Saturday, July 14, 2012

July 14, 2012

So here it is, my birthday month, time to pause, relax, enjoy, reflect and plan for the next year.  In summary, 2012 is shaping up to be a fantastic year.  Work is a little overwhelming, but that is because I get involved in too many things.

Topic 1: Learning to say no
Define and prioritize your goals, then say no to any new activities that interfere, or are not directly related to those goals.  Let me ask you, is there anyone out there that does this well, because, I chase after new activities like a lab after a squirrel!!  Although I do try to adhere to this strategy, it alludes me if I don't constantly (like every couple of hours) review it!

Regardless, feedback at work is very positive and rewarding. I love what I do.  There is currently a tremendous amount of turmoil at work with the departure of our VP, Pharm Sci.  There is much consternation over who will be the successor, with implications to our direct reports and org structure depending on who the successor will be.  I continue to keep my focus on my team, their morale, and do have an optimistic outlook for the future.

I have just enjoyed my first full week of the kids being with Jae and Jane for this summer.  I have to say, I am in a much better place than I was last year.  I don't feel so abandoned and lonely, though I am still quite alone, nor am I sad or angry anymore about the loss of my marriage and the role Jane has played.  It is going on two years now, officially two years in November, unofficially 2.5 years since we split.  I have come to the conclusion that I don't know how to 'date'.  Because of the long distance nature, they seem to go straight from I like you, I have strong feelings for you, right to intense relationship and steady companionship.  I have had two significant relationships, but neither had a 'dating' phase.  I find this odd, and not a pattern that I want to repeat in the future.  The first thing I did for myself in this respect was to get a therapist.

Topic 2: Learning how to date
There has to be an interested party...nuff said!

So, rather than looking around and waiting, I am using my free time this summer for a variety of different things.  1) Fix up minor repairs around the house, 2) get some new appliances 3) WORKOUT like a crazy woman, so that when the kids get back, I only have to maintain my fitness 4) Explore the area with just me and my camera.

Here is my summer so far:

June 24-30 Japan: 
Wouldn't change a thing, professionally, I think it was a great week.  I made new connections with the appropriate folks, lead a scientific review of the oncology portfolio, participated in the Global QbD initiative and in general, enjoyed my evenings with new and old acquaintances, further developing those relationships, and had the opportunity to interact with Dr Miwa and Pete Smith in a less formal setting.  I stuck to my workout routine for running and did not gain any weight while in Japan, feeling so good about that.

Emotionally, it was a very tough week as I had to exercise a great deal of self-restraint with an ongoing relationship that has an uncertain future.  The execution of my self-restraint was not flawless, but I have no regrets. I seem to have so little say in matters of my own heart.  It just does what it wants and leaves me to pick up the pieces.  That being said, refer to the first sentence, re: I wouldn't change a thing.

June 30: 
Leigh's birthday!  She drove to St. Louis to see me and we spent the night catching up with unemployment, relationships, work, sex toys and keeping yourself centered and happy when the world around you is not complying with your demands.  The next day we drove from St Louis to Owensboro, with a minor pit stop at Larry Flints Erotic Boutique to pick up a few personal items.  I love my Leigh time!!

June 31 - July 7 Kentucky and Family:
Sigh...home, sweet, home...
I thank my family for being patient with me as I go through re-entry from work to personal interactions.  Decompression from email pending deadlines is not easy when you have had two weeks alone.  However, once I made the switch and was able to put down the phone, the integration back into family life is so sweet and right and that centeredness just comes pouring back.  To be with those that love you and whom you love, warts and all, is simply fulfilling for me.  I am happy to get this time with my girls, to have them be with my family, for them to know they are loved unconditionally and deeply.  For the the girls to experience farm life, fireworks on the river, getting to know extended family and cousins, swimming in the pond, hot summer days, the hospital - for the birth of new cousins and nursing homes to visit great-great grandparents.

