Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

Tag: divorce

MOPS 28-Day-Truth Challenge Days 1 to 5

I am in MOPS–Mothers of Preschoolers, and I recommend if you are a stay-at-home mom or part-time working mom of children under 1st grade, FIND YOURSELF A GROUP NOW. These women have become some of my best friends and have been with me through thick and thin. Through the divorce and surgeries, they have helped me with Katie, provided support with cards and messages, organized two meal trains, and paid for lawn service for an entire spring/summer/fall. I don’t need to explain more, right? I love them! But that’s not what this post is about.

This year, MOPS has a 28-day challenge to do either a TRUTH OR DARE each day, and then work toward a BIG THING. I’m still not sure what my BIG THING will be. I thought running a 5K, but I’m not sure training for that in February is the best idea; so I’m still on the fence with my BIG THING. But I am going to do this challenge; and like everything, I am behind.  This post is for days 1 to 5. On Monday, days 6 to 10 will post. Then I will hopefully post 11 to 14 on Tuesday ,and will be caught up along with knowing more what my BIG THING might be. I also have been mulling around going on a short trip with Katie, so maybe my BIG THING will be actually taking the plunge and planning it during spring break. So far, I’ve just talked about it.

So let’s get to it:

Day 1: Swell Seasons: In what ways do you feel out of control in your life?

Answer: In what ways, don’t I? Ha! I think the biggest ways I feel out of control in my life are the demands of single parenting and my time management and amount of daily energy. It all boils down to priorities. Since I have a full-time job and a child and relationships with other human beings, then I need to prioritize what is important to me and what goals I want to accomplish on a daily basis. If I don’t and I waste a lot of time on something like arguing politics on Facebook, I feel out of sync, out of control, because time is precious. More and more, I realize how little of it I actually have.  And how I want to be choosy where and with who I spend it. It’s all about balance, and I still struggle with that on a daily basis.

Day 2: Blessings in the Night: What is your favorite thing that has happened in the dark?

Answer: That’s a loaded question, huh? I really had to think about this one because I am much more of a morning/afternoon/early evening person, than a night-time owl; and so I decided to just look back over this past year, and be very literal about this question. My favorite thing that happens on a regular basis in the dark is my 6-year-old daughter’s night time routine, complete with reading (and now sometimes she is reading to me!) and snuggling. I always tell her it is my favorite part of the day, and I am being serious. It is peaceful and sweet and calming–so much so that I often fall asleep myself. . .oops!

Day 3: Becoming Our Mothers: What are two things you hope your kids will talk about as adults when they describe their memories of you?

Answer: I want her to talk about how much fun we had on a daily basis, using our imaginations (the stuffed animals all have voices and talk a lot; my fingers are actually tickle bugs;  the gremlins come if we don’t get dressed by 9am) and how in our home, there was a lot of singing, dancing, and laughing. I also hope she remembers the little life lessons I am trying to teach her, such as being kind, entertaining yourself, not always thinking of yourself, work before play, and remembering to say I love you to people you love.

Day 4:  Sister Courage: What do you value most in a friend? Are you that kind of friend?

Answer: I value kindness the most in a friend. I want someone with a kind heart and a positive attitude. They don’t have to always be up, of course, and I am willing to listen to anyone about anything; but I hope that when they are looking at the world, they are doing it with kindness and optimism because that definitely wears off on me. I think I am pretty kind and optimistic. Sometimes, with some friends, I can be more opinionated than others, and I probably need to do a bit more active listening.

Day 5: Dear Fifteen: What do you need to give yourself permission to feel? What hurts are waiting to be seen and healed?

Answer: This is going to sound crazy, but I need to give myself permission to feel happiness. I will not feel guilty because I also feel happy. I know it sounds crazy, but I think divorce or any really hard life struggle does this to you. It is almost like you are scared to feel happiness because you’re always waiting for the next terrible thing to happen. I have worked through a lot of hurt over my adult life, so I don’t feel like I have any deep, buried issues that are waiting to come out. They have all been pouring out and now I am looking to find peace.
Feel free to answer any of these questions in the comments! 🙂 You don’t have to be a MOPS member to do so. . .

 

 

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Peace is the Word

You know you’re singing this blog post title to the tune of Grease’s theme song: “Grease is the word. . .Peace is the word.”

