Mom · Moving forward

White feather

I’ve been struggling trying to find a way to stay in my house after my divorce but have hit roadblock after roadblock until finally crying uncle and deciding the heck with it, I’m just gonna sell it, split the proceeds and be done with it all. Since that decision, I have been looking for a rental, preferably in the park I currently live, but I also like the 55+ park next to this one called Bulow Plantation. 

This afternoon I went and looked at a darling 960 square foot furnished bungalow on a canal with a cozy shaded lanai that I will rent for at least six months, possibly longer. The owner is a travel nurse (similar to my daughter) and may extend her job into next June. It is quiet and peaceful and just what I think I need at this point in my life. Now to the interesting part:

The address is 65 Whitefeather. Just for fun, I thought I’d look up the spiritual meaning of “White Feather.”

“Many Christians believe the appearance of a white feather has an angelic connection. Some believe their guardian angel is communicating with them and offering a message of love, comfort, hope, and peace. There can also be a strong feeling of angelic energy associated with the presentation of a white feather, especially when it has no logical reason to be where the person finds it.”

And this:

“Finding a white feather could mean any of the following:

  • Angels are near: The first meaning is simply that angels are nearby. This could be someone they know who passed on or a patron saint.
  • Watching over you: The most common meaning is that a loved one is watching over you. If you’ve recently lost someone close to you, this is a source of comfort.
  • Peace: White feathers are also a symbol of peace, even if you’re not a religious person.
  • Everything is okay: Lastly, a white feather is a reminder to stay faithful. Everything is going to be okay with time.” 

Yes, Mom, I’m finally listening.  đź’“

Moving forward

I know there’s a forest … I can see the trees.

This past January, we discovered mold growing in the laundry room and master bathroom due to a slow but steady water heater leak that caused excessive damage to two rooms and triggered a wicked case of eczema in me that has lasted for months. With the tear-out and dry-out period, we were without hot water for weeks on end, eventually having to move my 95-year-old mother back to Michigan the first week of February. By the first week of March, she was dying, and my life has not been the same since.

Now it’s the end of April. It’s nearly eight weeks since mom died. Since then I have stayed with my cousin at Lake Huron, my brother in Fort Myers, with my daughter in New Mexico, or with a friend in Ormond Beach; anywhere but at my own home where my soon-to-be ex-husband has been holed up in his tv room busily packing up his 3,000 DVDs in preparation for his move to a new apartment 60 miles away. It finally happened on April 19th, and I still don’t feel like I can take a deep breath.

My hope has always been to stay in this house. I love this area, my neighbors, and this home, especially with half the furniture out of it. But it’s not to be. And aside from the dread of having to sell most everything in it, it’s just stuff, and stuff can be replaced. I’ll rent something furnished and lighten my load. It’s probably for the best in the long run. I don’t think I want to own a home anymore. Too many things can go wrong, and now it’s just me. And I really don’t want to have to think about all that.

It seems each of these past four months began with, “I just have to get through this month.” But today is May 1, and I just have to get through this next month. Hopefully, at the end of it, I will have sold this house, seen my ex-husband in the rear-view mirror, and found a new place to live. Maybe I can start to look forward to the beautiful days in this wonderful area that have been too long ignored. I want to enjoy short and long trips back to Michigan and Oklahoma, go kayaking again, meet up with friends for dinner or drinks, or perhaps just do nothing at all. I’m going to get past the stress from these last four months and remember to be grateful every day for the many, many blessings I have.

I know I’m standing in the middle of the forest. I’ve been standing in the middle of it for months. And with each event, I say, “I cannot see past this.” And yet it passes. So again, I cannot yet see past this. But I know the days will pass, the house will sell, the divorce will happen, and I will move on to be on my own once again to find my way out of the trees.

Childhood · holidays · Moving forward · Thoughts

And so it begins…

It’s that time of year again. I can’t complain since last year was COVID where nothing was the same as before. But it does seem like ‘it’ starts earlier and earlier every year. Where I live in a 55+ community, I actually saw a Christmas tree in the window of a neighbor’s home around Halloween.

When I was younger, every holiday seemed like a separate event to me. Now, with retailers so aggressively promoting Christmas earlier and earlier, it feels like all the preceding holidays take either a back seat, or they are simply whizzed through to get to The Big Event. Interestingly, while shopping for Thanksgiving dinner, I searched high and low for decorations for the table and a little something for the yard. I went to Hobby Lobby and Michael’s and found nothing! (I didn’t try Walmart. I just can’t.) When did they stop Thanksgiving displays?

