Thursday, September 29, 2011

Childish Enthusiasm

Alright, people... It's time to break out the Party Hats!!
My birthday is coming up on Tuesday.
I will be turning 36 years old.  

My whole life, I have always heard that people "should not ask a woman her age." Whatever. I can't change time. I figure that considering all of the things I've been through, I am doing pretty well for my age. In fact, it seems that no matter how old I get, I still get excited about my birthday.

I joke around about it being a National Holiday (still working on that),
but really... I am just excited that I've made it this far. 
I've been to a lot of places, but there is still so much more to do!

That is why, every year, around the end of September,
I start telling people that my birthday is coming up.
Yes, I act like a child.
Why not? I'm not hurting anyone!

Although I've run out of fingers to hold up to show people my age,
I still love to hear the words, "Happy Birthday!"
I love chocolate cake and ice cream.
I love loud music, sugar highs, and adult beverages.

I enjoy gifts, but for me, that isn't what my birthday is about.

I just want to celebrate!
I want to do something fun!
Just for one day, I want to stop worrying about money.
I want to forget being responsible.
I want to grab life with both hands and enjoy the wild ride for what it is.

I still dream of skydiving, racing cars, flying fighter jets, riding bulls, and fighting fires.

For one day, I just don't want to feel bogged down by the everyday stuff that life consists of.
I need to embrace my childish enthusiasm for living!!

Unfortunately, because I am turning 36 years old, and my birthday landed on a Tuesday, I still have to be the responsible adult that I don't want to be.

I'll get out of bed, pour my coffee and drive into work.
I'll spend the entire day answering the phone; just wishing the people on the other end would just acknowledge that it is my birthday.
Seriously, how could they NOT know???
I'll do my job until 5pm, and then drive home.


I hope that when your birthday rolls around, you don’t hide that fact, and lie about your age.
We all have amazing lives that should be embraced.
Every day is a gift to be cherished.
Of all days, your birthday is a day to celebrate.

So, the next time people laugh at me for being so excited about my birthday, I’m just going to look at them and ask, “Aren’t you excited to celebrate your life? Because, I’m excited about mine!!”

Monday, September 26, 2011

It's Fall Y'all

Autumn is my favorite time of year. It always has been, even as a child.

Springtime is lovely, with the flowers and the earth bursting with new growth.
I love the warmth of the summer, and when I lived in Florida, I loved going to the ocean whenever possible.
Winter is fine, if we can get enough snow to go sledding.

But none of these seasons warm me on the inside the way autumn does. So, I've decided to list off some of the reasons that I love, love, love this time of year... Feel free to comment and leave even more reasons, if YOU also enjoy the crisp, cool fall weather!

I love driving through the mountains and seeing the fall colors on the trees
The cool, crisp air, first thing in the morning, as it warms a little during the day
Bon fires at night, with s'mores
Caramel Apples
Corn mazes and hayrides
A steaming mug of hot apple cider
Going to haunted houses with friends
Costume parties
Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte
Pumpkin pie and whipped cream
Thanksgiving and cranberry sauce
Fuzzy socks
Flannel pajamas
Hoodies and blue jeans
Hiking Boots
Playing with the kids in the fallen leaves
Carving jack-o-lanterns
Cinnamon candles
Steelers and U of Mich football
Snuggling under a blanket with my hunnie
Hiking in the mountains

Oh, and of course, the two very best things... Halloween and my birthday! :o)

I hope you all have a wonderful week, enjoying the first stages of autumn. Our leaves are just barely starting to change colors. I'm ready to find a corn maze and start planning my Halloween costume!

Friday, September 23, 2011

One Down, Four to Go

So, I called Michael's yesterday and quit my job.
I felt bad for not giving them a notice, since they had me scheduled to work 7 out of the next 8 days and will need to find someone to fill in for me...
Wait... my PART TIME JOB had me scheduled to work 7 out of the next 8 days? WTF? Maybe I don't feel so bad after all.
I rarely saw my boyfriend.
I saw Ashleigh even less because she was sleeping when I got up in the morning, and she was usually working when I got home at night. Then, I would be asleep by the time she got there. Most of my news about my own daughter was told to me by other people in the house. Well, at least I know she's still alive...

