened. That’s what she wanted. No platitudes because they never work with her and I find them to be a trifle condescending.

This had happened about 2-3 weeks ago. She had felt a bit broken at the time and didn’t feel up to talking to me about it. She talked about having genetic testing afterwards and she’s fine on that front. Her doctor reminded her that a third of pregnancies end like this. She said twice that it had not reached the stage of having a heartbeat.

That hurt. When your strong daughter repeats something like that, you know that it is the mantra she is using to try to put it behind her. Her husband was crushed. My heart aches for them.

“2020 absolutely fucking sucks,” I spit out. “The only damn good news has been your fellowship.” Now, I know there are a lot more good things in my life, but at that moment I felt the searing pain of all that she has endured this year. The stress of fighting for her prestigious fellowship, working a COVID ICU when she had no training for it, the stress of the pandemic in general, struggling to keep her and her hubby safe from the virus. She has been through so much.

I knew that they wanted to try for a baby this year. I had not asked if it was put on hold due to the pandemic. That is none of my business. Now this news answered my unspoken question. They had hope. They have the love, courage and strength to bring life into this crazy world.

Tonight I am so sad. So sad that these two amazing people are going through yet another difficult time. It is always so hard to watch your kids suffer and only be able to wring my hands on the sidelines. I say a prayer for Taz and her hubby. May their hearts heal.

Birthday Reflections

My best writing and thinking takes place early in the morning with a cup of coffee for company.  I wrote all of this while on vacation and am just getting around to transcribing and editing my handwritten notes.

I had a lazy day on the couch during my vacation.  I simply vegged either in front of the TV or on the front porch with a book in my lap.  I think it was because my mind was examining some big questions and needed the time and space.  Here are some of the topics I examined:

  • The repercussions of being single with limited nearby friends during a pandemic.  This issue has resolved itself somewhat.  Friends, family and coworkers have stepped up to volunteer assistance should I need it.  I am blessed and thankful.
  • Now that cases are escalating exponentially, working in the office, even with a mask is a bit fraught to say the least.  No shit, Sherlock.  I wrote this BEFORE I realized I might have been exposed and before Florida hit over 15K cases in a single day.
  • Vacations for the next few years will be limited for many reasons.  I do not see myself flying anywhere unless there is a damn good reason.  Rats because I yearn to travel.
  • What and where will retirement look like for me?  That is always a question for me.  I like to plan and this is the biggest unknown for me.  My pragmatic side hates the uncertainty of this.  I just need to accept that I have limited control over this.  I need to identify what I can control and focus on those things.  A topic for another post.
  • Can I handle a decade of my boss who can be a handful on occasion?  This is looking like it will be my last full-time job if all goes well.  I believe the answer is yes.  Everyone has their moments of questioning their employment.  Will the company navigate this recession successfully and without major layoffs?  Too soon to say….

I wrote all of this as I sat outside on the front porch of my parents’ mountain home.  It was a beautiful morning.  I listened to the birds and watched the chipmunks scurry around the yard.  I turned 56 this year.  I am pensive because I am on the downhill slide to 60.  LOL.

I have a decade of full-time work left in me, hopefully.  A decade to save and plan my retirement.  A decade to make a home in my new community so I can decide if I stay or leave during my golden years.

I am happy having my free time be for just me.  I am happy to be doing little to no compromising these days.  It is a first in my life.  I have spent a lifetime compromising and letting loved ones’ needs come before my own. 

Birthdays are a great time for reflection.  50 years ago I was a young girl living about 2 hours from this mountain home.  My parents were in the midst of splitting up.  My mom had a breakdown and was hospitalized for a few days.  My dad was having an affair with his now current wife of almost 50 years. It was 1970 and all the adults in my life were acting in self-centered ways to the detriment of me and my older brother.  My mom was a borderline personality.  She claimed their psychiatrist labeled my dad a sociopath.  Let’s not get hung up on labels and let’s just generalize it and call them both selfish.

The result of selfish parents, for me, was to counter balance with over-giving.  I have always given too much.  Too much time doing for others, too much time putting others before me, too much time for futile causes, too much money for others rather than saving for myself, too much, too much.