And so now the outside Christmas decorations are beginning to go up around me. I’m tempted to join in. In fact, I was this close to putting up the tree for Thanksgiving! You have to understand; when we were kids – hand to God – we did not get a tree until Christmas Eve! (Of course I now realize it was because the trees were so cheap by then.) We would then spend the day happily decorating it, totally oblivious to the fact that this was not what every other family did.

Thank God I have a robust relationship with Amazon. I have been Christmas shopping for months. In fact, I’m pretty much done but for a few things here and there — oh, and stocking stuffers. So it’s not like I didn’t know it was coming, and coming fast. It’s just that when it does come so fast, I somehow want to slow it down, kind of stave it off for as long as I can, not because I don’t like Christmas, but because I do.

I wonder if it’s because these end-of-year holidays are just that. They are the beginning of the end of the current year, rolling us into the next. It feels sometimes like it’s an accelerating somersault that begins with Labor Day and rolls us through Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, only to land us seated, feet splayed, hands braced, and eyes crossed, bracing us for the new year where we’ll start all over again.

Florida Fun · Moving forward · Us

Am I ready for a retirement community?

After years of raising a family, a career as a freelance court reporter, and trying my hand at different jobs, the end of my marriage prompted a move to Florida. During a five-year stint at a job I loved, I met my last love. He was retired and wanted me retired, too. I was 63.

As a younger version of myself, I always had a difficult time picturing myself in my 50s, much less my 60s. But I was blessed with good genes and a quick metabolism, so aside from three pregnancies, I was able to pretty much maintain my weight and thus my activity level. I have never felt myself age. It just happened. Kinda suddenly, in fact.

A couple years ago, after I bit the bullet and left hospice, my LL and I took a day trip to The Villages south of Ocala, Florida. Coming from my experience with online dating, I’d heard all the horror stories about the high incidences of STDs at The Villages. Not really knowing what to expect – were people running around with boils? – I have to admit I was truly blown away by everything we saw at this retirement community so often read about. These people didn’t seem old. They were golfing, walking, dancing, socializing, enjoying adult beverages and laughing with each other. Rather than a retirement community, it seemed like one big outdoor party, and I wanted to get invited!

Friends of ours recently moved there. We’re hoping to visit for maybe a long weekend come spring. We know we like the atmosphere. Whether or not we could afford to live there is another thing. Plus, we have grandkids here now, and it’s a couple hour drive away. But should that stop us? They moved all the way down here to be by family, and then we move? I get it. But, hey, we’re retired. We should be able to come and go as we please at this stage. On the other hand, I would miss the kids terribly, miss seeing the grands grow, miss the whole ‘family’ thing, too. We’d only be a couple hours away, but it’s not the same, and I know it.

Even thinking about it I’m plagued with Catholic guilt (see previous post). Though I know my kids only want us to be happy, I’m not sure they want us happy that far away. When all is said and done, if I just think about what I would like and what would be good for us as a couple, if I’m going to be retired, that’s the retirement community I’d choose.

Moving forward · Randomness

FSBO – yay or nay?

Anyone who has ever sold a home knows how valuable a realtor can be. But is a realtor, even a good one, worth 6 percent or more? Think about it: Say you list and sell your home $250,000. 6 percent of $250,000 is $15,000! Add to that title costs and all the other fees associated with the sale, and we’re talking upwards of $20,000 right off the top!

In the past year we have sold two residences; one, a 2/2 condo, and the other a much sought after 3/2 pool home under $300,000. The condo went with an agent, and arguably, trying to sell amid the COVID crisis was challenging at best. I barely broke even and, after realtor fees and other costs, I limped away with a paltry sum. So when we were ready to list our pool home, we decided to try it ourselves. There are plenty of FSBO sites online, and after much research we settled on Houzeo.com. Beginning in October of 2020, we went through the very clear steps of listing with a Houzeo rep to get our place on the Northeast Florida MLS and immediately, within 24 hours, we had an offer. We were thrilled! After going through the many steps of document signings, appraisals, and inspections, within the required 15 days, they backed out.

It went back on the market and again, two days later, we had a second contract signed. After another round of document signings (thank God for e-sigs), appraisals, and another inspection, we felt pretty good about this deal. And again, 15 days in, their agent called to tell us they never mentioned they needed to sell their house.

Is this where a realtor earns their keep? From what I’ve heard, this isn’t typical for two deals to fall through within a month of each other. Both buyer’s realtors apologized profusely, and both said they’ve never had this happen to them before.

What we discovered during this time was that all of the potential buyers were from north of us. We learned through a couple local agents who brought customers through that they never saw our listing on our local MLS. That wasn’t going to work for us, so we contacted Houzeo and insisted they find us an agent who could list our place locally as well as regionally. And back on the market it went again.