July 8-14 Boston:
This week was my first full on week of Cross-fit and the Nutrition Challenge.  So I have been working out most every-day, if I miss a workout, I talk a long walk with Sammy to keep the engine fired up.  On Friday, I had a lung burner workout and got a little scared because the recovery took too long.  When you can't breathe, it suddenly becomes the most important thing to you!!  After just one week I am feeling stronger and can see some definition in my thighs, arms, back and abs already and have lost 5 pounds, YAY!! This is a forty day challenge. I may post before and after pictures at Day 40, Sunday, August 20. I ran a 5K this week, but had really bad go of it, mainly due to the crowd, but still, I ended up walking a little, I think my body was just on the verge of bonking.  Anyway, the 5K was part of the JP Morgan Corp Challenge, 12,000 runners and I finished at 57:36 or there about, there were just too many walkers.  My time on my next 5K will be much better, and I will be sure to post.  Millennium gave us team T-shirts as hosted a WHIP at Scholars, so I was able to get to know a few more colleagues and had my one beer for the week. :)

I read a page from a book at the Vet.  The book was called Dogma.  The phrase that stuck out was, 'Wait patiently, for the one you love'.  So, in this vein, I have to say, I think I am doing pretty well.  I have down moments, but for the most part, though my heart is very tender and recovering, I am moving forward, not stuck in a place of sadness.  Here again, I have a positive outlook because, regardless of the outcome, I feel less constrained, and have more freedom to move forward.

Today I plan on installing my window AC units!  We will see if this Crossfit is starting to pay off yet.

Will continue to blog on Saturday or Sunday of each week and have the following plans:
July 20-22: Rehoboth Beach with the Girls
July 28-31: Leigh to visit Boston and Coldplay concert, oh, and my birthday (with Leigh, yeah!).
August 4-6: Visit Girls (open plans)
August 10-12: Photo-vacation in Acadia - YES, alone and looking forward to it. Visit Richard Bondurant and his significant other.
August 17-19: Visit Girls (open plans)
August 24-26: Last weekend alone (Boston)
August 31: Memorial Day weekend to the beach with the Girls, hang with friends, say good-bye to summer....

Have a good one Y'all!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I have so much to give
It overflows and spills on the floor making a mess
A mess of you and a mess of me
We hold it back
Not giving the way love is supposed to flow and be absorbed

The constellations have lead so many through
The waters to unknown places
Places to be found and explored
Risking all to find something new
Something valuable

What now overflows may one day dry up
if it is not used
I cannot contain what I have
Like endless waves crashing over the sand
My heart is coming out of my chest
Laying there so vulnerable

So it feels like goodbye
Though I will bleed to death
I will smile and enjoy the sunshine, the wind in my hair
The rain in my eyes, and let it be what it is
And I will continue to love

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

It's Midnight

Tomorrow, for the first time in my life, I am taking a vacation to the sunny coast of Maine. Ogunquit, Maine! No men, no phone, no kids...just me and the lobster, and my friend Francine.

It is August 23

I grew up in Kentucky, the Ohio River Valley, and I am used to August being the Dog Days of Summer. Today on my way to work it was 68 degrees out. They have a pool at the Cliff House where I will be staying. Pool or Ice Cube repository? I have a feeling I won't be swimming, unless the pool is heated...

At least there is the Signature Massage waiting for me on Thursday. Sweet Heaven. Shall I say, it is a sheer luxury to think about having someone's hands on my skin, working out the kinks. The stress, the frustration of having no sex life for close to a year, on top of that currently having a very fun, but frustrating, sext life. But what the hell, it seems that very few actually have a good sex life, why do I need one? I am not sure what is more embarrassing about actually having a sex life, 1) buying a 3 pack of condoms and your neighbor showing up behind you in line..."Oh, Hi Bill" or 2) Getting your 1 quart zip-lock bag screened as you go through airport security, with the KY jelly prominently displayed. Oy Vay, that only happened once.

I think I hit a fantastically comfortable high this summer, with work and with life, which has all come to climax this month. This was a very special summer for me. I had the opportunity to be summer single. The girls were with their father for 8 weeks. I had the opportunity to explore Boston on my own, or with friends who were on business in Boston. I found out that I really enjoy Kayaking, especially alone, and especially going past Harvard on my way to the Charles River Basin. On the water, this is one of my happy places.

I didn't cook a single meal, well, okay, I think I cooked three meals, all for my girlfriends. I painted, I cleaned, I played guitar and I met a lot of new people. My life is evolving. Why stop now?