Now I am learning to value myself and my time.  I am learning the value of no and boundaries.  It is a bit uncomfortable to express those boundaries, but each time I flex that muscle, it becomes stronger and easier.  I look forward to it becoming more effortless and less guilt and anxiety producing.  When I first wrote out the previous sentence, I wrote it as a limiting belief “I am never going to think…”.  As I transcribed my handwritten notes, I recognized the limiting belief.  That is a minor victory!

I feel safe these days.  I feel like I have navigated my little lifeboat into a tiny, safe harbor while a storm of catastrophic proportions rages around me.  I feel small when looking at the vastness of chaos all around me. I know this single year of 2020 is a turning point in history, yet I will carry on having normal days of work and home.  I am very fortunate.

I also feel incredibly fortunate to have my little boat safely anchored.  I now longer strive to have trappings of success like expensive clothes, car and a fancier home. Minimal suits me far better. I am happy in my cozy oasis of an apartment.  I may decide to redecorate.  I need to do something with my grandmother’s dining room set.  I think I will get it refinished.  Maybe change the seat covers even though she needlepointed them all.  Perhaps I will frame them instead or just store them for the kids. Fewer belongings mean fewer ties and responsibilities.

I have led an incredibly interesting life compared to many.  Yes, I know many others who are even more interesting and that’s fine. I am no longer competing.  I am content to realize I will always have a story, an experience, an understanding for almost any conversation.  That is an accomplishment.  I also have learned to be a good listener and appreciate the stories and experiences of others.

I have kids who are simply amazing.  I listened, on vacation, to my son’s friend tell him how amazing my son is for living in Asia for a year.  What an accomplishment that few people have achieved.  My son felt and looked rejuvenated and recharged from this vacation.  He needed it as much, if not more, than me.

My daughter is in a league of her own.  Finding her soul mate has made her journey easier.  Their communication with each other is light years ahead of my relationship communication.  She is still wrestling with conforming to society norms.  I continue to encourage her to follow her heart without guilt.  What do I mean by that?

For example, she has discovered she doesn’t like to teach.  I get it.  Her patience is a precious commodity.  She feels guilty because her residency program has encouraged her to teach others, but it is not in her DNA.  I asked her how many doctors of her specialty teach and she responded less than 20%. I replied that her mentors knew from the beginning that the odds were against them for her to teach.  I said she shouldn’t sweat it. 

Perspective – perhaps that is my best gift to friends and family.  I offer gentle perspective when appropriate.  Blunt, but I also hold back at times.  It is a nuanced diplomacy that I have been blessed with.

There you have it.  Maggie’s morning reflections on a porch swing with delicious coffee….

Photo by Jeb Buchman on Unsplash

Vacay – Part II

I was being lazy after my son left and hung around the cabin. My birthday was the final part of my trip. My son had guiltily left the day before (I didn’t need or want guilt about his departure). My dad and stepmom planned to hang with me for the birthday afternoon and evening, then we would all leave the next day. A short, but sweet visit with them.

Until I got the Happy Birthday text from my GF at work. She called me. She may have COVID. However, I have been directly exposed not only through work, but she gave me a ride to the car rental and we didn’t wear masks. Sigh.

I immediately cancelled my afternoon rendezvous with the parents. My dad then said what I was thinking. Go home. Immediately. So much for my birthday. Fortunately I don’t get hung up on that type of stuff. My poor dad had gotten me a cake. Sweet thing.

There were multiple reasons for immediate action. I didn’t want to get too sick to drive. I didn’t want to further contaminate their house. I had to pass a Florida checkpoint, so I needed to be reasonably healthy for that. If I am going to be sick, I want to be home.

I packed up, washed the sheets, wiped down the house with my Clorox bleach spray and hit the road. Shortly after midnight I was tired, but home and the car was unloaded.

Today I slept in, returned the rental, picked up some groceries, made an extra key to my apartment. I am ready. I received official notice from work (via my GF who is HR) that I am not to return to work for another week. I am to work from home.

This will be interesting. I am waiting to speak to my boss who does not like WFH at all, even though she does it successfully when on a deadline. I have my laptop with me and I don’t need much else.

