MLI Discussion: The Ring

Posted on January 13, 2010. Filed under: divorce, MLI Discussions | Tags: , , , , , , |

I was home alone.  I was sitting at the top of the stairs.  And I was bawling — er, whaling like a banshee.  My wedding ring was gone.  I was sure of it; I’d looked everywhere.

It was 2005 and I had been married for almost three years.  We were expecting a baby in just a few months.  I was enjoying a fantastic pregnancy and was a happy mommy-to-be.  My pregnancy was so delightful that I rarely had any “crazy pregnant lady” moments.  But this was one of them.

I retraced my steps a hundred times.  I unscrewed drain pipes, pulled back carpeting – YES!, pulled back carpeting.  I pulled all of my clothes out of all of my drawers.  I dumped my baskets full of toiletries.  If that ring was in that house, I would have found it. 

After hours of frantic searching, I collapsed to the floor and the tears began to fall.  Thinking back on that day, I remember feeling like I had lost an absolutely irreplacable possession.  This wasn’t about the diamond.  My ex purchased the ring when he was waiting tables at Bob Evan’s.  It was a beautiful ring, but the monetary value was minimal. 

My attachment to the ring was in what it symbolized:  It was the day he proposed to me while I was in my pajamas.  It was shopping for my fairy-tale wedding dress.  It was the moment he slid it on my finger before all of our friends and family.  It was our first apartment, our new home, our unborn baby — all captured in that circle that belonged around my bare left ring finger. 

I can clearly remember feeling like I didn’t know how to go on without that ring.  A replacement just wouldn’t do.  I spent the next 24 hours replaying the day before in my head.  When did I last have it on?  Where was I when I took it off?  What did I do with it? 

I could picture myself setting it on the bathroom counter before my shower.  WHY WASN’T IT THERE!?  And then, as though God had decided I’d been tortured enough, it came to me.  I ran up the stairs, pulled my maternity jeans from the upper shelf in my closet, and the ring fell on the floor in front of me.  The jeans had been sitting on the bathroom counter when I took the ring off.  Unknowningly, I had set the ring on the jeans and it slid down into the cuff of the pants. 

All was right with the world.

Two and a half years after splitting with my ex, that ring sits in my jewelry box.  I keep thinking I’ll sell it, but never get around to it. 

I have a new passion for life and I welcome all of the opportunities that await me in this new chapter.  I thank God everyday for leading me to Doug, the perfect partner, best friend and love for me.  Yet, the ring is still symbolic of all the same things it was when I wore it.  Only now, it takes on a new meaning as it serves as a reminder that there was good in my marriage.  My husband, and our union, was important to me.  I do not view those years as a waste, and maintaining this perspective helps me be the best mom I can to our son.

 

Do you still have your wedding ring?  If so, why do you keep it?  What do you plan to do with it? 

If you got rid of it, what was the thinking behind that decision – and if you sold it, was it worth it?

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Thankful This Thursday: My Life

Posted on January 7, 2010. Filed under: Thankful This Thursday | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Every day that passes, I become more grateful for the blessings in my life.  I haven’t always had such an appreciative spirit.  When I was a kid and into my early twenties, honestly, I think I was a bit of a brat.  And even once I had matured beyond that point, I still spent more time and energy wishing I had more than being grateful for what I had.  But over the past few years, I’ve learned to count my blessings.

What I didn’t expect, as I began to give thanks and praise, was that my blessings would multiply!  I have a very full life.  I am constantly trying to accomplish more than one person should in a given day/week/month/year.  And when I fall short, I know it’s because I have so many good things going on.

I have an awesome little kid, an amazing boyfriend, a family who I (usually) can’t get enough of and some really fantastic friendships.  I have a great job, beautiful home and food on the table.  I have hobbies and talents and passions.  I couldn’t possibly list all of the things that I’m grateful for — mostly because I’d accidentally leave things out.

So after closing on another holiday season and while opening a new year, I am feeling particularly grateful for my wonderful life.  I’ve therefore decided to share my appreciation on MLI in a weekly post called Thankful This Thursday.

This Thursday, I’m thankful for my life.  Next Thursday, I’ll be more specific.

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Divorce Guilt, Overcome

Posted on December 9, 2009. Filed under: divorce | Tags: , , , , , , , |

The question had been on the tip of my tongue for two years.  I just couldn’t bring myself to ask it.

