Living Happily Ever After


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The Morning After

“You will never have buyer’s remorse with wood. You can change your furniture, window covering or color scheme, but the wood will always be there and most important, be appropriate. Look at Monticello–the original wood floors there are still magnificent.” (Ellen Paris)

The last hurdle to clear, the last bit of lunacy to confront following my remarriage, was the “morning after.” The very tiny part of me that feared I’d wake up, married to #5, and be seized by thoughts of, “Uh-oh. WHAT have I done?”

I never shared that with #5 though. I thought I was the only one with anything to fear upon awakening. However that night, our wedding night, before we fell asleep #5 looked over at me and expressed a fear of his own: “I have to warn you, with my hair this long, it’s not going to be pretty in the morning. I can’t guarantee what you’re going to see, crazy things happen to it while I sleep, brace yourself.”

Sometimes men and women are from different planets! There I was worrying about the possibility of major “morning after” regret–and #5 was warning me about his morning hair.

The next morning, I woke up. I hesitated for just a moment, a part of me was afraid to lift my eyes from the pillow and face my fear. But then I felt #5′s hand on my arm. I looked over at him. He was smiling, and he got right to the heart of the matter as he asked, ”Well? What do you think? How do you feel? Are you still happy?”

I’d never verbalized my fear, but he always seems to know what I’m worrying about anyway. And in that instant, a wave of peace and calm and happiness with #5 and my choice and the events of the day before washed over me. I detected absolutely NO REGRET. I replied, “I’m happy! And even happier that I have NO buyer’s remorse whatsoever!”

We had a great time in Las Vegas; we had a fabulous honeymoon; and we thoroughly enjoyed our time together. That “morning after” was the last little issue to resolve.

I’ve come to realize that, for me, anyway, ”The things which we fear the most in life have already happened to us.” (Robin Williams, One Hour Photo)

Another beauty of the unexpected life.

Honeymoon Highway

“I went to my room and packed a change of clothes, got my banjo, and started walking down the road. Soon I found myself on the open highway headed east.” (Burl Ives)

Departing for our honeymoon was sort of like that–except #5′s guitar and ukelele remained at home as we headed west!

My wedding had been perfect and absolutely everything I had dreamed it would be. As #5 drove toward our honeymoon destination, try as I might, I could not keep my eyes off him. But not for the reasons you might think.

He talked as he drove, I listened and responded, but I also (discreetly) checked him out. I thought I was being very sneaky about it, but a couple of times #5 stopped talking, looked over at me, smiled and slightly self-consciously (the way you do when someone is staring at you and you can’t imagine why) asked, “What?”

I’d reply, “Nothing. I just can’t believe you’re my husband. I can’t believe I am looking at my husband.” But that wasn’t the entire truth.

After the unexpected life that had become mine, I really couldn’t believe I was married again and that #5 was really my husband. But there was also a part of me that was looking for something else. (Now is where I will probably sound psychotic. But here goes.) I think I was looking for lies.

There was a small part of me (although it got smaller and smaller the longer we were engaged) that feared after loving and trusting #5 enough to marry him, and being unable to see any MAJOR flaws prior to that moment, that as soon as we were married I was suddenly going to be able to see some major red flags or flaws or problems I’d been too blind to discern before. To a small degree, I kept wondering if, or when, he was going to reveal his deep, dark secrets, shatter my world and leave me in a mess, wondering how I was going to pick up the pieces and keep going. Again.

I kept looking to gauge if he looked the same to me, or if he suddenly looked like a stranger now that he was my husband. I attempted to prepare myself for shocking revelations that were coming, so I could handle them the moment they hit and figure out how to help my kids get past them, too.

“It’s like a blind turn on a highway: You can’t see what’s coming, so you don’t really know how to prepare.” (Piper Perabo)

However, nothing came to light. There were no shocking revelations. He just looked totally familiar (and handsome!) to me. In fact, the only unfamiliar thing about him was the shiny metal ring on his left hand that I wasn’t used to seeing! (But I liked seeing it there–I’d never been married to a man who wore a wedding ring.)

So I kept quiet about what I was REALLY thinking–how do you explain serious psychosis like I was having to the man you’ve just married–and pulled myself together during the drive and was over it by the time we arrived at our destination: Las Vegas.

