Posts tagged ‘yes i can’

Lori_NestEggI feel completely naked: the kind of naked where you feel ashamed, exposed, and vulnerable. My nest egg is gone. In a strange way, I feel like I have nothing.

Flash back five years ago.

After 10-12 years of marriage, my ex husband and I were putting most of our extra money into his 401k account as part of our planning for our future: his job had a direct 100% match. We had begun making plans for our future. After years of diapers, preschools, building our family and settling in our “forever” home, we hoped to save enough money to give the kids a bit of cash to help out with college and for the two of us to retire someday in a warmer climate.

Fast forward 5-or-so years when a long-distance and a too-close-to-home situation occurred when my then husband conveniently forgot he was married, and all of those dreams were shattered (and flushed down the toilet right along with the marriage).

To my ex husband, money really is a security blanket. I get that now. That’s just part of who he is. Me? I’m not really molded that way, but having enough money makes me feel secure (who likes to be broke, really?). Throughout our marriage, we were debt-free for the most part. It was important to us. But he took it a step further and we lived like we had to live paycheck to paycheck, always. I felt broke, always. We didn’t need to live that way. He prided himself on paying extra on our mortgage and contributing extra to our 401k. That’s both a blessing and a curse.

We were lucky we had a retirement account—most people aren’t so lucky. I’m thankful we had the money built up. But really, what good is a nest egg when it’s cracked in half and rotting day-by-day once you get divorced? Let me explain:

Part of the divorce process involves the distribution of assets. Ours was a 50/50 split.  He believed in everything being “fair and equal”, so when he wanted 2 of the 4 extension cords, 5 of the 10 plastic bins in the basement (and so on!) it was also decided we split the 401k.

Now, one of the joys (insert sarcasm) of divorce is that if you and your soon-to-be-ex argue about anything, then you each get a lawyer and you hash it out and pretty much pay for the lawyer’s children to go to college instead of your own. I wanted to walk away from the house, the furniture, everything. I just wanted to get away! But I had people telling me to think of the kids and to stay and get half of what we had built. So I did.

The stance I took cost me nearly $13,000 dollars: $200 an hour, to be exact. When my ex husband decided to change his mind after paying for mediation and refused to sign ANYTHING we had agreed to, we went back and forth between our lawyers to agree on a settlement.  It took two months, and it got expensive—we didn’t even go to court! I was truly exhausted at that point and just called it over. I didn’t fight to have him pay all of the kids benefits like most ex’s do. Or all of the kids’ medical bills. Or for the entire mortgage. I pay 50% of the kids benefits and bills and paid 100% of the mortgage. I have always (and still do) paid for 100% of their activities and sports (although he’s supposed to pay half)! All of these payments add up to my debt.

Feeding children on a $9 an-hour salary when I worked at their school wasn’t possible. I was paying an $1800 per month mortgage! My only choice was to buy groceries on my credit card back then. Travels to out-of-town tournaments were a priority for my little family, because those activities are part of who my kids are (and I was not going to make them change because their father decided to skip out with a neighbor). Those, too, were put on credit cards. The feeling of being in debt is crippling!

Today, after dealing with lots of back-and-forth and lawyer bills to split our 401k in half, I finally am able to gain access to my half of the nest egg. Will that egg feed me in my old age? No. It will go to paying off a 3 year-old divorce and bills from surviving during the hardest 3 years of my life. I’m so blessed to be able to do this, as I know lots of people who don’t have this luxury.

Am I sad my nest egg will be gone? In a strange way, yes I am. But the two-ton weight that has settled on my back and continually squashed me into the ground every month when I pay payments to those credit cards will now be gone. The day I pay off those bills will be a day of freedom, and I’ll be able to breathe again. The past can be put behind me. The monthly reminders in the mail that whisper to me, “Lori, you might not be able to come up for air ever again.” will now disappear.

I have so much more than the comfort of that nest egg! I have my amazing kids, my own home, my husband, a job I love, and I will be debt free again. I may not have the security of a retirement account come tomorrow, but as my always understanding husband often repeats to me, “I can always make more money.”

