Thursday, April 10, 2014

Surviving the Big D: Letting Go of the Dream House

There are some things I will never forget about my first house, my ‘dream house’ (at the time).  It was 5 bedrooms, 2 ½ baths, in ground pool, garage, privacy, deck off the kitchen.  I never thought I could afford a place like that, and even still as difficult as it was to negotiate the purchase, it was just as easy to walk away from it during the separation and then the divorce.  The house was just an item, it didn’t have sentimental value other than my negotiating skills hard at work but some memories still linger of a place I only spent a few short months in.

  • Never use the sellers agent as your own – they can’t help you negotiate or give you an idea of a ‘best and final’ ball park figure.
  • The day of the walk thru (which is usually the day or night before the closing), a bird crapped on my shoe, I figured it was a sign that my dad approved.
  • On the day we got the keys, my now ex-MIL was waiting in the driveway (and we hadn’t even used the keys yet) Not Cool!
  • I moved us in, met with Pest Control to get rid of any present and future insects (as much as my phobia of spiders and bees I did this from the driveway while the guy took care of business)
  • Although the gesture was very thoughtful, people should ask the homeowner what if anything they need first before they buy or offer to buy outdoor patio furniture (don’t just show up with one that’s not even their taste with a “Surprise, we got you a patio set from Shop Rite”)
  • On the day of the first family bbq…my ex inlaws were giving tours of the house as if it was their own (sorry you don’t pay the bills you will not give the tour)
  • I held my first family Christmas from all sides (trying to bring back childhood memories when both sides of the family met at one house – no toting us around door to door).  This does not include Christmas morning because that too was at someone else’s house (which I promised I wouldn’t bitch about anymore in a few past postings) J
  • I’ll always pay extra when replacing the windows to make sure the contractor also completes it with trim and painting the trim.
  • I will not miss finding frogs from the creek behind the house in the pool filter
  • The round trip commute from Rt.80 to 206N was a bitch - my commute now is 10x better.

Where I live now I think I’ve stayed the longest in (not including my childhood), and I’ve unpacked all the boxes. There isn’t a ‘staging’ area like I once had in one of the spare guest rooms in my ‘dream house’.  I guess that was another sign it wasn’t my ‘dream house’ after all.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Insanity vs T25: My Reviews

I’ve decided to do a little QA on two do-it-yourself home DVD workouts both by Shaun T.  First I tried Insanity (30-45 minute workouts), which I must say I must have been insane to spend that amount of money to continually jump around in my living room.  Most of the circuits involved plyometrics (high impact jumping), the rest in my opinion was ok, nothing I didn’t do before.  The DVDs consisted of multiple exercises done in a slow interval, fast interval, then super fast interval (without a modifier).  I found the super fast interval completely insane even for myself who considers herself an athlete (others may view playing softball in 104 degrees as insane but not to me).  Anyway, I took a liking to 2 of the Dvds that didn’t involve plyometrics, other than that I felt I wasted my money.  Thankfully I was able to resell it on Amazon.

Mind you, I am not a gym rat, I prefer the flexibility of working out at home (and I have the discipline and accountability).  I have a treadmill, total gym, stationary bike, mats and free weights.   I keep a daily workout journal to keep myself on track.  I’m a huge fan of Jillian Michaels, Bob Harper, Jackie Warner, Tony Horton (P90x shoulders and abs dvd) etc.  none of which have easy workouts.  I run, cycle and play softball so doing these calendar based circuit exercises wasn’t something new, I’ve always exercised but the cardio I was doing was getting boring.  I thought by giving Insanity a chance it would make things more interesting and tighten things up a bit.  I was wrong, my knees hurt, my back hurt and most of all I wasn’t enjoying the exercises.  So I went back to basics, and started speed intervals on the treadmill and stationary bike.  This fall I decided to give his latest and greatest set Focus T25 a chance (25 min workouts).  I checked out the circuits on Youtube first so I wouldn’t be wasting my money on exercises that weren’t fun and would cause me a lot of pain (e.g. too many plyos).  I decided to follow the calendar this time which I didn’t do in Insanity because again I wasn’t having any fun. 