That only left one more fear to face.

My fear of the morning “after.”

More lunacy, coming right up. Tomorrow. Stay tuned.

“And it’s my opinion, and that’s only my opinion, you are a lunatic. Just because there are  a few hundred other people sharing your lunacy with you does not make you any saner.” (Oleg Kiseley)


“One day, out of irritation, I said, you know all of those years with the Royal Shakespeare Company, all those years of playing kings and princes and speaking black verse, and bestriding the landscape of England was nothing but a preparation for sitting in the captain’s chair of the Enterprise.” (Patrick Stewart)

Jean Luc Pickard had it right.

Life doesn’t always turn out how you planned. And you’re not necessarily preparing for the future you envision. I’m not sure why we go through all we do…only to end up in some very unexpected places having experienced some unimaginable things.

But this I do know.

Our experiences teach us valuable lessons—IF we allow ourselves to learn. ”Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God, do you learn.” (C.S. Lewis)

Isn’t that the truth?

I also know this.

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’” (Eleanor Roosevelt)

We’re stronger because of what we’ve overcome. And if we got through something that difficult, we can get through anything—especially the next unexpected new opportunities we’re blessed with!

Late last summer I took my kids swimming at a friend’s pool one Saturday. Afterward, we enjoyed a barbecue. Then we innocently returned to our home after several hours of fun. We walked into the house and noticed a strange humming sound. I thought, “Darn! Someone left the television on when we left. I’ve asked my kids not to do that a thousand times!” and in a bit of frustration, went to the turn the t.v. off. Only it wasn’t on.

My oldest headed down to his bedroom right about that time, got to the basement and cried out. In a panic I raced down the stairs to see what was wrong, got to the bottom of the stairs, and unexpectedly stepped into a puddle of water at least 6 inches deep! The entire basement of our home was flooded! The “humming” sound I’d heard was the dying echo of ruined electronic equipment.

As I stood there, water sloshing against my calves looking at the utter ruin of the lowest level of my home’s interior and its contents, I belatedly thought, “Is it possible to get shocked standing in water with electronics humming and crackling as they float by?” And then thoughts of death-by-electricity fled my mind as I realized I needed to get the water to my home shut off. A pipe must have burst.

But wouldn’t you know, inept single woman that I am, I couldn’t find it? I looked high and low, everywhere I could think of, but I couldn’t locate it. I had my children down there hunting with me and it never turned up. I assigned my son to find a male neighbor who could tell us where the water shut-off valve might be located. He returned with an actual neighbor who helped us find it and shut it off. Then he suggested we look for the pipe that had burst–the source of the water.

Would you believe there wasn’t one? The entire basement was like a giant kiddie pool but there wasn’t a source of water! The ceilings were dry, the walls were dry, but strangely, in one room, there was water spray on everything below four feet in height. It was the craziest thing.

And I learned something about myself: unsolved mysteries (aka. house floods) make me think the darndest things! After hunting high and low with my neighbor for the source of the water, and never finding one, I’m ashamed to say one of my next thoughts was, “Oh my gosh! It has FINALLY happened! A Ponzi scheme victim must have located us, broke into our home, and unleashed their anger at the situation with a hose—by flooding our home!”

That was ridiculous. I put that thought out of my mind and unexpectedly it was replaced it with, “How in the world have we made an enemy like this already? Just one year living in Utah and we’ve offended someone so badly that they’d want to flood our home?”

That’s when I noticed it.

My son’s bedroom window was cracked and broken, pieces were missing. And then I noticed grass floating in the flood, mud and grass splattered everywhere inside my home, and mud and water floating in the window well.

My neighbor and I headed outside to find the source of the water. As luck would have it, the patio and everything outside near the broken window was completely dry. NO trace of water! Where were Fred, Daphne, Thelma, Shaggy, Scooby and The Mystery Machine when I needed them? There was a mystery to be solved.

Another neighbor saw us outside and came over to see if we had noticed the water outside my home. Due to the heat of the day, the outside water had dried up, so we hadn’t seen ANY water. (That was why the situation was so puzzling!) I told him, unfortunately,the water wasn’t just outside my home, the entire interior of the basement was flooded. But at least he solved the mystery for us.

It was entirely unexpected.