With the logistics all in place, let’s talk about me. How do I feel? No fever, my neck is a bit achy, I have a mild headache and a slight dry cough. Sounds ominous doesn’t it? I called Taz. Not much to be done at this point. I am scheduling my own COVID test right now. No sense in waiting if I already have mild symptoms.

Am I scared? Not yet. I do want to know if I have it. I am very worried for my GF. She donated a kidney to a family member a couple of years ago.

Like Tom Petty says, the waiting is the hardest part. Sigh.

Photo by Morgan Lane on Unsplash

Vacay – Part I

Vacay has been nice. I enjoyed the company of my son and his friends. They are smart, well-mannered guys. We sat around with a beer and discussed adult stuff. I enjoyed their opinions and stories. I think they enjoyed listening to my stories and thoughts as well.

We did a couple of low key hikes ending with a picnic. The boys took one day to hike something more strenuous while I hung around the cabin reading and relaxing.

They all left a day or so before me. I spent most of one day home alone. Initially I thought I would go walk around my favorite lake, but instead I have puttered around the cabin.

I am feeling a trifle blue, but at first I didn’t know why. As I thought about it, I think my minor funk is more about this never-ending pandemic. Before I left, two work colleagues reached out because they lost their jobs. I have tried to ignore the real world, but I see the surge of COVID cases in Florida and sigh.

How long will I have to abstain from activities, restaurants and the like? I think it will be 2 years. Taz agrees. I don’t want to be one of the first getting a vaccine. I want someone else to be the guinea pig.

Two years of limited socializing. Two years of probably not expanding my social circle with new girlfriends. I am doubtful I will be able to do any group lessons for any activity.

So that is why I have a funk today. It’s OK. My dad is popping in to celebrate my birthday.

Not my hike, but we saw similar beauty…

Here & Now

What’s missing? That is the feeling that has been rattling around in the back of my mind.  It didn’t materialize until I put pen to paper.  What is missing these days?

The answer for me is social occasions.  Forming new friendships with women in my new town.  That was my top 2020 goal and now a formidable one.

I am not lonely, but I do want to broaden my social circles.  My Zoom Toastmasters helps.  I did a pleasant Zoom Meetup with a women’s group.  We had 5 on the call and it was nice.  I had been seeing the Hunter every weekend. I talk to my kids frequently and check in with my dad and BFF weekly.  Plus I have an office of friendly coworkers for idle chitchat and lunch. I cannot complain.

However, I am looking 10 years out to my retirement.  Holy shit, I only have about 10-14 years to go.  Crap, I am getting old.  What is my retirement going to look like?  Will I move close to Taz to help her with the grandkids?  My dad advocates for that.  I am happy to help.  I would love to do something like help run the marketing for her medical practice or help oversee the management side of things.  That would keep me busy, but that is the future.  What is here and now?

Here and now is no Meetups, no clubs, no concerts, no festivals, no beach, etc.  Here and now is a brilliantly beautiful day with cool air wafting on my bare legs.  Birds chirping, traffic humming past.  Here and now is a delicious cup of coffee.

Instead of searching for the missing, let me have a moment of pure gratitude.  I am so grateful for everything I have:

  • My kids – they are wonderful, accomplished and a source of joy, not grief or angst.
  • My cozy apartment – it’s cute, perfect for me.  It has nice, upgraded appliances,  granite countertops, a nice balcony with a pleasant view.  My apartment is filled with decor and furniture I selected.  It is a trifle eclectic, but very comfortable and I like it.
  • My job and steady paycheck – something I will never take for granted.
  • My health – I am strong, healthy with absolutely no issues other than my weight.  My thyroid may be a bit wonky, but I am taking no medications and feel great.
  • Friends and family – I have people in my life who love me and who I love in return. No drama – what a blessing.

I am so incredibly lucky and blessed.  My only debt is my car, which is very manageable and soon to be paid off.  This time last year I was in such a panic.  I had over $40K of debt and little income.  I was praying night & day that I would get this job because there was nothing else in sight.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring?  All I know is that today is a blessing and I am happy with all that I have.  I need to remain present and not fret about the future.  I am missing nothing, not a damn thing.