All in all, though, Michael's really wasn't a bad job. I liked most of the people that I worked with. I'll really miss my discount, though! Chuck and I were talking about all the free time I was going to have, and we decided that we needed hobbies so we wouldn't drive eachother nuts. Damn, can I get my job back so I can get my discount on craft stuff?? lol. Guess I'll just use one of the friends/family coupons and stock up! lol.

Today is payday. I am super excited to announce that Chuck and I are paying off the first of five large bills today. I wish I could just put out a huge list and take a gigantic red marker and put a great big, fat line through "Bank of America Loan." Regardless... it's done. I'm so happy!! This has turned into a pretty good week.

I also realized that when I told everyone about the hearing, I didn't tell you about my visit with Carley. It was WAY too short, of course, but it is always good to see my little girl. Well, I don't know about "little" so much. She's getting tall!! It makes me sad to see how much she has changed in between my visits. But, she's funny, smart, and beautiful. I couldn't be more proud to call her my daughter. I can't wait to see her again. I did snap this picture during our visit, though (we were doing Mad Libs).

I guess that's about it. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!! I might start a hobby, since I'm free for two whole days!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

9 Things Successful People Do Differently

I know that I don't normally post twice in one day, but a friend posted this, and I really felt that it should be shared. We all view success in different ways, but in the end, I'm hoping that I will have a successful life by my own definition. I hope the same for all of you. Perhaps this list will help move you in that direction! ~B

1. Get specific. When you set yourself a goal, try to be as specific as possible. "Lose 5 pounds" is a better goal than "lose some weight," because it gives you a clear idea of what success looks like. Knowing exactly what you want to achieve keeps you motivated until you get there. Also, think about the specific actions that need to be taken to reach your goal. Just promising you'll "eat less" or "sleep more" is too vague — be clear and precise. "I'll be in bed by 10pm on weeknights" leaves no room for doubt about what you need to do, and whether or not you've actually done it.

2. Seize the moment to act on your goals. Given how busy most of us are, and how many goals we are juggling at once, it's not surprising that we routinely miss opportunities to act on a goal because we simply fail to notice them. Did you really have no time to work out today? No chance at any point to return that phone call? Achieving your goal means grabbing hold of these opportunities before they slip through your fingers.
To seize the moment, decide when and where you will take each action you want to take, in advance. Again, be as specific as possible (e.g., "If it's Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, I'll work out for 30 minutes before work.") Studies show that this kind of planning will help your brain to detect and seize the opportunity when it arises, increasing your chances of success by roughly 300%.

3. Know exactly how far you have left to go. Achieving any goal also requires honest and regular monitoring of your progress — if not by others, then by you yourself. If you don't know how well you are doing, you can't adjust your behavior or your strategies accordingly. Check your progress frequently — weekly, or even daily, depending on the goal.

4. Be a realistic optimist. When you are setting a goal, by all means engage in lots of positive thinking about how likely you are to achieve it. Believing in your ability to succeed is enormously helpful for creating and sustaining your motivation. But whatever you do, don't underestimate how difficult it will be to reach your goal. Most goals worth achieving require time, planning, effort, and persistence. Studies show that thinking things will come to you easily and effortlessly leaves you ill-prepared for the journey ahead, and significantly increases the odds of failure.

5. Focus on getting better, rather than being good. Believing you have the ability to reach your goals is important, but so is believing you can get the ability. Many of us believe that our intelligence, our personality, and our physical aptitudes are fixed — that no matter what we do, we won't improve. As a result, we focus on goals that are all about proving ourselves, rather than developing and acquiring new skills.

Fortunately, decades of research suggest that the belief in fixed ability is completely wrong — abilities of all kinds are profoundly malleable. Embracing the fact that you can change will allow you to make better choices, and reach your fullest potential. People whose goals are about getting better, rather than being good, take difficulty in stride, and appreciate the journey as much as the destination.