Ex-Husband and I had always gotten along pretty well.  We bickered, sure – mostly because everything the other did was so annoying!  We criticized each other, lacked interest in each other’s stories and we totally did not get each other’s humor.  But we got along.  In fact, our friends teased us about how well we got along.  Perhaps it was because we didn’t care enough not to.

Until November 2006 — the beginning of a very bad year. Somehow, in the throes of new parenthood, I regained a sense of self that I had lost to my relationship with Ex-Husband years prior.   Through this process I realized that we got along because I kept my mouth shut.  For nearly ten years, I swallowed my feelings of discontent until they built up and morphed into feelings of resentment and despair.

When I told Ex-Husband that I wasn’t happy in our marriage, he was shocked.  It was the hardest thing I ever had to do.  I felt so guilty.  After all, he was a good man and he loved me very much.

We spent a year trying to figure it out; trying to make it work.  We tried counseling, vacationing (together and apart), changing behaviors, communicating — we did it all.  (We had a baby, for Pete’s sake!  Fixing it was the only option.)  But once I admitted to myself that I was not happy, there was no turning back.  I didn’t belong in that marriage.  That year, we didn’t get along so well.  Hey, at least we knew we cared.

From the time I had my mind made up about needing to move on, until the time I told Ex-Husband, about a month had passed.  I tried to tell him sooner, but I couldn’t form the words.  I barely slept that month.  My stomach was in knots and I probably lost ten pounds.  But then the day came.  I couldn’t hold it in any longer.

I sat down across from him at the dining room table.  “I think we should talk about divorce.”  He lowered his laptop screen and looked at me deadpan.  I went on, “I don’t see how we can go on anymore, do you?”

“Not if it’s going to be like this, no.”

It was sad to hear, but also a relief.  I was relieved that he didn’t put up a fight, or beg me to stay.  That would have just made it harder, though the outcome would have remained unchanged.

I had spent the past year feeling guilty that I was breaking his heart.  And that guilt never subsided.

The next two months were the worst.  We still lived together; him on the sofa, me in the king-sized bed alone.  Tension began to run high.  It was awkward, more than anything.  And I felt guilty.

Now it’s been over two years since we sat at the dining room table and “The Divorce Talk.”  We’ve been through a lot in that time.  Ex-Husband and I have a respectful relationship and work well together as co-parents.  We have given our son the most positive environment a child of divorce could hope for.  But all this time, I’ve been feeling guilty.

About a month ago, Ex-Husband and I got together to discuss our parenting schedule.  During that lunch, the question finally jumped off the tip of my tongue and there it was.  Out there.  For him to respond to.

“Do you hate me?”

“No, I don’t hate you.  I wasn’t happy at first, and I was hurt, but I think it was for the best.  We are both better off now.  We’re happy; Braden’s happy.  That’s what matters.  Honestly, I think the divorce invigorated me.  I feel so much more alive now.”

Thank God.  So do I.

Related posts on MLI:

Old Lauren

a beautiful love

Overstimulated

My Journey of Self Repair and Renewal

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A New Perspective on Giving and Giving Praise

Posted on December 2, 2009. Filed under: Life Lessons | Tags: , , , , |

I am a lazy philanthropist.  Given the choice, I’ll give with my wallet before I give of my time. I’m not proud of it; it’s just a fact.  So when the company I work for announced our “social responsibility” outing to Feed My Starving Children, I was looking forward to some team-building time away from the office with my co-workers.  I was certainly happy to help out, but had no idea the impact it would have on me.

Feed My Starving Children is a Christian non-profit organization, whose mission is “feeding God’s starving children, hungry in body and spirit.”

Founded in 1987, FMSC began its operation in Minnesota.  The founders partnered with Cargil and General Mills to develop nutritional, transportable, and affordable food, now called Manna Pack Rice, that is made especially for FMSC.  The food product is a mix of rice, soy, vegetables and a vegetarian-based chicken flavoring with vitamins and minerals, packed as six-serving portions – each portion a meal.  In order to ensure that every possible penny was going back to feeding the children, FMSC also sought to develop a cost-effective means of producing and distributing the meals “in quantities that would make a real difference in alleviating world hunger.”