Mother’s Day 2020

I have ranted about Mother’s Day in the past.  You can read a rant here.  I recognize that my mothering woes are nothing like those facing moms today.  My heart goes out to all of you.  The world we are living in rapidly skittered to something never seen before.

As mom, you somehow have to keep your shit together even while home schooling, feeding, cleaning plus worrying about finances, job security or lack thereof, work if you are lucky enough to have it.  Wow, it truly blows my mind.

I salute you all.  Please be kind to yourself, be forgiving and all that self-care stuff because we need you.

Peace & love,


The reality of family photos… Photo by Jose Escobar on Unsplash

The Amazing Taz

Taz turned 30 this week. I also have to brag about my amazing daughter. She was selected for one of the most prestigious fellowships for her specialty.  It was her first pick and it is an amazing achievement, but then again she is an amazing woman.

I was reflecting over the weekend about her birth and decided it was time to jot down my memory of her birth.  It has moments of sheer hilarity.  I was 26 years old when she was born.  My life at that stage was

  1.  married for three years;
  2. I had just started a new job as an administrative assistant for a lovely father/2 son company that would wind up launching me in my profession for the next 25+ years
  3. we had just purchased our first home

Within 2-1/2 years, going into the future, I will survive a direct hit from Hurricane Andrew, switched to my then-new profession and come to the realization that I had a very shitty marriage to a guy who is a good provider and dad.  But I am getting ahead of myself.  This post is about Taz’s actual birth – all 36 hours of labor.  Yep, 36 hours of contractions less than 3 minutes apart.  OK, OK, hard labor was only about 8 hours.

The first mild contraction was while I was fixing tacos for dinner.  Taz had the decency to be extremely punctual and start labor on her due date.  I paused as I was cooking and thought, “I think that was a contraction.” Then I looked at my tacos and thought, “Shit, I am eating my tacos and I’ll tell then husband (TH) about the contractions afterwards.”  Good call.

We timed the contractions carefully.   When they were 2-3 minutes apart, we hustled to the hospital and got sent home in rookie disgrace with instructions to go see my OB in the office at noon. WTF – I am having a baby, people.  You think I am still going to be in labor for 12 more hours?!

We showed up at noon ready to proceed directly to the hospital.  Nope, he checks me and sends me home AGAIN.  I asked the doctor how I would know it was time.  He described it as a band tightening across my stomach like an Indian sunburn— remember those? I blanched but asked if I could eat.  Food is always key, isn’t it?  Sure but keep it light.

Around midnight it was time once again.  TH had the brilliant idea I should take a shower before we left.  Yeah, I should have done it earlier because full fledged contractions in the shower was no picnic.  Plus I really had not slept much at all for 36 hours at that point.

At this point my water had not broken.  We get to the hospital and I am admitted.  Hooray!  We are having a baby! Taz was born when hospitals had just introduced the concept of birthing suites, which were really expensive.  I was cheap, so my labor was in a room with another young woman.  I was not a good roommate. They timed these roomie situations so each patient is at different stages.  My roomie needed to push.  What a sissy.  As her hubby and nurses urged her to push, she kept crying she couldn’t.

Meanwhile I am in active labor with no epidural.  The anesthesiologist had an emergency (more on that later), so I was having strong contractions every 2 minutes while watching the movie, “The Hindenburg”.  Yes, I am a blimp trying to explode watching an actual blimp explode.  The irony of this was hilarious….afterwards.

After 20-30 minutes of listening to my roomie whimper and cry that she couldn’t push, I was done.  The Hindenburg, no drugs, her whimpering… I loudly said something along the lines of “Suck it up, Buttercup, because you are having a baby one way or another.” That brought my labor nurse hustling over with a gleam and chuckle in her eyes.

I was scolded, however, I loudly replied that roomie’s baby was coming so she might as well stop crying and push.  I think I added something along the lines of “I will shut up when I get my epidural.”

I ended up having the highly desired epidural for only about 2-3 hours.  When the anesthesiologist finally walked in, I was all over him.  “Where have you been?!” Keep in mind it is about 3 or 4 am.