The third time was a charm, a cash deal from someone who never actually saw the house. We got our asking price, plus they paid all the typical seller’s title fees, and their title company even came to our home for the closing. Though this ended up being pretty painless, I wasn’t going to count any chickens prematurely and, feeling a bit gun shy, we didn’t tell anyone about this third contract until after the deal was done.

Would we do it again? Probably. FSBO saved us close to $20,000. And while there was a lot of angst and hours involved, I think it’s definitely worth another try.

I’ll give it a YAY!

Moving forward · Randomness · Us

Kissing frogs (aka Online Dating)

Ohmygod. Where do I start? I guess I start in 2016, unattached, independent, and looking for love in all the wrong places. When you’re past middle age, where the heck do you meet someone of the opposite sex? I’m way beyond the bar scene, even though that scene is quite active here near the beach. But I never settled into a local church, I don’t have school-aged kids, and my hospice job exposed me to mostly women. Most of my friends were either married or didn’t know any eligible men.

Enter online dating. Zoosk, POF (Plenty of Fish), Match, I shudder just to think of them. But truly, at the time and even now, it’s probably the single best way to get yourself out there and start meeting people. I know many, many now married couples who met the same way, and yes, they all have their horror stories, just like me.

It was to my great advantage that I grew up with eight brothers. Men don’t intimidate me even when they’re trying to be intimidating. And so I was able to view the pompous retired Army commander in much the same light as the pitiful Uber driver (“I’m in transportation”) or the starving artist. I discovered there definitely is such a thing as a mid-to-late-life-crisis in men. These are the men who divorced, sold everything they didn’t lose in the fight, and now live on a boat. There were too many of them to count, but I always wished them great luck.

After more than two years of online exposure (not a solid two years; I took breaks of months at a time), I was actually getting pretty savvy about the whole process. I found the fakes quickly by copying and pasting one of their photos into Google Images. Funny how that same great-looking guy is everywhere! And with different names! Or I would copy and paste part of their written profile into a Google search and see it appear on various sites, word for word. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google are all great places to investigate potential dates. Pictures speak a thousand words, but the real-life person can leave you speechless when they look nothing like said pictures. (That’s awkward.) Then there’s the multitude of men who would spend hours talking my ears off and then walk away knowing little to nothing about me.

Probably my most interesting discovery (duh) was that an inordinate number of these men simply wanted sex. Or they wanted to talk about sex. Or they thought if they fed me, they’d get sex. I suppose dinner is cheaper than a hooker, but really? I often felt like I was back in high school in the front seat of the car where some guy is trying to make out. I discovered from one ‘gentleman’ that the price of him helping me replace my thermostat was sex. (I settled on a YouTube video.) I’m not sure who some of these guys think they are, but spending any amount of time with them explained why they were still single.

With MY prince!

I did meet several really nice men; a couple actually became friends. But I think I knew when I met Mr. Right. I can still see his smile as he came out of the beachfront restaurant to greet me, and our good-night kiss is etched in both our minds. Was all that weirdness worth it? Definitely. Would I do it again if I had to? I don’t think so, but who knows? It’s scary putting yourself out there. It takes guts. You have to keep your confidence high and your expectations at least reasonable. But I am thankful every day there are online dating sites at our disposal, because really, there are some pretty great people out there looking for the same things we all are. You just have to kiss a few frogs before you find them.

Moving forward · Randomness

There are no winners here.

I don’t typically engage in political dialogue. There’s nothing to be gained by a conversation expecting to change someone’s thinking. It just rarely, if ever, happens. So I suppose this is as good a place as any to voice my opinion without too much repercussion.

I am a registered Independent. After my favorite president (Reagan) left office and very post 911 – post us all banding together when Americans briefly felt united after the terrorist attack – what was once considered ‘news’ became more and more opinion with both sides telling us what we should think (like them!) and why. Except the ‘whys’ were usually biased and often interjected with fearmongering and speculation. As the years progressed, it only got worse and more vocal, more obvious seemingly to everyone but them.

Now that the election is over (practically), I will finally admit that, after much listening and reading, I cast my vote for the single-most ill-equipped individual to ever grace a podium. I am with you if you believe President Trump, as a person, is a tactless, mouthy, brash and narcissistic human being. If there ever was an antithesis of Ronald Reagan, it is Donald Trump. I often hear, “He’s no politician.” And a truer statement could never be made. But honestly? I think that’s why I voted for him!