Week 1 I completed without a problem, although the weeks after became difficult to do consecutively (never start a program during the holidays and if you do always continue the calendar the next day).  In a way I felt pressured to get all 6 workouts in (2 on Fridays) yet with my work schedule and other responsibilities I found that doing whatever I could that week, and doubling the exercises when I could, even if I had to move it to the following week to continue was worth it.  I was having fun doing Alpha but by week 4 I wanted to use weights.  The cardio was definitely intense, even with the modifier (thank goodness for the modifier).  When I started Beta I was hoping to use more weights, by week 4 I was bored.  I didn’t like one of the Core dvds so I swapped it out for one I liked in Alpha.  25 minutes a day goes by very fast if you are having fun.  The exercises get easier as you work at it, you’ll notice changes in the way your clothes fit (as long as you have a nutrition plan to follow).  I took a ‘before’ picture because I was working on the ‘bikini body’ for vacation.  I definitely see a difference in areas where normal cardio (running and cycling) does not help.  T25 was mostly core exercises, not just targeting one area.  The combination of cardio plus strength, agility and speed, all works your core.  You’ll notice definition (again, as long as you are eating right).  Since I measured when I started end of October I’m down 1 inch on my hips and 2 on my waist (I didn’t have much to lose anyway just to tighten up).  I borrowed the Gamma dvds from a friend of mine and decided not to follow a calendar.  Overall the three I did I liked (Weights – YAY!), the Pyramid one I liked the best because it combines pyramid workouts with cardio intervals in between.  Speed 3.0 is crazy but doable.  Now that I’m done, I have my own weekly calendar of T25 workouts including getting back on the treadmill and my other dvds.


Overall, I would recommend this to a friend (and I did), and for anyone who needs a kickstart to their workout who is short on time.  Do not feel pressured to complete everything scheduled for that week, it is fine if you skip a day or two because of responsibilities and continue with what’s next the following week.  When your workouts start to feel like work that is when you lose interest.  These are fun, and you will not hurt yourself either.  It is definitely worth the money and if you follow the meal plans (clean eating, no processed food, 1 cheat day) and do your homework you’ll see the results!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

No Parking and Plenty of Looney Tunes

An overdue girls night out on an extremely cold night led to an unexpected evening of sorts and a parking nightmare.  Let’s just say that the overall ratio of guys to girls more than decent including the variety of age groups.  It wasn’t like the bars in Morristown, the trust fund babies, those home from college who show up at 11 pm already hammered, there were people older than us at the bar and closing the place out when we left.  I’m so thankful to have friends who will drive to hang out for a few hours, who value a friendship, who will put up with the bar-babies even when we’re not looking for any.  But in our typical Angel fashion we met some interesting Looney Tunes that night. 

  1. Sean – “See those older guys over there, the one with the Irish ‘turban’, they double dog dared me to come over here and buy you ladies some drinks” >> it was actually his father and for once a guy didn’t believe an Angel’s real name
  2. Dougie Houser – “I go to Med School” >>He ordered a Long Island Ice Tea
  3. Metro – “How old are you? You don’t have a ring on you must not be married?” >> He asked all the wrong questions and admitted to waxing his eye brows and manicures once every 3 months
  4. Egghead Jr. – “I just wanted to come over and say you ladies are beautiful, just let me order a drink and I’ll get outta here because your husbands and boyfriends are around here somewhere who will kick my ass” >> He ordered Fireball on ice and gets the nod for best conversation of the night.
  5. Jesse – “You gonna pay my tab too?”  then he paid his tab at the bar with the blond bartender and ended it with “By the way my name is Jesse” >>Thank you Tony Siragusa for making an appearance
  6. Justin – >> he left that much of an impression we don’t even remember what he said
  7. Prick – “OH! OH! You wanna dance?” >> “No thank you”.  I’ve never seen a guy drink from a straw that still had the wrapper on it.

Prick ended the night…the nice bartender came by and asked if he was bothering us.  Apparently he was the trouble token for the night making his rounds.  So the next time he swung around and wouldn’t go away after I deflected his drink from being spilt on us we got ‘security’.  At least I wasn’t given the sign to get my dukes up….this is why we go out with bulky rings on J

Friday, February 21, 2014

Surviving the Big D: Lesson’s Learned

Now that you’ve ‘survived’ here’s your “Lessons Learned” – it’s not easy and it’s another painful experience to go thru but you will survive – hey hey! It will also make you a wiser, stronger person in the long run.