6. Have grit. Grit is a willingness to commit to long-term goals, and to persist in the face of difficulty. Studies show that gritty people obtain more education in their lifetime, and earn higher college GPAs. Grit predicts which cadets will stick out their first grueling year at West Point. In fact, grit even predicts which round contestants will make it to at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
The good news is, if you aren't particularly gritty now, there is something you can do about it. People who lack grit more often than not believe that they just don't have the innate abilities successful people have. If that describes your own thinking .... well, there's no way to put this nicely: you are wrong. As I mentioned earlier, effort, planning, persistence, and good strategies are what it really takes to succeed. Embracing this knowledge will not only help you see yourself and your goals more accurately, but also do wonders for your grit.

7. Build your willpower muscle. Your self-control "muscle" is just like the other muscles in your body — when it doesn't get much exercise, it becomes weaker over time. But when you give it regular workouts by putting it to good use, it will grow stronger and stronger, and better able to help you successfully reach your goals.
To build willpower, take on a challenge that requires you to do something you'd honestly rather not do. Give up high-fat snacks, do 100 sit-ups a day, stand up straight when you catch yourself slouching, try to learn a new skill. When you find yourself wanting to give in, give up, or just not bother — don't. Start with just one activity, and make a plan for how you will deal with troubles when they occur ("If I have a craving for a snack, I will eat one piece of fresh or three pieces of dried fruit.") It will be hard in the beginning, but it will get easier, and that's the whole point. As your strength grows, you can take on more challenges and step-up your self-control workout.

8. Don't tempt fate. No matter how strong your willpower muscle becomes, it's important to always respect the fact that it is limited, and if you overtax it you will temporarily run out of steam. Don't try to take on two challenging tasks at once, if you can help it (like quitting smoking and dieting at the same time). And don't put yourself in harm's way — many people are overly-confident in their ability to resist temptation, and as a result they put themselves in situations where temptations abound. Successful people know not to make reaching a goal harder than it already is.

9. Focus on what you will do, not what you won't do. Do you want to successfully lose weight, quit smoking, or put a lid on your bad temper? Then plan how you will replace bad habits with good ones, rather than focusing only on the bad habits themselves. Research on thought suppression (e.g., "Don't think about white bears!") has shown that trying to avoid a thought makes it even more active in your mind. The same holds true when it comes to behavior — by trying not to engage in a bad habit, our habits get strengthened rather than broken.
If you want change your ways, ask yourself, What will I do instead? For example, if you are trying to gain control of your temper and stop flying off the handle, you might make a plan like "If I am starting to feel angry, then I will take three deep breaths to calm down." By using deep breathing as a replacement for giving in to your anger, your bad habit will get worn away over time until it disappears completely.

Here We Go!

Well, to start off, I feel like a zombie. I drove 7 hours south, stayed in a hotel, got hit on by some guy working @ Starbucks, went to the hearing, hung with Carley for a couple of hours, then drove 7 more hours home. It was 12:30 by the time I got home last night.

What happened to the days when we would go out drinking on a Tuesday night, get home around 3am, and go into work the next day without even feeling tired??? This whole "getting old" thing is for the birds.

Anyhoo, I know you all want me to stop babbling and tell you how the hearing went.
I'll get to that.

First, though, I need to establish something. I'm tired... that means that whatever I write may or may not make sense. Seriously. It's taking forever to even type this much because my brain doesn't seem to be sending the proper signals to my fingers. Grrr...

So, here we go:

First, we were able to work out the kinks of what I actually owed in back child support. The State finally recognized what had been paid. I will not claim that I am perfect. I was extremely broke after the divorce, and so I freely admit that I had missed a few months, and didn't pay the whole amount for some months. I have no problem admitting that I owed something. My problem was that they claimed I owed a LOT more that what I actually did. So, we came to a number that Tim and I could both agree on.

Next, they looked at my financials and his, and the Judge crunched some numbers...
My support is reduced by $180/month.

It isn't what I wanted, but let me explain further. My lawyer had come up with a lower number, using what is called the "20% rule." For those that are unfamiliar, the 20% rule says that if I have Carley at least 20% of the year, then my child support is drastically reduced. Well, last year, I did have Carley that much. Unfortunately, my ex was less than cooperative about summer vacation this year.

(If you ask him, he'll claim that he cooperated freely.)