I’m sick to DEATH of politicians; the slick-talking, tell-’em-what-they-wanna-hear, say-anything-to-get-elected politicians who, without flinching, play into Americans’ paranoia and fear that they, themselves create, making lame promises of change they assure will happen, all the while knowing THE BIG SECRET: Just get elected, then do whatever the lobbyists paid you to do. As despicable as Mr. Trump is, I truly believe he’s in nobody’s pocket. Who would have him? And I believe he has the best interest of America – not himself – at heart. Who better to head the business of running a country than a successful, smart businessman? Should someone have banned him from Twitter and all social media? You bet. The man’s a social idiot. But he’s the best idiot around for the daunting job of getting this country moving again.

President Joe Biden? Please. I give it a year, maybe a year and a half, and Kamala Harris will be stepping in, pushing her near-socialist agenda with the full support of the leftist media and social platforms. I have nothing against Ms. Harris. As an American, I sincerely hope she is successful running the country. But I pose these questions:

  • After eight years of Barack Obama, why was the African American community no better off than before he took office? I’ve never heard a good answer to that question.
  • If Antifa really was an independent group, why so quiet after the election? Did ‘their guy’ get in?
  • Wasn’t it reverse discrimination that got Ms. Harris her position? Can you imagine the uproar had she been a white woman? (Perhaps Antifa might have been vocal then?)
  • With the COVID-caused unemployment rate hovering around 13%, would you rather have a successful businessman or a lifelong politician in charge of your family’s future?

Frankly, I think President Trump needs to concede this election. Despite very clear instances of voter fraud on so many levels (the most obvious being the dead voters), it’s time to put the election behind us and try to crawl the rest of the way out of 2020. Time will tell in the upcoming months and years whether the elected ticket will fulfill all their promises. But I’ve always been a believer in real-life consequences; you couldn’t ask for a better teacher than the real-life consequences of the choices you make. Coronavirus aside, the voting millennials of today have never suffered through a depression, an energy crisis, vast unemployment, or sky-high mortgage and interest rates. They take what they hear at face value with nothing for comparison in their own lives, and they believe what the biased media tells them. In all honestly, with the COVID-caused unemployment currently, you can bet I’d rather have a businessman in office than a life-long politician in the pockets of self-interest groups.

I just want it over. All of it. COVID, the election, the crazy weather (I live in Florida). No one will come out of 2020 unscathed. Believe me, there are no winners here.

Childhood · Moving forward · Thoughts

In recovery.

I was born and raised in the Catholic church. As Irish Catholics, we were all baptized as infants, received the Sacrament of Holy Communion at seven years of age, and at 13 we acknowledged following Christ with the Sacrament of Confirmation. We attended church regularly. Like an ever-expanding parade, my siblings and I would follow Dad, single-file, to the very front of the church and fill an entire pew. If the girls forgot their chapel veils, my mother would place a Kleenex on our heads. We of course had no idea at the time why we were wearing a veil, but we never thought to question. We dutifully confessed our sins weekly through the Sacrament of Penance and knelt and recited by rote our Hail Marys and our Acts of Contrition. We said our rosaries and table grace with the speed of an auctioneer. Steeped in Catholicism, we never questioned that fact until we left home and were on our own and . . . exposed . . . to outside influences.

I have never doubted my faith and belief in God. (Well, maybe once, in college, but it was very brief.) I have always believed that Jesus is my Savior, that he died for our sins and that he will return in the second coming. I have no fear of death because I believe in heaven and hell and life eternal. I try and treat others the way I would want to be treated. I was married in the Church and raised my three children in the Catholic faith. They briefly attended Catholic school until we could no longer afford the tuition. All three received the same Sacraments I did.

But somewhere along the way I began to be disillusioned with the Church. It seemed the longer I was in the Catholic Church, the more I became aware of the intolerance and insincerity that existed most often in those professing to be staunch Catholics. (That’s actually a term often used. ‘He’s a staunch Catholic.’) I started to see the hypocrisy in so many self-proclaimed Catholics with their righteous morality and unchristian conduct. Some of these people were pillars of the parish involved in the Mass, befriending the clergy. Even the bishop showed the true colors of betrayal, at least in my eyes and certainly many others.

That was the beginning of the end for me. I call myself a recovering Catholic. Once a Catholic, always a Catholic. But I discovered it is more important and meaningful to behave as a Christian than behave as a Catholic. I have a relationship with God that I didn’t have before or perhaps had once a week for an hour on Sunday. I currently don’t attend a formal church setting, nor do I feel the need to. I work in hospice, and I see daily in our caregivers the Christ-like behavior God is seeking. Perhaps when you’re repeatedly exposed to true Christian conduct, the falseness of those who flaunt their Catholicism with hypocritical judgment and behavior becomes glaringly apparent.