However, as of Saturday, I will no longer be summer single. The girls are coming back and I will be crazy busy, falling asleep after reading to them. That is why here I am at Midnight, after cleaning all evening. Preparing my nest, for my babies to return.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


What is love?

I don't know that I will ever know the answer to this question. I have had love, I have loved, I have felt love, I have been in love, I have given love, but rarely without expectation. That I have reserved for my grandparents, my parents and my children. Unconditional love. I know that I get that unconditional love in return, but why can't a man and a woman create this? And if they can, why have I gotten it so wrong?

What have I ever gained from love?

Other than from my family and my God, I have lost at love too many times, I have never been enough for any man to love completely, or maybe I have been too much for any man to love forever. I know it is best to stay open and receptive to life, to be raw, to be vulnerable. That's hard and life marches on and has expectations. Why can't I be enough, why must I be too much?

Tonight for the first time since Feb 2010, I came home from work, walked the dog, curled up in bed with my NetFlix and watched Precious. Then I had my long awaited cathartic moment. The intensity of the pain of being let down and let go, of failing at the one thing that was most important to me, the anger of being robbed of my dreams, the loneliness of my kids being gone and the bitterness, yes the bitterness of my children being cared by for someone who didn't, who hasn't, earned the right. I cried. I cried long and hard, copious tears covered my cheeks and eyelashes, my pillow and my sheets, tears that rolled down my cheeks and into my ears and onto my neck. The tissue box drained, along with me.

I have a right to be mad, but what in the world do I have to be mad at? Who do I direct this anger toward? Me? Parents? God? Jae? Everyone? Anyone?

No, no one.

No one is wrong, no one is right. I muddle through this life, intensify my efforts to make good choices, to be honest, to be true to myself, to allow others to be who they are, and to the best of ability avoid those who can not be true to themselves or to others. I very much lack a trust of my own ability to judge honesty in others these days. I used to trust everyone. Now, I am skeptical of all. I am skeptical of intentions and hidden agendas and skeletons.

But I am at this moment, no matter how painful, exactly where I am supposed to be. Drained, tired, sleepy and alone. Completely and skeptically alone.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Weekend Visitation

Friday was a whirlwind, trying to finish up sensitive HR business at work while keeping my eye on the clock so that I would not be late for my week end commute home. The 7 hour commute on Amtrak to Wilmington, Delaware from Boston is how I will be spending the next three months of week ends. As always, business runs late, but Amtrak is usually on time, so I feel the anxiety of leaving no margin in my personal life. I know this is a part of my personality that needs a little polishing. If I truly want to spend less time worrying about work, and more time laughing, I need to find a way to put work where it belongs.
Once I am on the train, time is suspended. I read, I get comfortable, I get uncomfortable, I take pictures of the world outside my window speeding by as if it has somewhere to go. I get up to take a walk, get a bite to eat have a beer and settle back down to take a nap. When I finally get to the Wilmington station, I am glad that Jae has brought both Ayden and Hanna with him to pick me up. I am greeted by enthusiastic, high pitched voices saying, ''Mimi", and lots of hugs. I get down on one knee to brace myself and receive their love and their hugs I have missed all week.
On Saturday morning, we all slept in until 7 am. What a treat. Hanna's sleep patterns have changed since her trip to Boston in March. I wonder if she is just growing or responding to the stress of divorce, out of whack emotions, change in Au Pair, and new schedule. It was so sweet to wake up with the both the girls in my bed with me, to not be alone in my sleeping and waking like I have been all this week. Over the last 13 years, I have never really felt alone in my own bed, actually, it has been just the opposite. Most recently, I have felt the overwhelming presence of Jae, of the expectation for intimacy and me always being so tired and him feeling rejected. It was a vicious cycle. I don't know how or when we ended up disappointing each other so much. Little by little over the years, it crept in, crawled in between us, and never left. But that was not in my thoughts this morning, we all played in the bed until someone mentioned breakfast. We enjoyed a big Saturday morning breakfast together with cold milk, hot coffee, bacon, biscuits with butter and grape jelly, and eggs, just Me, Hanna, Ayden and Flick. It was a beautiful, sunny spring day and Ayden asked me if we could go roller-blading together. I agreed and strapped on my blades before I could realize the risk I was taking with my 41 year old frame. We had so much fun, Hanna was pushing her stroller, while Ayden and I were doing our best out-of-control, damage control. Neither of us fell, but I am sure we were a funny scene to watch. We were both learning to control the speed of our wheels, with arms flinging and flailing and uncertain legs out of time with the expect smooth strokes. We were all smiles as we learned to master the direction of our bodies together and even skated a little, while holding hands in the cul-de-sac. Later we went shopping for new summer shorts and talked about friends, relationships, school and the new people I am working with.
Sunday morning was bit more hurried as I tried to get both girls up and ready for church. We were running just a few minutes late but no one was upset, like it used to be. During the service the girls stuck like Velcro to my side. Ayden couldn't get close enough it seemed, and I enjoyed her wanting my arms around her. The sermon was about Trust. I thought about all the places and people in my life where I lacked trust. The place where I think I need protection for my heart, from my habits, from my broken places. I know I have places that I need to expose and make vulnerable, mainly, so I can be rid of them. During prayer request time, Ayden's hand shot up. This was the first time she had ever wanted to speak or give a prayer request to the congregation, I was not about to stifle it. Her words landed hard and I caught my breath as she announced to the church, "My Mommy is getting divorced" as she looked back at me with a pitiful look. It sounded so one sided. I wondered if this was any insight into how she perceives what is going on in our lives. The lay person repeated back respectfully, "Prayers for the Sparks Family." "NO!" I wanted to say, "she is asking for prayers for me"! I kept myself in check and thought, this is her way of comforting me and I gave her a little hug and told her, "thank you".
I could never pretend that our divorce is one-sided. It was a death of 1,000 cuts that we inflicted on one another. I search my memories for the good moments we shared, so many of them tainted by the pain we accumulated over the years. The best thing is that I have two beautifully perfect daughters that I love with a heart that can not be tainted by deceit, self-righteousness, or resentment for unmet expectations. It is truly, unconditional and pure and ultimately, I guess, what we all crave. I feel sorry that I could not see that before and will hold this as a goal for any relationship that I may have in the future. Week-end visitation: life under a magnifying glass, vulnerability, trust and love. I wonder if they will all be like this.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