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Love Lori A Kitchen Sign

You’ll hear me say this a lot around here. I’m a single mom. I’m lucky that my ex-husband pays his child support (my thoughts and heart goes out to you single parents who aren’t as lucky), so I get some financial help with the kids. I’m very thankful for this. When I tell you I’m a single mom, what I mean by that is that I’m the one in the trenches every day. Hollering at kids to get out of bed, triple-checking that the teeth are really brushed, getting them to school on time, home for them after school to ensure homework is done, they are driven to one of their endless activities, making doctor and dentist appointments, driving them to games and friend’s homes (I could go on forever here). Some days, I’m so knee deep in crap, homework, and sports fees, I wonder if it’s all worth it. Some days, I’m ready to run and let someone else take care of the “everyday” parenting crap.

Just outside of my kitchen a sign hangs in my hallway between the kitchen and the stairway. The sign reads “Today is the day. Find your voice and make a difference. You are the real thing. 100% original. Be fearless. This is your life. Use it wisely and MAKE IT COUNT.” I hung that sign there for my kids. I want them to know that they are amazing just for being them. I didn’t grow up thinking that way about myself. I thought the only way I could be amazing was to get straight As, take first place, skip a grade, finish my work first, you know…be perfect. No, this isn’t how you become amazing. How you become amazing is just by being you. And this sign was to remind my kids of that.

The funny thing about this sign is that when I see it, it reminds me not to whine about how hard it is being a single mom. It reminds me to make every second with my four amazing kids count. For all of you single parents out there, you are your kids’ rock, their stable constant in this cold and cruel world. Your smile is the one they want to see when they come home. Yes, we need to remind them to pick up their shoes and hang up their backpacks. Yes, I bark orders and I’m not so happy and chipper all of the time either, so I need little nudges in the day. That’s why these reminders around my house are good for my soul.

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The payoff? Getting notes like this from Elisabeth, my 9 year old daughter who is so-very-good at sharing her feelings. This note now hangs front-and-center on my fridge to remind me that the everyday isn’t just crap.

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Love Lori A Home Farmhouse

I mentioned in a previous post that dreaming was something I’ve been sure to add to my life since I’ve started my new journey. It’s not that I didn’t allow myself to dream in the past…I more-or-less didn’t allow myself to believe in any dreams I may have kicked around. Does that make sense?! After all, dreaming is irresponsible. Ha! That’s a package of crap! Dreaming is what makes life bearable some days!

In the dark nights of the last 2-3 years of my marriage, after my ex-husband and I would fight about one of his female “friends” he would text (while completely ignoring me, our children, and life around him), I would lie in bed next to him feeling more alone than if I were actually laying there by myself. In the painful, almost lethal quiet of the night, I would close my eyes and dream of being a divorced mother of four. I would imagine a small, white farmhouse barely big enough to fit our five beds into with a kitchen at the back and lots of light spilling in. I would reference the images of the small older homes in Bountiful I would see as a child and I would visualize a more calm, less angry and volatile life. That dream, although scary and filled with fear of moving forward in my life on my own, was something that would get me through those long, lonely nights. I’d given up on all of my wants and desires and focused on being a good mom and providing for my kids, and that dream showed me that I could do it alone.

Ironically, one year after finalizing my divorce, I found my dream home. It’s a bit different than the house in my dreams, but it is everything I’ve ever wanted. Seeing this dream realized, completely on my own, now helps me to keep on dreaming! Beyond the dreams of health and happiness of me and my kids, there are things I want. Things I’m working for and dreaming of. And damn, Gina, it feels goooood! :) Here are a few I’m drooling over as of late…

I’ve loved Mac computers since the early 90′s. I’ve never owned one. Boy, how I’d love to go to bed looking at this gorgeous thing every night! The new iMac is to DIE FOR!

Love LoriA iMac

Having the he-man of computers in my home makes me want to take some lip smacking images to load onto that baby. In order to do that, I of course need my very own Nikon D700!