**Disclosure: The following is an excerpt of my experience with my ex, my friends, my family as I went through the divorce.  This does not have any reflection on your current situation.

Do not expect:
The ex to be civil, easy to deal with, able to get things done.  Do not expect phone calls to be answered or returned, certified letters to be received/accepted either.  Sometimes the most important things are never on their priority list.
For your divorce do not go thru a Mediator – he or she will want you both to work it out yourself, this takes longer (took me almost 2 years).  Get a good lawyer, it will all pay out in the long run and there will be less frustration on getting things done on time since you have legal assistance (and the ultimate threat of ‘going to court’).
Make sure you incorporate due dates into the Property Settlement (it took 5 years for him to refi because I neglected to add ‘due dates’…hence why you should not use a mediator, it also took a letter from a really good Lawyer to push the issue)

What to Expect:
  1. Expect your family not to understand.  Expect them to offer unsolicited advice such as “Have a baby it will fix things”.  No it won’t, it would have made things a lot worse and more difficult. 
  2. Expect friends to disappear and take sides.  The ones that stick around were you true friends in the long run.
  3. Expect to be abandoned by your married with children friends.  You were once part of their network because you like many others were married and expecting to have children.  Now you are single and without children, they may not want to hang with you or be a part of your new life. **I do not know how it is when you have children, I can only speak from my experience. This hurts at first, but it is okay, you will again realize who your true friends are, you will also make new ones.
  4. Expect to feel like an outcast for a little while.  I hid from co-workers and some friends for a very long time, I did not want them to know my business, what was going on.  You’ll feel like you’ve done something wrong and this is ok.  What you’ve done was try to make it work, it didn’t so you moved on to find your happiness.  Life is too short.
  5. Expect to feel like this at holiday events – don’t worry you’ll get used to it and they’ll get over it.
  6. Expect to be the poster child for a “Plan B”.  Expect your unhappily married friends to ask you ‘how did you do it?’ what process was needed, the pain, pitfalls, emotional stress, etc.  It’s okay, everyone needs support and its best to get it from those who already went through that experience. You may even get a referral to use their lawyer.
  7. Expect changing your name back to be a PITA.  See what I wrote back in 2010 here.  Note to future self: if I cannot write my future next husband’s last name in one fluid motion (not breaking it up into multiple parts just to dot ‘i’s’) then I know it won’t work out.
  8. Expect men from your past (who you may not have dated) to come out of the woodwork and profess their undying love for you.  Stalkers included.
  9. Expect your parents, grandparents, other family members to take more time to get over it than you.  They may not understand the situation, they may ask you if the two of you still talk.  Be patient with them, they will eventually get over it and accept the new love in your life.
  10. Expect to be bitter (for a while) until you seek your happiness/closure.  Question newly engaged couples, putting bets on relationships, telling ‘bachelor’ and ‘bachelorette’ parties to make sure ‘she doesn’t eat the cake’.  (Yes I still do this, I’m a true believer that eating the cake is evil)

and now that you’ve got your own place:
  • Expect men from your past to come out of the woodwork now that you are single and own a place, especially those who are renting, living at home or have roommates.
  • If you do not get the closure you are looking for – write him a letter.  I did, but I never sent it.

And most of all, when you are comfortable talking about it, when all the signatures are dry, due dates are met, papers are filed, tell your story to help others.  For me, its closure, its telling my side of the story to help myself, to get it off my chest, to help others who may be going thru this even if I went thru this 7 years ago.  Some would rather stay together and be miserable but life is too short to be anything but happy.

This ends my ‘Surviving the Big “D” Series’, a story of how I survived, what I experienced, learned, and am now talking about. I moved out of the apartment, bought a house (mortgage is cheaper than rent), bought the right car (I bought a 4 door pre-divorce which sooo wasn’t me), am in the best shape of my life, have my head screwed on straight and am back to doing what I love, what makes me happy and that includes spending time with my friends doing what we do best.

I hope this brings those who have gone thru a divorce and are currently going thru a divorce some comfort in knowing ‘you are not alone’, ‘you will get thru this’ and most importantly ‘you will have a happier life’.