Okay, I’m weird I know, and I may just get weirder when I relax this year because my word for 2017 is PEACE.

I’m super excited to have decided on this as my theme for the year, and I can only hope that it leads to a wonderfully amazing and peaceful year. What do I mean exactly that my “word of the year” is PEACE?

It definitely does not mean that I’m already peaceful, or of course, I would not have to choose this as my word. I need to work on bringing peace to my life. I need to get rid of activities that do not bring me peace and come into less contact with people who are toxic and chaotic. I want to spend time meditating, napping, reading, and sitting in the sun. I want to exercise because that gives me a relaxing feeling when I’m finished. I want to have less schedule and more fun with my daughter. I want to nurture relationships, especially ones that bring me happiness, joy, and you guessed it, peace.

Divorce is anything but peaceful. It is the exact opposite of my word of the year. Divorce when children are involved is even worse because this person whom you cannot get along with is STILL in your life; and together, you are trying to parent your child, whom you love more than life itself. How could that ever be peaceful? I have lived in chaos for a long time. SO really, peace is just an extension of my word from 2016, organization. Clutter does not bring peace. Organization does (for me).

What I’ve decided this year is that even if a relationship cannot be 100 percent peaceful, I can react to it peacefully. I don’t have to engage. I can have mutual respect even if it is not returned. I can put my daughter first and focus on what is best for her.

I also need to STOP second guessing myself and being so hard on myself. We all do this–it’s common for women, but I think men are just as bad. We are our own worst critic–that is a true, true statement. So I want to learn to stop criticizing myself so much, and find peace with my decisions and life path.

There are a lot of things in this word I cannot control, including and most especially any other human being on this planet. The U.S. right now does not bring me peace. The world does not bring me peace. So what will I do about these situations? I will commit to responding peacefully and trying very hard to NOT be quick to judge or harsh with my words.

How do you find peace?

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How I Finally Finished a Book by a Shameful Writer (re-post)

This post originally appeared on WOW! Women On Writing on September 3, 2016 at this link.  WOW! Women On Writing is a great site for writers, full of helpful articles, online classes and a quarterly flash fiction contest.

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” 

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

Both of those quotes are by the great Stephen King, whether you like him or not, read his books or don’t, he gives practical and sage advice to writers. I’ve had the time to read. I’ve started countless wonderful books by amazing authors, but I haven’t been able to get through them for one reason or another–mostly due to my divorce, maybe due to exhaustion from anemia (which I just discovered I had) and single parenthood. But I hadn’t finished a book in ages. It’s embarrassing. I am a writer after all, and I wasn’t reading.

I had this conversation with my neighbor one day–she loves to read. She handed me the book Me Before You, and said, “This is a great book. You will get through this. It’s a movie right now.” (I’ll admit I’m so out of touch with movies for adults that I didn’t even know this!) That night, I started it. JoJo Moyes is a very good writer. She drew me in with her quirky main character, Louisa Clark, and the surly hero, Will Traynor. But as I started reading along, and got to maybe page 100, my usual pattern took over. I was reading maybe 1 or 2 pages a night before I fell asleep or thought of a reason to check Facebook. I was sure I knew what was going to happen, and I felt disappointed, and didn’t really want to read just another love story.

But one night when I read my obligatory pages (to not feel like a total heel), there was a conversation between Lou and her sister Treena that was so well-written, I fell back in love with the book. Then I read some of the back material about why JoJo wrote the book, and I told myself: give it a chance. One day this past week, I was in bed with a cold, and I read 166 pages to finish this book. When I finished, I was so in love with the story and the ending that I rented the movie On Demand, which I have literally never done before in my life.
And I’ll have you know since then, I’ve already started two more books–a self-help book, where the author wants you to read one exercise a week, and the new Harry Potter play–on page 45 already!

So what happened? I found a good writer. I found a good writer that brought me into her story world and made me fall in love with these two characters even though things might not have ended the way I would have written the story. She made me think about life. She made me think about love. She made me think about what is really important, and she gave me back my belief that love is possible even under the worst circumstances. I know that sounds like a lot for one book, but that’s the thing about books–they really do change the world.