Here is what happened... I asked if I could have Carley all summer, with the exception of the 2 weeks she always spends with his Mom in Tennessee. I have absolutely no issue with making sure his Mom gets Carley during the summer, even though he has NEVER made an attempt to help Carley see or even talk to anyone in my family. So, he responds with "Yes, you can have her all summer... Except for this date, and this date, and this date, and this date. She has to be in Florida during those times."

I had no idea why she had to be in Florida for those dates, but I obviously didn't have the money to drive back and forth to Florida countless times, especially if he refuses to meet me even part of the way. So, my only option was to choose the longest time period that he gave me, which was 10 days. I was told that she HAD to be back to Florida by July 31st because they were going to go on a "family vacation."

Carley told me all about the cruise they were all going to take. So, I made sure she was home on the date told to me. Turns out that they never did go on that "Family Vacation" and I was never called and told that I could keep her longer. They just allowed me to bring her back on the agreed date. So, she sat at home for the next three weeks, waiting for school to start, when she could've been up here with me for those three weeks.

So, because I did not get Carley for enough days this past year, the 20% rule does not apply to me, thus the higher child support amount.

They did remove Ashleigh, but only pro-rated her back to February of this year. When she graduated high school, I contacted the State of Florida and asked them what paperwork I had to file and whom I needed to file it with.

Maybe I seem stupid to a lot of people, but I have literally NEVER had to deal with the legal system. The worst thing that I've ever had happen is that I got a speeding ticket once. So, I am completely lost/clueless when it comes to filing official documents, especially from an entire state away. If you walk in somewhere and say, "I need to file this," they will look at it and tell you where you should actually be. When it gets mailed to the wrong department (same building), it just sits in someone's box for months.

So, I attempted to file the documents regarding Ashleigh graduating way back in August. But, they weren't filed correctly until February.

One final thought. Tim did try to throw me under the bus by bringing up my part-time job. The judge asked me, and I explained that I had gotten it in order to pay the lawyer. I told her how much money I made, and that the State of Florida is aware of it, because they've been taking money from those checks as well to send to Tim. She told me that I needed to quit the job, or they would consider that as part of my income and I would have to pay more. So, I will be quitting my Michael's job as of today. I hate not giving a 2-week notice, but I am not about to give him the opportunity to increase my support.

I guess things didn't go as well as I'd hoped, but I am still happy. The fact that they never aknowledged the support that had been paid really bothered me. So, that's a weight that's been lifted.

Plus, with the extra $180/month, I can set that aside and actually SEE CARLEY MORE OFTEN!!

That right there made all of this worth my time.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Road Trip!

As many of you have heard by now, I talked to my lawyer yesterday. We are scheduled to have a hearing to adjust my child support payment tomorrow. My lawyer was full of positive news, and I am very much looking forward to having all of this past me. I would love to share everything that she told me, but I don't want to jiinx anything. So, until everything is settled, you'll just have to live with "it's looking good."

Meanwhile, I am working today (at lunch right now) and will be driving to Jacksonville after work. It's usually about a 6-7 hour trip, but since I'll be attempting Atlanta during afternoon rush hour (dumb, dumb, dumb), there's no telling how long it will take. I am going to try to take 285 around Atlanta, instead of 75 through it, though. We'll see if that makes any difference at all.

The last time I tried some smarty-pants move like that, I got stuck for several hours behind a wreck, on the road outside of Macon... Middle of summer, jeep almost out of gas, with Ashleigh. We kept having to turn the jeep off so we wouldn't get stranded (neither of us wanted to walk for gas), and so we couldn't use the a/c. Totally miserable.

Anyhoo, I am making the trip alone tonight. There are good and bad aspects of Brenda making a road trip all by herself. It's good that I get to think things through and have a plan of action... for the rest of my life, apparently, since it'll take at least 7 hrs to get there and the same to get back on Wednesday night. On the negative side, I'll be able to make myself a plan of action... for the rest of my life, only to change my mind the next time I have a spare minute to reconsider.

Seriously, how am I still sane? Does anyone else do this to themselves? Sometimes I feel like I'm teetering on the edge.

