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Remaking my life

Saturday, August 07, 2010

It's not that I don't want to be me. It's that I want to become MORE me--more of the person I was created to be.

I've just had a wonderful week of vacation in Los Angeles visiting two beloved sisters, accompanied by a good friend who is likewise in a marital separation. In my years as a single mom I went there every year for a week or longer, & this felt like coming home to who I am. I didn't take any drawing/painting supplies this time, but I did take my notebook & wrote a number of poems. Several mornings before breakfast I went to the beach & ran/walked along the bike path. Yes, I actually ran about half of the time! I wasn't concerned about falling because, though there are seams in the path pavement, they aren't as frequent as the Chicago sidewalk seams, & thus there's less opportunity to trip. We also had a nice hike in the Malibu hills one day. And though we had three pretty substantial meals most days, & often dessert, I didn't gain any weight--probably because of the good exercise.

We also went to Olvera Street (Mexican stalls & shops), Disney Hall (just to tour it, not to hear a concert--it was designed by the wonderful architect Frank Gehry), the big beautiful Catholic cathedral (built quite recently), & a winery for a tasting followed by a picnic. In the evenings the extended family--which includes a newborn grandnephew, Lucas! he got passed around constantly--gathered to eat great homemade food & sometimes sing, sometimes play hilarious rounds of Taboo. My family is the BEST; my friend Meg felt very welcomed & included.

Laughing, singing, & exercising are three of the best endorphin producers. emoticon Days after returning home, I'm still feeling good.

So what are the ways I'm remaking my life?
1. seeing a therapist weekly--our discussions are helping me understand what happened in my marriage & how I need to grow
2. setting aside more time for good friends
3. keeping tabs on income & expenses, so as to economize & make inroads into debt
4. recovering the joy of exercise & enjoying it OFTEN
5. reducing my food intake just a bit, so I can start losing weight again

On Olvera Street I fell in love with an embroidered blouse. It's the typical Mexican style: white with short sleeves that can be gathered with light yarn looped through large stitches, & with gorgeously intricate flowers/leaves embroidered on the yoke, & a few on the back, in shades of blue. It is my symbol of my new life, which I want to be intricate, beautiful, & full of color, stitched with strong threads that God provides.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CTEMPLE 9/20/2010 1:09AM

    Dear Ruthie we must have been in LA at the same time! Glad that things are going better and there is so much hope. Life seems more like it's meant to be for you now.
Claudia (catching up with blogs)

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CHRISTYK08 8/12/2010 10:06PM

    Absolutely fabulous!

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CZARINA_TV 8/8/2010 11:46AM

    Good to hear from you! I like your new plan and your new metaphor for what you want at the end of all the crazy time. Keep it up!

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SHANSHE 8/8/2010 12:42AM

    What a lovely and gorgeous blog Ruth! I am happy for you that you enjoyed this time with family and that you are "remaking your life" becoming all that you were designed to be.

Thanks for enriching my life while you do,

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Things are actually happening

Thursday, June 17, 2010

My husband moved out last week, at last. Recently I've learned a lot about legal stuff & what I should & shouldn't do in this situation. Based on that, I made some hard choices, & not surprisingly we have ended up even further apart emotionally & spiritually. At least we're getting some resolution. It's very sad, but I feel cared for by God, my family & my church community.

Now I have the condo to myself, & it's SO peaceful & pleasant. I now have a kitty, Gizmo--my daughter asked me to take her, as she had developed life-threatening allergies to her beloved pet. Gizmo & I are getting along fine; I'm glad to have her.

I'm reclaiming my home, step by step. In the coming weeks I'll be moving my home office to a little back room (former guest room), & the living-room bay will become fully a part of the living room instead of being littered with my papers. My husband's former office will be a guest room for now; down the road I may rent it to a female friend.

The past two weekends I have done batch cooking again, & I'm really enjoying eating frugally & well. Exercise has been spotty because of some late nights, occasional insomnia, & sometimes a task that needs to be done before I take off for work in the morning. But I'm getting back on track gradually. A friend & I went contra dancing last Monday & had a great time--I will probably continue dancing every other Monday!

This is a hard time, but I'm surviving.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SUPERMOM17 7/20/2010 5:26PM

    Hi Ruth,
I haven't been on Sparkpeople for awhile, and I was just catching up, reading through your posts. I am so sorry about your Dad. My mother died May 9th, and since then I got out of the habit of going to the gym regularly - but I'm going tonight! I was also saddened to hear about your marriage, but it sounds like you are taking healthy steps given the circumstances. I wish you God's peace and blessings.

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SHANSHE 7/10/2010 2:31PM

    I hate to say this as it sounds sooo inconsiderate, but I am actually HAPPY for you! I always imagine that life is simpler without a hubby, LOL! Anyway, glad that you seem to be holding up well under the circumstances. You are awesome!