So even though I titled this post–by a shameful writer, I’m not as shameful about reading as I was a week ago, and I’m praying this continues because I think I’m on the road to a writing/reading recovery. I feel myself taking baby steps and it feels good.

Margo L. Dill is a writer, editor, and teacher, living in St. Louis, MO. You can find out more about her and her books at http://www.margoldill.com and her writing class in the WOW! classroom here. 

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Every Time She Leaves

_DSC0354I recently heard someone say that when you become a parent, a little piece of your heart is now living outside your body. Isn’t that the truth? Every time, my daughter leaves to go with her dad, it makes me, well, sick to my stomach. I know she has fun. I know she loves her daddy. I know she misses him. But the transition is tough–she often says things like, “I don’t want to be without you, Mommy.” She’s not choosing me over him; she’s just stating how much it sucks in her little Kindergarten world that she cannot be with her mommy when she wants to.

And that does suck.

I was the one who asked for the divorce. I’m not going to get into why. It’s not even important to anyone but the two of us. But I will tell you that although I feel like I made the only decision I could after many struggles, I still doubt being away from my daughter, like I have to be, because I chose to divorce her dad. It is the hardest thing for me–still–and we have been separated since May 2015.

I cope by trying to do things I could not do while she is with me. I try to sleep more. I try to get our house organized. I try to see my friends. I try to plan fun things to do when she comes back. I try to remember that she needs me to set boundaries and discipline her when we are together, even though I want to make every moment precious.

I’m a lucky mom. I have a healthy, vibrant, strong-willed, beautiful little girl, and I have to trust that I have made the best decisions I could make for her, regardless of what anyone else thinks. And when I miss her–I am lucky that I can call her or Skype with her, and that we will be together again soon.

It’s not easy to stay positive. But that’s how I make it through…every time she leaves.

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An Honest Look at When Life Gets in the Way of Creativity (re-post)

This is an excerpt from a post originally published on WOW! Women On Writing‘s blog at http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/2016/06/an-honest-look-at-when-life-gets-in-way.html on June 16, 2016.

give upWhat’s the problem?

Life is the problem. As I’ve discussed before on this blog, this past year, my husband and I have been going through a divorce, and this is the absolute hardest thing that has ever happened to me. If you are divorced, then at this time you are probably nodding your head. It has completely changed my writing and reading life, and I have been slowly trying to find my way back.

So as I was constructing a “helpful” post on dialogue last night and earlier today, I was thinking: maybe it would be better just to be honest with [WOW!] readers. When I am honest on Facebook about my life and feelings (without oversharing–of course–or being vague–which everyone hates), a lot of people respond.

How do we as creative people, as writers, get through emotional times? Some of you probably write and journal. Journal writing doesn’t work for me. Yes, I write down what I am going through in messages, emails, and texts to my friends. This form of communication actually works quite well for me. It is much easier for me to have an instant message conversation with my best friends than sometimes to have an actual conversation. It’s a form of writing, and I’m sure since I am a writer, this is why I find IM so helpful.

I also have plans to start a blog full of non-fiction, self-help, memoir-type posts, but finding the time and energy to do that has so far eluded me.

I am tired, fellow writers. I am full of anxiety and angst. I feel I have little direction. I thought I was out of “survival mode,” and recently, tried to do some things to work toward a better future, but I’m not there. I am still in survival mode–just getting by day by day as best I can.

I can’t think about finishing my middle-grade novel still. I can barely pick up a book to read. At night, I have all sorts of books on my nightstand calling out to me, and I feel like I don’t even have the energy to invest in someone’s wonderful story.

Don’t get me wrong. I am functioning. Every day is not terrible. I have a beautiful, smart, funny 5-year-old daughter whom I love spending time with. I have amazing friends and parents. I love teaching my WOW! Women On Writing novel classes, and I LOVE helping my editing clients–so I am going to keep doing these things, while I also try with baby steps to get back to what my true passion is–writing and reading. I also like my full-time job, which has to do with proofreading, graphic design, and marketing. So yeah, the left side of my brain is doing all right. It’s the right side that needs some time and TLC, I guess.

So I have no idea if anyone reading this who is also a writer, painter, illustrator, sculptor, musician, etc feels this way or has ever felt this way. But you are not alone. And if you’ve already been through a journey like mine and you are on the other side, I would love to hear about things that helped you.

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