April in Boston

I have always heard that Boston is beautiful in the Spring. I will miss it on the week-ends until April 24th. April 24th will be my first full week-end in Boston and I get to share it with an old college friend.

It rained the entire last three days of March, when I first arrived in Boston. Not just rained, there were flood warnings and high winds, ruined umbrellas, ruined shoes and soaked coats. When I first came to Boston, I thought it was odd that grown women wore rubber boots with their pants tucked in on their way to work, odd, until
my first commute in the pouring rain, in a business suit, wearing business shoes. Now I understand. It is gray and cold. The trees and bulbs are still holding fiercely to their dried tubers, waiting for the right moment to wake and burst forth from their brown cocoons into the vibrant colors of spring. April is the cruelest month.

As opposed to last week, today, was a beautiful spring day. I wore my black patent leather stilettos, refusing to release this one morsel of vanity to Cambridge. After work I put on my sneaks to go for a run. Boston is full of runners, especially on a day like today. So I decided to join the ranks. If I don't do it, I will continue to be an outsider in this city; the outsider in stilettos. I ran about 2 miles from my apt in downtown Boston across the Charles River Bridge and into Cambridge through MIT and Central Square, then walked another mile to Harvard Square. The city is so full of life, life of all ages and social status; professors, professionals, students, vagrants, innovators, entrepreneurs, workers, bus drivers, vendors, shop owners. I think they are all try to look like professors from Harvard or MIT, even the vagrants, or perhaps it is the other way around. The one exception seems to be the students. There even seems to be a difference in appearance of the MIT students as opposed to the Harvard students. The Harvard students are all beautiful. I did some necessary shopping at Verizon, Urban Outfitters and the Harvard Coop (yes, as in chicken coop) to get a book before catching the T back to Boston. I start reading as soon as I am outside and back on the sidewalk, "Like Water for Chocolate", a re-read. As I enter the T station, I hear the tinkle and strumming of someone playing flamenco on an acoustic guitar, mixed with the grind of the train brakes, I feel the heat and wind of the station and can taste the Christmas Rolls that Tita is making in Chapter 1. They all blend perfectly. Yes indeed, it is a beautiful day.

