Taking baby steps

There are some things in life that I’m certain about.  I’m 53, a divorced mother of three adult children and a 9-year-old and I have one granddaughter.

For the past 12 years I’ve worked as a counselor.  Just as most social work types, I believed that I’d be able to change the world.  In some small ways I hope I have.

I’ve been a foster parent for 25 children and an adoptive mother of one.  These children have taught and continue to teach me more than I ever could have taught them.  Through the children in my life, I’ve learned that cinnamon toast does have special powers;  that no matter how late you sit up with a sick child, they’ll still wake up at 6 am; and that regardless how tough they may first appear, inside of them is a scared child wanting more than anything just to be loved.

What I’m not so certain about are the reasons I decided to begin a blog.  Like everyone I guess, I’m still searching too.  Wondering what the heck happened to all of those dreams I dreamed as a child.  When I look honestly at my life to this point, I have achieved some of those dreams.  I’m a social worker and  I ‘ve raised a family.  I’m very proud of those things.

Most recently, this past summer, I achieved a long-standing dream, that of living on a lake.  A ‘shack on a puddle’ is what I used to tell my ex. I just want a little place on a lake somewhere.  The water was a part of my childhood.  My grandparents had a small rustic cabin on a lake in northwestern Wisconsin.  I loved that place.  All of my best memories are there.  Learning to swim like a mermaid; rowing the boat around the lake all by myself; roasting marshmallows by the fireplace; making chocolate chip cookies during a thunderstorm and afternoon naps on the great big bunk bed on the screen porch.

On August 1, 2011 my divorce was final and on August 9th I looked at a home for rent on the lake.  It was much more than anything I’d ever imagined could be possible for me.  My 9-year-old and I prayed and dreamed all that night, hoping that we’d be the renters that the landlord would choose.  The next morning, the phone call came and WHOOO HOOO we got it!  For me this is the most amazing blessing.  A real dream come true.

So I figured that since I’m on a roll.. I should take advantage of this good karma, luck or whatever it is.  I scanned through the other dreams still living in the abyss of hope in my mind.  And I thought I’d try to cram as many dreams into one as I possibly could, thus this blog.

I’ve had a dream to be a writer. Never thinking I really could write in a way that anyone would want to read what goes through my mind or my life.  I did reach out a few years back and took a Creative Non-fiction Writer’s Workshop at a local college.  I loved that class.  Not because I learned that I have amazing talent or anything.  Actually, I learned that I’m pretty clueless as writing goes.  I am a grammatical mess, I confuse past and present tense in the same sentence, and I can run on a sentence longer than most people would think humanly possible.  But.. I love to write.  I seem to have a lot to say, about nothing and about everything.

The point of this, being that I decided to reach out for two of my remaining dreams.  You can’t succeed if you don’t try.  (I think I watched The Pursuit of Happyness one too many times.  Rock on Chris Gardner!)  Dream #2 is to be a writer and Dream #1 is to find true love.  (I can’t help it, I was raised on a well-balanced Disney diet.  Cinderella, Snow White… you get the picture.)

When I got separated a little over a year ago, I made a daring venture into online dating.  It began after watching a very late night tv commercial about being matched with just the right person for you.  Well (eyes rolling here), you know my busy little Disney mind began swirling.  I ran directly to my computer and typed out a profile, clicked submit.  Within several minutes, I was bombarded with pictures and profiles of single middle-aged men, chosen just for me.  It was like going to Old Country Buffet and not being able to find the plates.

Now I don’t always think things through completely.  I didn’t tell anyone that I’d signed on.  I posted a picture on my profile, thinking that the right guy would see my ad and fall helplessly in love at first sight.  It never occurred to me that people who knew me in real life would see it.  Cause I didn’t know anyone in my real life who’d be interested in dating me or vice versa.  Of course karma being what it is, the first person to see my picture was a man from my old hometown who knew my soon to be ex husband.  So it goes without saying that my very first call from a man was from my ex.  He was kinda upset.  Kinda.

His conversation did however make an impact.  I promptly called my girlfriends and told them I was online dating.  Geeez!  I didn’t get a thumbs up from them either.  Tammy is a very non-judgemental person.  By that I mean she won’t tell me directly that I’m being irresponsible or crazier than usual.  I love her for that.  Michele on the other hand balances that out by pointing out all of the possible risks and dangers.  I love her for that, most of the time. Michele was totally certain that there was an ax-murderer lurking outside my apartment, just waiting for me to leave my door unlocked.  You have to keep in mind that in the work I do I’ve never seen a locked door become an impediment to an ax-murderer.  However, I did take both of their comments, suggestions and warnings into consideration as I scanned hundreds of potential dating partners.

Days went by and every free  moment I had, I spent reading profiles.  I paid special attention to the profiles of any man who had viewed mine.  Now, being new at this technological mating system, I didn’t yet realize that the dating site was sending my picture to lots of guys looking for a girl.  Just as they were sending me new pictures of guys every day.  So it wasn’t like they were guys who were really interested in me.  They were browsing and I was browsing.

Several times a day my site would be updated and I’d be able to see just how many men had ‘viewed’ my profile.  The current number as of this writing is well over 1,000.  And you see how I’m spending my Saturday afternoon.  Not walking hand in hand through the fall leaves, not riding on the back of anyone’s Harley, not dancing or singing karaoke.  Dateless.  That’s how I’m spending my Saturday.

But all is not lost, I’ve had a few of what I call “Meet & Greets.”  I’ve even had some dates.  Don’t let me spoil the ending though, because the process is sooo worth hearing about.

As things progressed on the dating site.. I’d tell Tammy and Michele about each contact I find potential in.  They were totally unable to keep up on the details of each guy.  Michele wanted me to make a chart so she could keep them straight.   I started giving the men nicknames or queues to help connect who was who.  Myy girlfriends then became integral in the date picking process.  God knows I’m not good at choosing on my own.

Sometimes there would be two potential dates with the same name so I’d number those.  Like Charlie 1 and Charlie 2.  But it wasn’t long before I was even having trouble keeping track of details.  I had to have something that I could keep track of details but that I could also add to or delete from as needed.  Instead of a chart, I made a binder.  (You can laugh, it’s okay, I can take it.)

I decorated the binder with a Peanuts cartoon. A picture of Linus and Lucy with the caption by Thomas Franklin, “If it were not for hopes, the heart would break” and  “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.  To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeated.” by Helen Keller

Of course I chose the daring adventure , behaving like a free spirit…   hope you’ll join me on the journey to Dreams #1 & 2.


4 thoughts on “Taking baby steps

  1. Ok I had a quick read whilst I ate my porridge this morning…we would get on like a house on fire…..I have gone right back to the beginning of your blog and I am going to read it all…I laughed out loud and you have a wonderful way of writing,a warm that remainds me of Maeve Binchy…I’m right in your kitchen sitting round the table with a cup of tea and we’re laughing…this is good stuff x

  2. Oh Jane, you have paid me a highest compliment. Thank you so very much. I’m so glad you enjoy my writing. You will find humor and drama and tears as well in my writings, because life is a fine recipe of it all.
    I’d love for you to drop by my kitchen for a cup and a chat. You’re welcome anytime!

    • You know it would help if I could type properly. That would then have read the warmth of Maeve Binchy and reminds!!! I may be technically challenged sometimes but I can’t find your name anywhere… life is indeed a recipe and right now a tricky one, but I think us girls become adept at navigating turbulent waters quite well…I didn’t get to read anymore at lunchtime today but I will now – take care.

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