To read the entire series visit the links on the right hand side under “Surviving the Big “D” Series”

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"How's your commute" Guy Makes the Blog

For those of you who I don’t talk to on a social basis, there’s an older gent at who had been inquiring about my commute to and from work on a frequent basis.  Just to give you an idea of what he looks like he does occasionally die his "I'm in my 60's white hair".  More or less every time he saw me in the halls he’d ask, “How’s your commute?” At one point he insisted he was moving out this way so that was the reason for the inquisition.  Honestly three years of the same question was getting old.  Now today, he was in the neighborhood  and actually stopped by my desk to not ask me about my commute, but this time, it was about the time it takes. I politely told him, “With my foot, about (insert estimated time) minutes.” “Oh but you get here really early.” “Um yeah I do. Trust me, not sitting in traffic does wonders for your attitude.”  I know to those of your reading this it sounds boring, but to me, he was invading my ‘dance’ space.  You know, he was the fruit fly you couldn’t find to kill, although every time you go in the kitchen you see it.  He continues to tell me he was dating someone in the town that I presently live in (how did that even enter into the non-existent conversation), how interesting the people are, how he frequents this one restaurant (so now I know never to go there on the weekends).  I tried to acknowledge him politely as I put my coat on because it was my quitting time “Good for you, “ “You mean the amount of people that have teeth and those that don’t, “ “I really hang out in NJ more than I do in PA but thanks for the recommendation.”  I couldn’t get away fast enough.  To top it off he weaseled his way in scoping out the pictures on my desk and asked, “Is that your son?” as he pointed to the one picture of my nephew and myself (hence why I only post and display pictures of him with me in public).  Now I was ready to leave and my sarcastic response scale was getting up there, “No, that’s my nephew.” “Oh he’s cute, he looks like he could be yours.” “Thanks, I can always borrow him if I ever need to show up to a party with a child.” 

Unfortunately I forgot how I got out of this inquisition, you know how did it end, how did I sneak out? But fortunately I thought about writing this the entire time on my ride home because I haven’t written anything about annoying-hows-your-commute guy who will never see this anyway.  Perhaps at the next bbq I’ll show up with my ‘son’ and just confuse everyone!  

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Surviving the Big D: Dating

They say the only way to get over someone is to get involved with someone else.  Yes, okay maybe when my head is screwed on straight and I know what end is up, then ask yourself “What do I want/don’t want in a relationship this time?”  Usually the ink is dry by now or at least in the process of.  Many potential ‘dates’ do not want to get involved with you seriously (for more than just a date-date) if they think there’s a slight chance you could get back with the ex if all the T’s aren’t crossed and papers aren’t filed.  There should be no loose ends when you get back into the dating world.  You should not be dependent on the ex for anything – cut all ties and most of all you should be over him/her.  “Getting back together” at this point is not an option – no matter how much your family liked him/her.

Now I’m not against dating right away, you can venture out with your friends and meet people.  The rules haven’t changed (just technology), but they will seem foreign to you, again it’s just like riding a bike.  You did it before, you can do it again.  This time there’s the online dating universe which you really have to weed through, it’s also best to do it with a good friend as a screener.  This way if someone is really trying to scam you by posting their picture from 10 years ago and your friend happens to meet them before you at least you have a warning.  Yes that actually happened (I may have written something similar in the “Starting Fires” blog with my Shrek reference and continued into “Another Saturday Morning Cartoon”).  Dive right in, fill your calendar, practice, learn and you will find someone.  You may even find someone while you are waiting for someone else to show up at the restaurant.  You can’t think of the dating world right out of a divorce as hoping to find Mr./Mrs. Right Again right away, it’s not realistic.  It should be the furthest thing from your mind until your head is screwed on straight and you have direction in your life.  I’ve known too many people who jump right to #2, or #3 right out of a divorce, amazing how many have gotten remarried within a year or 2 of a divorce and some divorced again. I’m not saying they didn’t find Mr./Mrs. Right Again but you do need to figure things out for least I did. 

I dove into the online dating scene after my divorce on three different sites, when one wasn’t working for me, I signed up for another one.  Dates that never got past the 2nd date-no sparks.  Dates that didn’t last 2 months.  Dates that got weird – doesn’t matter which site you use, they are almost all the same.  You do have to kiss a lot of frogs (again) and yes they are all out there, I’m sure a few of those ‘winners’ made it on the blog at one point.  Once you’re out in the scene and things aren’t going as planned notice your dating patterns – are you still attracting the wrong guys?  Are you sending out the wrong signals? Are you wearing the wrong clothes (i.e. too conservative/too much cleavage)?  Chances are it could be you.  If you keep buying the same cereal you’ll never discover the next one on the shelf.  Learn from your mistakes, write down your requirements.  Did you have a bad divorce? What do you want now?  (You can refer back to the beginning of the ‘Surviving’ series and read the “Requirements” for hints.)  You weren’t put here on this earth to settle if it doesn’t make you happy.