Comment edited on: 7/10/2010 2:31:41 PM

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CHRISTYK08 7/1/2010 5:42AM

    I'm glad that things are settling down and that you are reclaiming your space. You are stronger than you think and you can do more than you can imagine. emoticon

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CZARINA_TV 6/17/2010 10:30PM

    I missed you! I'm glad that you're reclaiming your space in your house and I look forward to hearing about all the cool things that you get up to... Contra dancing sounds wonderful!

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RUTHXG 6/17/2010 6:36PM

    Claudia, it's true in our case at least: my husband took up so much emotional space in our marriage with his anxieties & little tantrums that there was very little left for me! In fact, sometimes when I was sad he would get angry. Sigh.

I look forward to catching up with you & other Sparkfriends. emoticon back!

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CTEMPLE 6/17/2010 6:31PM

    Dear Ruth life is so much simpler without men. They take so much "space".
Somehow I got unsubscribed from your blog I'm sorry.
Very glad that things are starting to improve.
Claudia emoticon

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Thursday I got to go to lunch with an author whose book I edited last year, along with other members of the book team (acquiring editor & his assistant, designer/typesetter, production coordinator). Doug's book is about the Italian way of eating: family roles (who shops for food, who cooks, who cleans up), attitudes toward food, the courses in a meal, how certain traditional foods are produced, etc. He is a visual sociologist, which means he includes many photos, most of which he took himself, in the book. It's a fabulous project. Here's a link to the book if you're interested:

We ate very thin Italian-style pizza--it was delicious. And as we talked about how Italians traditionally eat, I was struck by the thought that they are able to be satisfied with less than Americans expect. Because the food is prepared with care, & because they don't stuff themselves, they enjoy food enormously but there is little obesity.

In the past couple of days I've been mulling over that thought. I want to learn to be satisfied with what my body needs & no more. I've been reminding myself, "Eat like a European & enjoy satisfaction!" It is helping.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SHANSHE 7/10/2010 2:27PM

    what a wonderful concept, lOL1

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GETHEALTHY231 5/28/2010 10:14AM

    The book looks amazing! How fun to enjoy food as a whole experience and finding that the whole experience satisfies us more than food alone.

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CZARINA_TV 5/22/2010 11:31PM

    You know, my grandma always really prepared food with love and care and all of her recipes were from scratch. That's not something we can all do, but maybe it's something to aspire to?

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CTEMPLE 5/22/2010 7:53PM

    Yes I'd like that for myself too, so hard when one is an emotional eater (like me).

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Finding my way

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

This morning I was glad to see that though I had been eating much more than usual during the week with my family, was off the exercise wagon for a couple of weeks, & hadn't dared to get on the scale, I finally did weigh myself & have gained just 1 pound since last time I was on. Whew!

I was good with cardio last week but still forgetting the daily strength training. Neglect of that makes a shocking difference in my body's fat percentage, which my scale estimates. Yesterday & today I've gotten back in the groove, & I intend to keep it up.

This is a hard time, & I have to be gentle with myself. Overall I'm sleeping remarkably well, though often I wake up a little early, sometimes with a heavy feeling from a quickly evaporating dream. I miss my dad. The separation from my husband is going to take awhile--it's frustrating not to know how long. In the meantime I'm taking care of immediate business (e.g., today I called the monument company to have them etch the date of death on my dad & mom's shared grave marker), writing thank-you notes for flowers & other condolences, working on poems, & staying close to my sisters, kids, & closest friends.

Saturday I participated in a huge "poetry cram" as part of a day of poetry festivities at the big public library in the Chicago Loop. 58 poets read 1-2 poems each in less than two & a half hours! It was more fun than it sounds. emoticon Then yesterday I remembered to go a few miles north to Evanston after work, to see the poetry display at that public library before it is taken down at the end of the month. These are poems about food & include one by me.

Poetry, prayer, spring sunshine, the love of friends & family--they all help so much.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SHANSHE 7/10/2010 2:25PM

    Good for you to taKE CARE of yourself, yaya!

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CHRISTYK08 5/8/2010 8:53PM

    I would love to see you post your poem that's been on display. emoticon

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CZARINA_TV 4/29/2010 5:06PM

    I'm glad you're keeping your head above water . It sounds like you're doing okay, all things considered... Take good care of yourself Ruth!

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TINKMCD 4/29/2010 11:51AM


Wishing you lots more of all the good things you list in this blog's final paragraph.