There are irrigation wheels in the corner of my backyard. While I was out, a farmer came to take his watering turn and failed to check that the appropriate gates were open when he diverted his irrigation water. He drove away…and my home flooded. I wasn’t home, the farmer wasn’t there, so I didn’t know anything untoward was taking place or needed to be stopped. The water ran and ran. Unchecked. Out of control.

A different neighbor happened to look outside and saw water flooding our cul-de-sac and the connecting streets so filled with water he assumed a water main had broken. Until he tried to locate the source of the “break” and saw a literal river of water running through my backyard, into my home, and into the streets all around it. Just a little house flooding, courtesy of a farmer who failed to check (as they are always supposed to) that the appropriate diversion gates are open. Just one little gate. I NEVER expected that!

I don’t think the farmer did either. As he told me later that night, “I’ve been doing this 30 years and I’ve never had a problem. I never thought to check that the south gate was open. It’s not your fault, it’s not my fault; these things happen. That’s what your homeowner’s insurance is for.” The farmer advised me to get my belongings out of my basement as fast as I could. I never expected that, either.

I stood there, alone, with my four children and thought, “How in the world am I supposed to clear my basement all by myself?” (I was tending a baby at the time, as well.) I was overwhelmed. But that is a great thing about Utah. (Get ready for another one of those, “Only in Utah” moments.) My son went to one neighbor and asked if he could help us move some furniture out of our basement as it had flooded, he came right over, took one look, made a phone call and within minutes, literally, there were 30-40 people from our neighborhood and church congregation hauling our belongings out of the flood and into our front yard. An impossible task was completed in a matter of an hour or so.

I helped, I hauled, and then I confess, I had a moment of meltdown. I escaped to the privacy of my bathroom, called a friend in Denver, CO, and lost it. For a moment there, I was afraid a house flood was going to be my undoing. Silly, I know, but after a year of shock, trauma, and attempted recovery, I was temporarily at my limit.

Thankfully, my friend “talked me down,” we laughed and I put the situation in perspective. Really, after EVERYTHING I had lived through, a house flood wasn’t that big of a deal.



And I knew it.

Sadly, compared to decades of lies, betrayal, crime, drama, divorce, vilification and everything else played out in the media and on a public stage, a flood really wasn’t that big of a deal. I had lived through worse. Much worse. So that’s what I said when people expressed their sympathy regarding the flood. “We’ve lived through worse. Not a big deal. It’s just stuff. It will be ok.”

I never expected the collapse of my family and the public downfall we endured would  be preparation for a flood; would help me keep it all in perspective. But it was. And it did. We’ve certainly survived worse.

In the unexpected life.

Yet still, “I doubt whether the world holds for any one a more soul-stirring surprise than the first adventure with ice-cream.” (Heywood Braun)

Or your first house flood.

Who’s Afraid of The Big, Bad…

“The ads all call me fearless, but that’s just publicity. Anyone who thinks I’m not scared out of my mind whenever I do one of my stunts is crazier than I am.” (Jackie Chan)

I was always afraid of the dark. Even as a little girl, I made the frightful journey to my parents’ bedroom in the wee hours, every night, for protection. I hadn’t overcome that fear by the time I became a mother, so when my former husband traveled for business (ok, now I know that wasn’t the truth, but that is what I thought was taking place back then!) each night I invited my children to sleep in my room under the guise of a “slumber party.” After they fell asleep, I’d shut and lock my master bedroom door and move a piece of furniture in front of it for protection before I crawled into my bed, to lie there with my heart pounding most of the night, unable to sleep.

Crazy behavior, but true. Just ask my friend and former neighbor, Geoff, who got a frantic call from me at 2 a.m. one night in 2001. I will love him forever for not only coming to my home in the middle of a freezing winter night to ensure every room and closet on every floor of my home was intruder free, but for humoring my fear by bringing a baseball bat with him as he searched, as well as for having the good grace to EVER speak to me again after that!

Then my unexpected life began. I was thrust into terrifying darkness that extended beyond the night.  I was scared out of my mind. I didn’t just fear the future or the nighttime (by then, sleep was impossible), I even began to fear the doorbell. Because that meant I’d have to open my front door.