Those dating stories that you bring back to your friends (single/married etc) are the ones you share over drinks and laugh about.  We all have learned from each other’s mistakes in the dating world, there are plenty of books and online blogs out there to help you too.  I’m a total advocate that if you meet Mr. M and he asks you out there’s no reason why you can’t accept a date for the next night with Mr. Y.  Right? Why not?  You are weeding through what’s out there, even if it’s online dating or getting fixed up by friends until you meet one who you only want to spend your days and nights with.  If you’ve been out there recently with single friends there are slim pickins to what you find out at a bar (at our age) so you have to find other means.  So date online, fill your calendar with every flavor possible, go to dinner, have coffee, meet people, let your friends fix you up, take notes from Steve Harvey (yes the grocery store after 8 pm does have single men food shopping on certain days of the week) - when you’re ready for Mr./Mrs. Right Again it will happen.

I can’t pinpoint the exact point when my head was screwed on straight to get back out there, but it all fell into place as it should have (after the ink was dry and the T’s finally crossed) and my heart is where it belongs. ;-) 

Monday, January 6, 2014

The 'Cost' of Friendship

Throughout the years I’ve lost friends, or they wrote me off because our lives were not going in the same direction and vice versa.  Many of my good friends got married, had children and I too was married at one point without kids, now divorced without kids.  How were we going to get along? Very easy, how did we become friends in the first place?  Yes this is something the girls talk about when we’re together, the married, the single, the divorced, separated ones we talk about it.  We talk about the friends we have lost because they refuse to leave their town to go out and have a good time.  We talk about the friends we have lost because we’re the only ones not talking about our children at their bbq.  We talk about the friends we all can’t hang out with at the same time because someone doesn’t like the other one or whatever gripe it may be.  We talk about them because we can’t figure out why they wouldn’t want to go out with their friends.  But we get together to talk, to chat, to catch up.   Yet I find it funny that once their children get older, they all of a sudden have time for you, years have passed by and they think its okay now to catch up.  I’m still not sure how I feel about that because so much time has gone by and no effort was ever made on their part (no Christmas cards, no text conversations, no emails).  If they truly wanted to catch up, there’s 9 digits to dial, an email or a text to send, a halfway between houses to meet up where the husband watches the child for a few hours.  It all comes down to how important is that friendship.  I’m not saying that all parents are like this, just using it as an example.

I too have had a schedule full of softball games or other hobbies I am interested in, and I may live an hour from most of my friends, but at least I put it out there, even if that means meeting up after work.  For example, three weeks ago, because I know scheduling things with friends with children have to be done ahead of time, I text a good friend of mine about today for lunch.  I heard nothing back.  I’ve extended the same olive branch in a few Christmas cards to others with no response either.  Nice huh?  When do I stop putting in the effort?

I can say the same for some of my single/separated/divorced friends (with and without kids).  Try a month in advance, a few weeks to days in advance to plan something, come up with a date that’s set in stone, find a place to go, then day of I get the cancellation.  Yes this can happen to anyone and everyone who has heard all the excuses in the book.  Yes you can try to appease the situation and hope for next time, but when next time this happens again, then again and again ‘when do I stop putting in the effort?’ At what point do I end the friendship?

I’ve made efforts to drive to my friends’ houses, meet them halfway, but some of them (not all) won’t pay it back.  I shouldn’t always have to be driving to your house to go out or better yet, pick the place to go out by you when I don’t even live there.  I shouldn’t have to pick you up and drop you off when you don’t make the effort to do the same.  There are no excuses and I’ve realized that real friends compromise and make the effort no matter where you are in life, what state you’re in, how far you have to drive, even if it means rescheduling until you meet up.  Chances are if you get a ‘reschedule’ request, most of the time you end up going out anyway and making new friends (maybe next time I’ll send the ‘rescheduler’ a bill).