Spring Arrives in Boston

Today, April 7, Boston has burst into blossom with Dogwood, Azaleas, Forsythia, Tulips and Daffodills. it seems that it happened overnight. There is a new energy. It was 80 degrees and breezy today.

The week of April 15th has been perfect, with sunny warm days in the 70's during the day and 50's during the evening. I have been so busy with work that it is difficult to leave early and enjoy the day, but I have been making plans for my upcoming visit on the 24th. I have tickets for the Red Sox vs the Rangers, my first Red Sox game. I also have tickets to take a walking historical culinary tour of the North End.

My week-ends with the girls are packed with trips to Longwood Gardens and sleepovers. Ayden and Hanna cling to me. I soak it in, the girls, the beauty of spring. My days pass too slowly. My week-ends with the girls pass too quickly. I spend April 18th and 19th in NYC visiting friends and exploring NYC on my own. It is in full bloom as well. The days are getting warmer. The skies blue and clear.

Springtime in Boston is especially sweet after a long, difficult winter in Pennsylvania. I breathe it all in, expand my lungs, expand my world.

So much beauty to absorb.

Monday, March 29, 2010

First Day of Work

Chapter 4: My Forties

I celebrated my 40th birthday with a bang. My (soon to be ex) husband Jae took care of all of the details, right down to my favorite cake, which was the same as our wedding cake, a carrot cake with cream cheese icing, DJ, invitations, drinks, catering, dance floor by the pool, pool torches, etc. Looking back, that year was the beginning of the end for our marriage. In Jan of 2008, during a screaming match, I told Jae that he had a decision to make, 'you need to decide what you want, if you want to stay or go'. It took him two more years, but he ultimately made the decision to go. That was Feb 5, 2010, 5:00 am, he woke me up to tell me.

So here it is, March 29, 2010, my first day of work in Cambridge, MA. Just this week-end Jae helped me bring up my things I needed for temporary living. Funny that I considered the wine humidifier and all the wines as essential...., but I forgot to pack my work shoes, which Jae will overnight to me tomorrow. The house is finally ready to be put on the market. I am here in MA with the girls and Jae is in PA, try to sell our 'primary marital residence', as the lawyers call it.

I have a blank slate....what will I write....

March 29, 2010

Woke up as usual, at 5:30 am to the most regular alarm clock I have had in the last 5 years, Hanna, my 5 year old daughter. Hanna is having fun exploring all 1000 square feet of my new apartment in downtown Boston, actually the area is The West End. This morning she woke me and Ayden up by turning on the garbage disposal with no running water.

We showered together and she helped me pick out what I would wear to my first day at Millennium. I was having a good morning, I looked good and I felt good and I was excited for my first day at work. My first day to work, actually for 3 months. I had time to prepare breakfast for both girls, eggs and waffles with a side of chocolate milk, before my short commute to Cambridge.

It was raining pretty hard, so I borrowed Ayden's umbrella and headed for the lobby, as I walked out the front door and tried to expand the umbrella, the top popped right off the pole. I laughed and thought, oh well, I'll drop into the first little store on the way. So I enjoyed the slightly cool spring rain on my face for my two block walk to the T, Boston's version of the subway. I had another 4 blocks to walk once I arrived at Central Square in Cambridge. I thought to myself, the rain will be good for my complexion. Of course there were the orientation photos, for security badges and for posting on the corporate website. There is a reason those photos are always so bad.

Orientation was long, but exciting, my good mood lasting even through the most droll of presentations. In reality, I am just grateful to be here. Grateful for the opportunity that this job offer presented. My blank slate. New job, new town, new marital status, new friends, new me, old me, re-aquainting with an old friend lost to marriage. Happy to be alone, not happy to be alone. Blank slate.

My commute home was even more wet than the commute in. I had water dripping from my hair as I entered Central Square station. The T was delayed as it crossed the Cambridge Ave Bridge. Sitting in my seat, with water dripping into my lap, I looked up and out of the window at the gray Boston skyline and smiled. I noticed a group of friends heading into Boston for the evening, chatting and laughing. I looked out of the window at the Charles River and watch the Harvard Crew Team rowing down the river. Such a romantic sight. I smiled again and thought...

This is Mine, better start writing on that Blank Slate.