I know fear isn’t always rational, and mine was no exception. I began to fear not just who would ring my doorbell—we had lived through more than our fair share of hostile and angry clients/victims who had appeared at our front door to vent their hostility and rage about what my former husband had done toward me and my children—but what would happen should I dare answer the door? Would someone yell at me, would someone serve me with papers for a frivilous, groundless lawsuit simply because I had unknowingly been married to a criminal or even worse, would someone “snap” emotionally because of their loss…and shoot me? Like I said, my fear was not rational.  However, I had been thrust into a life that had been inconceivable to me, so at that point, I felt anything, including anything scary, was possible. (Violence and threat of violence was also something government officials and attorneys had warned me about. In fact, they checked with me periodically to make sure I hadn’t been threatened and that I felt “safe.” And now this blog proves I wasn’t completely truthful. Oops! No one threatened me, but obviously, I didn’t feel safe! I was just too embarrassed to say it. I felt there had been enough drama.)

One day, the doorbell rang. As I approached, through the frosted glass I could see the blurry figure of a large man wearing a dark jacket and sunglasses. I could see some type of metal, electronic device, possibly a gun, in his hand. I suddenly got VERY afraid. I can’t describe the terror I felt. In seconds I waged an epic battle within myself: answer or not answer the door.

“And so it begins,” I thought. My fears had become my reality.

I realized I couldn’t not answer the door the rest of my life.  And I certainly couldn’t live in fear the rest of my life. So I decided to open the door and face whatever consequence that decision brought me. Even if it meant death.

I grasped the knob and slowly opened the door. I cautiously peered out, prepared to meet my fate, and faced the man. He was tall, muscular, dressed in a nondescript navy jacket (just like I imagine assassins wear), and who knew what manner of evil design was hidden behind his reflective eye wear? I can’t imagine the expression on my face, or what the man saw when I opened the door, because he immediately jumped back, put his hands in the air, and said, “Ma’am! It’s ok! I’m not here to hurt you! I’m just the Schwann man! I’m here to sell you some ice cream!”

I’m sure he had no idea whose bell he had rung, what infamous front porch he was standing on. Although my home had been splashed across televisions nationwide, I guess he was too busy selling Schwann products to have seen it.

Sometimes you just have to shake your head and laugh. At yourself. And the crazy things you fear. Like the ice cream man. Really.

In the unexpected life we face scary things every day. Yet confronting the hard stuff, for me, was the secret to rising above it. In fact, it’s the only way to overcome it: open the door (it can be quite a stunt), look your fear in the eye and if you’re lucky, like me, you’ll find ice cream!

“He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Just ask the Schwann man.

Winter Eventually Becomes Summer…If You Just Don’t Quit

At times in my life I’ve lived through experiences that seemed to be “just like the movies,” for good and for bad.

Like the day Federal Agents drove up to my Colorado home for the first time, in their caravan of dark SUVs with dark tinted windows, and every agent got out of the vehicle they were riding in wearing dark sunglasses and navy blue jackets with “U.S. Marshalls” embroidered on the back. I remember standing at the front window of my home, watching their arrival scene that appeared to be straight out of Hollywood, wondering how it could possibly be my experience. It was completely surreal, yet unfortunately, real; real enough I was terrified.

But there was nothing I could do. I had to be there, I had nowhere else to go, so I simply had to endure it.

In reality, every agent was very nice and respectful. Although my fear never left me (it’s hard not to feel fearful when a bunch of government agents are in your home because you, and everyone else, have discovered the man you’ve been married to for almost 20 years has secretly been committing a crime to the tune of 14 years and 20 million dollars), I got through it.

Sometimes, that’s all you can do.

Get through it despite the fear and uncertainty. Face what you dread. And although it doesn’t make you feel particularly courageous when you’re afraid, I’ve learned that facing your fear and not quitting in its face, is courage in itself.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” (Nelson Mandela)

Some days, getting through the day without quitting means you’ve conquered fear. It’s courageous just to carry on. Even if things don’t turn out the way you hoped. To never quit is brave. To press forward is triumphant. And eventually, the fear goes away. Or you learn that you can survive experiences that are epically fear-inducing and come out just fine on the other side of them, with time.

I’m so glad I never quit, despite the many moments I wished I could have!

Because in those cold, dark moments of dread, indescribable fear, utter humiliation and hardship you’re tempted to think will never end, they do. Life goes on after them. And you learn things about yourself you never knew.