I have two sides of myself. When I am worried about something, I do tend to become more quiet and introverted, because I'm replaying the entire thing through my head... I have this uncanny ability to view something from every possible angle. I've often believed that this is exactly why I've been fortunate enough to never break a bone (Knock on wood!!). I have the abilitiy to see all the things that could happen, and if breaking a bone is a possible scenario (I weigh the risks), then I won't do it. I should work for an insurance company... I could TOTALLY be one of those risk-assessment people.

The other side of myself doesn't want to be left alone when I'm stressed BECAUSE I know that I will play and replay the thing over and over and over again in my head. It's not pretty. I have been known to freak myself out, because my mind always automatically assumes the worst possible scenario.

This is where I'm at right now. I am looking forward to having this hearing out of the way. I am super-excited to see Carley tomorrow, even if it is just for a little while. I don't even mind all the driving. I am not so excited to have the time to let my mind replay every possible outcome of this hearing. I know that one day I will drive myself (no pun intended) crazy with all of this over-analyzing.

Since I don't have anyone to ride in the car with me, I am certain that several of you will be receiving phone calls at some point tonight. All I ask is that you listen for a few minutes, talk me off my ledge, and then distract me with something interesting that is happening in your life.

Every now and then, my mind just needs to be put back into neutral.
It needs to consider other people outside of its thick, bone-headed coating.
A time-out, so to speak.

I just know that if I am not distracted, I will worry myself sick. Then, I won't be able to eat tomorrow, because of nerves. Then, when we get to the hearing, I'll be all nervous and hungary... low blood sugar... can't think straight... pass out....

See? Do you see what my brain can do? Seriously. I'm a mess.

I will post a blog once this is all over with, and share the outcome.
Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone that has listened to me complain about "poor me" and my situation over the past few years. I am finally getting close to the light at the end of the tunnel. I just have to get past this hurdle.

Anyhoo... expect phone calls. You know who you are. :o)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pass the Word

Lately, I’ve had a few people utter the words “your blog has inspired me”
and it shocks me every single time!

I started writing down my thoughts to get things out of my head.
If you know me, you know that I dwell (aka “Stress”) on things for days, and even weeks.
I think, re-think, and then re-think my re-thunk-thoughts…
…and then talk to people about it,
…and then do the whole process all over again.

I’m a Libra.
There is a reason the scales are our symbol.

I’ve tried several times during my life to write in journals, in order to sort out what is in my head.
The problem with me, however, is that I need feedback.

Thus, a blog.

So, I was talking to a friend today, and he very recently signed divorce papers, and is in the beginning of what I went through nearly four years ago. I remember talking to him a day or two before him signing the papers, about how divorce is a very painful process, and even if you know it is the right thing, and you know that it is going to be better for everyone involved to just get it over with, you also know that there was something about that person that you loved at one time. Sometimes it’s hard to remember what that thing is, but it was there once.

Divorce is like death.

That one little thing that you loved about that person is what you remember late at night, when you’re all alone, crying over the death of your marriage. That is when you briefly forget all the pain that they caused you, and forgive, if only for a moment.

You can’t force someone to love you. God knows I’ve tried. I know a lot of people that have tried. But, you can only love as much as possible and then leave when it gets to be too much.

So, this friend was on my mind and I decided to see how he was holding up.

I sent him a message, and he told me that he has a lot to figure out right now. He also told me, “I don't know that I'm in the greatest place right now but I'm really good at pretending I am.”

I don’t have answers for my friend. Things do get better with time. Until then, my suggestion to him is, “Continue pretending that everything is ok, and one day, you will look around and realize that you’re not pretending anymore!”

My friend did also mention that reading my blog has helped him. He told me that it is reassuring to know that he isn’t the only person going through these things. GASP! You mean there are more of us?

That leads me to my final thought.
I can’t be the only one. The State of Florida is helping my ex husband screw me over at every turn that I make. They just start garnishing my wages. When I got a second job to help relieve some of the burden, they began garnishing those wages as well. Seriously?

Apparently, when you are not the custodial parent in Florida, you are considered guilty without a trial, and then get to spend the next 2 (plus) years and thousands in lawyer & court costs to finally prove that you are not.

I have been wracking my brain, trying to figure out a way to help myself and other people in my situation.