Love Lori A Nikon D700

And, of course in order to get around town and take spectacular photos, mama needs one of these Audi Q5s! Of course, it would need to be in brilliant black with beige interior. Mmmm. Come to mama!

Love Lori A Audi Q5

Last, but certainly not least, a dream of mine (and the one most likely to become a reality within the next year) is to visit the gorgeous islands of Hawaii. Tropical breezes, low-key lifestyle. 10 days (let’s push it to 14…why the hell not!) of pure heaven! This girl belongs on that beach!

Love Lori A Hawaii

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Kids at Gardner Village

I am a firm believer in achieving balance. My friend Jennafer tells me the art of achieving balance is something I should help to teach others. Ha! Really?! Mother of four, recently divorced after 17 years of marriage, taking on a full-time job, running a household, maneuvering through the kids’ school events, sports, homework etc. and trying to create a life of my own makes me the poster child for UN-balanced. There are days where I get the kids out the door and feel angry, frustrated, and as out-of-control as a fighter pilot in a tailspin. But you know what I’ve learned? I’ve learned how to glide.

I recently saw the movie Flight starring Denzel Washington. There’s a scene in the movie where Denzel and his co-pilot are trying to gain control of their MD-80 airplane after it nose-dives out of the sky. Denzel is calm and collected as he gets the plane inverted to stop the dive, and at one point he and the 102 souls on board are gliding in the huge plane. I wasn’t a huge fan of the movie, but this part of the movie really spoke to me. Amongst chaos and fear, he had faith in himself, his co-pilot and in his training so he could land the plane safely. The moment where they are gliding was almost peaceful, even though everyone on board was braced and in crash position.

Almost two-and-a-half years after kicking my husband out of my home I’ve dealt with infidelity, divorce, lawyers, debt, joblessness, trying and (finally, after a year) succeeding to sell a home, purchasing a new home, moving, 2 new jobs, and mothering four wonderful kids along the way, I’ve learned to glide. Turbulents, schmurbulents. I got this! These four kids are the reasons I’ve learned to glide. Of course, I’ve also been courageous enough to use my own oxygen mask before assisting others. More on that later.

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Sometimes, you find yourself in a heap on the laundry room floor sobbing your eyeballs out and wonder how on earth did I end up here? I mean, there are always signs, “red flags” and maybe even bricks-over-the-head moments that should have clued you in. But did you listen to those clues? Perhaps not. Perhaps you were standing on the edge of the cliff evaluating your life in the months, if not years, leading up to this moment and you contemplated jumping. But the thinker (in my case, over thinker) in you decided to wait until a parachute and a plan appeared.

But sometimes the decision to jump isn’t our own. A few of us may have been pushed (shoved, throttled) off of said cliff without a parachute let alone a plan in place. What then follows is a journey through self-doubt, pain and sacrifice, re-birth, self-discovery, and finally there’s the soaring-through-the-blue-skies moment when you realize how happy you are that someone pushed you off of that cliff. The cliff I’m referring to is divorcing my husband of 17 years (we were together 19). The process has been an almost 3 year roller coaster and the ride has been interesting.

I’m starting this blog while I’m knee-deep in that journey. It’s like working my way through a great book…There are moments when characters are being established, stories and plot lines taking place, contemplating who the villian (or villians) and heroes are in the book…all while I move from one chapter to the next, anxious to devour the next page. I sometimes find that I move through some chapters slowly, some quickly and sometimes I even skip back to the earlier chapters to re-read something I may have missed the first go ’round. It’s all good, because this is my journey.

Admittedly, there are those times where I think this is such a crap-tastic book I’m throwing it away and looking for a new one! Those times come further and further apart now, which I’m ever-so thankful for. But there was a time where I thought can I really make it through this? I now know that I can. I am writing my own story now. Daring to dream. Daring to try. Daring to love again. Daring to be myself. Because, sadly, that was something I dared not do in the past. I’m happy to be the leading lady in this story. Now…let’s see what the next chapter will bring!

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