And that’s where we come in – the packing volunteers. Children and adults volunteer their time to pack food at four permanent facilities (located in MN and IL) and a “MobilePack” unit that travels the U.S.  This unique approach requires that people give of their time as well as their wallet.  The two-hour packing shifts are scheduled all day, every day – except, of course, for Sunday.  Which is clearly an efficient method of production, as FMSC puts 94% of charitable gifts into the food program.  (The other 6% is used for administration and fundraising.)  To put this into perspective, charities are considered on par at about 70%.

Did you know that 18,000 children die of starvation EVERY DAY!? Children in poverty-stricken countries are eating rocks, YES rocks, to stave off hunger.  And then, of course, dying from it.

I saw things I’m glad I saw, despite wishing I didn’t have to see them. Because it opened my eyes.  I recently posted on Twitter that “I make a good living for someone my age, if you added a spouse or subtracted a child.”  Today I posted, “I’m fortunate I can feed my son.  And I will help others feed their children, too.”

I was moved by this experience.  This year, money is tight — but I can get off my butt and give in this way instead.  In our two-hour shift, 34 volunteers packed 59 boxes of food, totaling 12,744 meals that will feed 35 starving children for year.  I, personally, packed an entire year’s worth of meals for one starving child!

And then I came home and told my four-year-old son about it.  We looked through the brochures together and talked about how we are blessed and fortunate and it is important that we take care of those who are less-so.

The two hours spent at Feed My Starving Children not only gave a starving child a chance to live a healthy life, but it also gave me a chance to re-evaluate mine.

When we sat down to dinner tonight, for the first time ever, we prayed.

If you are interested in learning more about Feed My Starving Children, would like to make a donation or volunteer to pack food, please visit their website.  http://www.fmsc.org.  You won’t regret it.

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My Bucket List

Posted on November 27, 2009. Filed under: Extras! | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

This week, blogs across America are all about Thanksgiving plans, food, family, drama and, of course, gratitude. I, too, thank the Lord for my blessings and have shown gratitude to friends and family, today and every day. But right now, I’m just thankful to be on my sofa with my laptop and a glass of wine.

While I have plenty to be thankful for, dare I say that there is also so much more that I desire? I’m not talking about a flat screen TV or a MacBook (I’ll let you guess which was for literary emphasis and which is truly something on my wish list). I’m talking about what I hope to get out of life. Seeing that I’m only, well, young, I think it’s fair for me to aspire to and hope for more, even on Thanksgiving.

I had an exchange today that got me thinking about my “bucket list.” So I figured I’d share it with you. With no chronological order implied, here’s a list of the things I hope to do before I kick it:

1. See each of the 50 Nifty United States. And I don’t mean drive through, or even stop for gas. I have to actually stay there with the intent to experience something in that state for it to count. (Last I counted, I think I was at 20.)

2. Earn a living writing about something that matters. Y’know, like bucket lists.

3. Become a family with Braden, a man I love and his children. That’s about all I’m going to say on this item.

4. Finish my Master’s degree. I have only four classes left, so this one should be in the bag.

5. Bring my invention to life. Currently, it resides in my head. I have no idea how to do anything about it, so for now it will remain where it’s been for two plus years: 123 Lauren’s Brain, Laurenville, USA.

6. Raise my son to be strong-willed enough to go after what he wants and not be walked on or taken advantage of, but compassionate and considerate as well. Lucky for me, I have a great partner in my quest to accomplish this goal.

7. Start my own magazine. Seriously. In about a million years, but seriously.

8. See a Cubs game at Fenway Park. Uh-huh, I called it a “Cubs” game. (You thought I was going to say “see a Cubs World Series win,” didn’t you? This is MY bucket list, not the Cubs’!)

9. Achieve financial freedom to the extent that I am without debt, able to provide for my son, enjoy my life and give back to those who made it possible.

10. Visit the towns in England where my ancestors lived, and the towns in Germany where my dad and his family lived.

11. Learn how to speak French. And if I pull that off…

11a. Visit France. All of it.

Okay, after actually putting that on paper, I’ve realized how short – and achievable – my list is. I think I’m going to get started on it.

Tomorrow…

What’s on your list?

Coincidently, a blogger you’ve seen around MLI, Jamey Stegmaier, wrote a related post today: “What I’d Do If 2012 Were Real,” proving he’s a much deeper thinker than I am. Check it out!

Previous MLI posts related to My Bucket List:

An Awesome Little Team

My Contribution (This is why I blog.)

Wine

Four


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