One person suggested that I write to the local congressman. I think that would be a great idea, if I lived in that area, and he cared about my opinion. But, since I don’t, and I didn’t vote for him, I doubt he will give me a second thought.

It was also suggested that I write a newspaper article and send it to the Jacksonville newspaper. I think that would definitely get someone’s attention… but I don’t know anything about writing a newspaper article. Blogging is something completely different. Blogging is just me putting my thoughts on the computer.

Writing an article should NOT be about me whining about “poor me” to the press. It needs to be more professional than that, and I’m not sure I’m up to it.

So, I have recruited the help of one person to write something, but I am always open to suggestions.

Finally, I wanted to ask that anyone that reads this and has a blog… please add a link to my page!
If any of my other readers know anyone that might be interested in reading my story,
please e-mail,
text message,
or put a link on their facebook of my blog.

I would love to have more readers. I think it is bound to get someone’s attention, if enough people know what is going on.

The State of Florida has actually told me that it isn’t their problem because they don’t work for me. They work for the "custodial parent.”

HELLO! They are supposed to be working for my child! Taking all of my money so that I can’t even drive out to see my child is not helping her at all!

So, I figure that if I have a lot of readers, someone, somewhere, may be able to offer advice on what to do, or who I can turn to. Thanks in advance for everyone’s help!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Positive Vibes

Ok, so I haven't been on here in a while. Sorry.

To be honest, I was feeling bad, because I felt like my blog was becoming a continuous bitch session. It is a good place to air out my problems and vent, but at the same time, I am sure that I come across as this "Negative Nancy" to anyone that doesn't know me.

SO, I've decided to follow in the steps of a friend, and make today a {{{Positive Vibes}}} day. I would like to take the time to discuss the positive qualities of all of the wonderful people in my life, but I'm not going to bore you all with detail like that.

Let me just mention a few people at the top of my list, and hope that the people I don't take the time to mention will know that I do still appreciate them in my life as well!

CDL - I love that you support me in everything that I do. You listen to me, and you give me feedback when I act a little crazy. You make me laugh when I get too stressed. It drives me up the wall! Thank you.

AW&MW - I appreciate you two more than you know!! You've taken me into your home not once, but twice, when I've needed it the most. I can only hope that one day I can find an appropriate way to repay you.

JAA - I thank God for every day that you have been in my life. Taking you into my heart was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. You have made me a better, more patient person, and you constantly remind me how to look at the funny side of life. I couldn't be more proud!

CNA - You are becoming more like me every day. I am so excited about that! (I'm also hoping it drives your Dad crazy!! lol) You are smart, funny, and independent. I miss you more than you will ever understand, and I love you. You are my light at the end of the tunnel.

GJM&TGM - Thank you for always being there to listen to me vent about the issues in my life, without ever overstepping any boundaries. You realize that I am a very independent, proud person, and you never tell me how you think I should live my life. You offer advice when solicited, but mostly, you just hear me out. That is all I ever really need. I am so greatful that you are my parents!

DM - There was a long time that I didn't have you in my life, and I missed you more than you will ever know. I have always considered you to be like a big sister, and I am so excited to have you as a friend again. I love that you listen to me vent about my life, and make me laugh when you vent about yours. I appreciate our phone calls, and everything else that you have done for me as well. Thank you for being a friend.

MM - The other person that I call to vent about my life. I realize that you have issues in your life that are equal to mine, but you always take the time to listen when I need it. I value all of the constructive criticism that you give, and I appreciate that you can take my criticism for what it is... Just my Opinion. You make me laugh when things look bad. Thank you for being my friend over these years!

To everyone else out there... If you were not mentioned in the above list, please don't be upset! I have such a wonderful support group that is made up of so many people! I get phone calls, text messages, e-mails, and messages on my social network... Random kind words mean so much! I have been back in contact with some "long lost" cousins, reunited with some old Navy friends, and grown closer to some people that I went to high school with. I am thankful for every part that all of you play in my life, no matter how big or small that part may be!

So, instead of complaining about the fact that my jeep broke down, again, on Saturday... I'm going to just say THANK YOU to everyone that has already heard me bitch about it, and move on!

I hope you all have a wonderful day.