Glad to hear that you're being gentle with yourself as you work your way through this transition.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Unfortunately, no weight lost lately . . . my losses have been bigger. Early in the morning of April 8 my dad died. The previous morning he had had a smallish stroke at the end of his biking exercise. Later, in the hospital, he had what the doctor called a "catastrophic event"--a massive cerebral hemorrhage. They weren't the kind of strokes caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, blood clots, or other physical problems, rather a rare kind that can strike very healthy folks.

He was 82 & had lived a VERY full & fruitful life. We had a funeral in NW Arkansas, where he had been living for the past 8.5 years. Then we had another in Wheaton, outside of Chicago, because he was to be buried next to my mother, who died in 2000. My siblings & kids, in-laws, nieces & nephews, friends, & I have all been very sad, because we had been looking forward to more years of happy visits with Dad & his second wife, Jan. But our time together was precious. We cowrote the eulogy & planned both funerals--& they were beautiful & comforting.

The meeting for the Big Mysterious Hard Thing had to be postponed a week because of my bereavement, so we finally had it yesterday. It was a very hard meeting. My husband is separating from me--& I am agreeing to it because there have been some very serious long-term problems in our home. In a nutshell, (1) I have been supporting him for the 7 years of our marriage (hard times for finding jobs, especially lately, but he had quit looking long ago--nothing was good enough for him), & (2) he is highly critical & angry, prone to explode at me over the smallest disagreement or request, not in a physical way but still unacceptably harshly.

This is probably the only time I'll post anything specific about my marriage issues; generally I'm pretty private about such things & confide mainly in my sisters, closest friends, & pastor. But now you know what has been brewing. Making specific decisions about the separation & management of $$ & such will be hard; I'm not looking forward to it. I also have strong feelings of grief, failure, terrible disappointment. Still, God is good & I trust in his mercy. And I expect that soon my life will be much more peaceful day to day.

Now you can see why I haven't gotten in any real exercise for more than a week. But tomorrow I'll be back at it--probably taking a brisk early-morning walk. Actually I'm about to take a brisk afternoon walk right now! It's cool in Chicago but the sun is shining brightly.

Thanks to those of you who have dropped by to wish me well, give me goodies, or let me know you're praying for me. It means more than I can say.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SHANSHE 7/10/2010 2:23PM

    Wow, I never dreamed it would be something like that, yet, I am glad it is not some horrible health problem either. In fact, this could definitely IMPROVE your health!

I am sorry about the loss of your father, but glad he had such a full life.

I understand not talking about your marriage, things like that are personal and I pray things went well when telling your children and that life is maybe somewhat normal. I DO want you to know you are nowhere NEAR a failure. The marriage may have failed, but YOU didn't.


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CHRISTYK08 4/25/2010 7:27PM

    I'm sorry that I missed your blog of a week ago. emoticon I've been caught up in my own familial issues and still trying to figure out how to manage a household and work FT.

I have a friend who went through a similar situation a couple of years ago. You are not a failure and you deserve to be treated with kindness and respect!

Praying for you as go through these difficult days. Feel free to send me Sparkmail if you would like b/c I usually try to get to that every day.


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TINKMCD 4/25/2010 5:36PM

    Oh, Ruth.

Your comment today on my SP sent me scurrying over here to check your latest blog entry. No need to apologize for not being around much to cheer *me* on: instead, *I* want to apologize for somehow missing what was going on with you.

May your obviously warm and loving memories of your dear dad sustain you as you mourn your loss of him.

And may those peaceful post-separation days come very soon. I'm sure you don't need me to tell you that the mixture of feelings you're experiencing (grief, disappointment, and so on, as well as relief at putting those serious problems behind you) is absolutely normal. It may be a bit of a roller-coaster for a while, but I'm equally sure you'll get through it. It sounds as if you have an excellent support system in your sisters, close friends, and pastor. Along with your faith, that will stand you in good stead as you go through this process and enter a new chapter of your life.

A book that helped a dear friend cope with this particular transition was Debbie Ford's "Spiritual Divorce: Divorce as a Catalyst for an Extraordinary Life."

Most importantly, I hope you'll be as compassionate as possible with yourself. Try not to succumb to self-blame or the belief that you've somehow failed. To me, staying in a toxic relationship or environment isn't success. True success is finding the courage and determination required to admit that it isn't working for you and to decide to let it go (despite the inevitable short-term pain involved in that decision and in the logistics of separating). I hope you'll be as kind to yourself around this as you would be to a friend or one of your sisters if they were experiencing something similar.


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GETHEALTHY231 4/19/2010 10:43PM

    My heart goes out to you for so many reasons. It is hard to say goodbye to your parent, but God IS merciful and knows our sadness and is a great comfort when we know to lean on his strength to get us through. He will always get us through. I pray that he grants healing also through your separation. May his love and word guide you as you work through all of this. Trust in him and his love for you.

Much love and God bless.

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