He did have a legit emergency.  A woman who had no idea she was carrying twins went into labor early and had one baby naturally and the other via C-section. I never knew you could do that!  She was my post-labor roomie.  Very nice postal worker who was stunned about the whole situation:  twins, early delivery — wow.

Anyway, the epidural was heaven and I dozed off for a little while.  I had the room to myself because the nurses didn’t dare give me another roommate.  Meanwhile my TH was holding court in the hospital cafeteria.  How do I know?  Because there is a friggin’ video of him holding a cup of coffee and laughingly toasting me.  Something to the extent of “while you are rolling around in pain, I am here!”.  Asshole.

Taz was the first grandchild so EVERYBODY was there.  While I had been home, we kept getting folks calling and my TH could not understand why I didn’t want to talk to anyone.  At the hospital we had TH’s three siblings, their spouses, his parents, my mom and stepdad.  I did appreciate all the love and support, but I just didn’t want to see or talk to any of them.

Finally it was time to push.  After a couple of tries, the labor nurse tells me that it will go better if they turn the epidural off.  OK, I am ready.  Turn it off and let’s rock.  The next hour was a lot of work.  Somewhere, I don’t remember when, my water finally broke.  TH is hovering and completely useless.  He kept flittering out to smoke and update the family.  Finally it was time to move me to the delivery room.

Birthing suites are fantastic.  Because moving me when I was trying to push a bowling ball out of my lady parts did not go well for several reasons:

  1. My bed got stuck.  Due to my aforementioned outspokenness with my former roomie and no subsequent replacement, we had spread out and the result was somehow my bed not having enough space to roll out.  After ramming into several objects including a wall, we finally made it into the hallway.
  2. TH made everyone pause in the hallway so he could get his gown and booties on.  My nurse had to park me in the hallway to help him.  Everyone is yelling  telling me not to push.
  3. Finally we get to the Delivery Room and they tell me to shift over to a delivery table.  Are you serious?  Move?  I did.  I have no idea how.  Once again, birthing suites are phenomenal.

I am on the table, my doctor strolls in and the anesthesiologist returns to hook up my epidural for the final moments.  I recall asking the anesthesiologist how much he was charging for this superfluous anesthesia.  He stammered and I then instructed him to adjust the mirror so I could see my baby’s birth.  The rest of the room was laughing.  I was highly entertaining.

Taz’s birth was then straightforward.  She popped out with only a minor episiotomy and the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck.  That mirror was handy.  I saw the cord and immediately started clamoring.  My doctor had deftly flicked the cord off, but too late.  I had seen everything.  He immediately assured me the cord had been very loose.  Taz’s color was that dark red purplish color that is perfectly normal, but I am a new mother, so what do I know?  I know about blue babies.

“Is she blue, is she blue?  What is her Apgar score?”  My doctor reassures me that all is well.  He was right all was well.

Here we are 30 years later and Taz is quite the accomplished woman.  I am such a proud mama.  Happy Birthday, you beautiful, amazing woman….


Photo by Hu Chen on Unsplash


Easters Past

I have never been a religious person even though my mom’s side of the family was Southern Baptist and Evangelicals. I never liked Easter when I was growing up because 1) I was somehow seemingly always sick (hay fever, allergies, etc) 2) I hated hard boiled eggs at the time 3) Easter outfits and church were not my thing.

As a parent, I still celebrated Easter but we morphed it into more of a family pool party. My Ex was one of four kids, so with just his family and their kids, we could have a rollicking party. I always got all the kids pool toys. We has a fun egg hunt in the yard. It was noisy, wet and loads of fun. I remember those parties fondly. They were a lot of work, but so worthwhile.

One recent memorable Easter was the year I surprised Taz. Easter and her birthday coincided. Her future MIL suggested I come up, so we conspired together and completely surprised her. It was a lovely weekend.

Today my Easter is just another quiet day on my balcony enjoying the breeze and fresh air. No pool, no beach. Just the fond memories of Easters past. And I am fine with that. I have talked to all my loved ones and they are well. That makes this a lovely day.

I have been to Rio de Janeiro twice. What a magical city.

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