“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” (Albert Camus)

Summer has always been my favorite season.

The Cure for Insomnia

“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?” (Ernest Hemingway)

Not too long ago, a blog reader said she noticed I do my posts in the wee hours; she wondered if I had trouble sleeping.

I thought it was interesting that she had noticed that. But I’ve noticed it too. It seems like such a little thing, yet it is one of a few big changes brought on by the unexpected life.


I remember the good old days, pre the unexpected life, when I could sleep at night, as well as the last night I slept: March 17, 2009. It was the morning after that night, when I woke up and my life fell apart.

Since that time, I’ve had a lot of sleepless nights. I don’t know the sole cause for my insomnia, but it probably had something to do with shock, trauma, grief, stress, strain, worry, fear, financial devastation, life loss, divorce, sleeping alone for the first time in 20 years, and feeling so alone. At first, I couldn’t help but count my troubles like I had once counted sheep. However, that type of score keeping is not sleep inducing. In fact, it is not conducive to anything.

Life’s too short to engage in unproductive activities or behaviors. Time is too precious. So I had to let that go.

Now, instead of counting my worries before I attempt to rest, I count my blessings. I keep a little notebook by the side of my bed and try to take a few minutes at the end of each day to write something I’m grateful for. Every day there is something. You just have to look, and let your eyes see what is right in front of them.

For example, “When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time.  Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?” (G.K. Chesterton)

Most days, I have to stop myself because my hand gets tired from writing so much, or because my eyes begin to blur or because I’ve fallen asleep for a few minutes with the pen in my hand.

And now you have it.

My cure for insomnia, developed under the tutelage of the unexpected life.


“Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.” (Brian Tracy)

Want It More Than You Fear It

“Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it.” (Bill Cosby)

I had a hard time concentrating on reaching a decision. I had some concerns, and until I resolved my concerns, I didn’t feel I could make a decision or trust the decision I made.

I couldn’t believe my concerns.

One of the biggest devastations of my divorce was my belief that I’d had my chance at love, marriage and a whole and complete family, that no one would ever want me again, and that I was destined to remain alone the rest of my life. Yet less than a year after the tragic demise of my marriage and family, I had the opportunity to remarry a very good man who loved me and my children and was willing to take all of us on AND my children loved him. Sounds pretty ideal, especially for a second marriage, doesn’t it?

Yet all of THAT was the problem…for me!

I kept thinking there had to be something false, or flawed, in the opportunity or the man; there had to be something I wasn’t seeing.

I had an issue with the timing. It had happened so “fast.” Less than a year after everything fell apart, it had all come together again. Who has that happen to them? How could I go from such horror and devastation to such a dream, and so quickly?

I expressed this concern to a friend who said, “Andrea, someone like YOU has that happen to them. You lost everything unexpectedly in one day, yet you have risen above hatred, speculation and gossip and have carried on, you’ve sought to remain faithful, you’re doing your best for your children, and you can expect to be blessed for all of that.” She added, “Besides, if you consider how long you’ve actually waited to have a real marriage to the type of man you always thought you were married to…I wouldn’t say it’s fast at all. How long have you been waiting for that?”

Since 1989. Over 20 years.

And suddenly I realized that despite what others might think (those who don’t really know me, those who might judge my opportunity as “too fast” or “too soon”) I knew how long I’d been waiting. My entire adult life. Issue resolved.

I also had a problem with the fact that after all I’d been through, I just “happened to land” in a great situation. My sister handled that one for me. She said, “I have a problem with the fact you think you just ‘landed’ in this great situation. Do you have any idea how many people have worried about you and prayed for you, day in and day out, for the past YEAR? Do you have ANY idea? I have a problem with the fact you seem to think it was your good fortune, chance, or ‘luck’ that brought this to you.”

I instantly humbled myself regarding that one. She was right. I may have had my detractors, but I had also been very blessed with more than my fair share of friends who loved me, cared about me, and did everything they could to help me–including praying for me. That issue was resolved then and there, too.

My final issue concerned the availability of Bachelor #5. If he was so wonderful, WHY was he still around and still single? My sister said, “Maybe he’s still single because he was prepared, and saved, for you. With your past and all you and your children have been through, you couldn’t end up with just anyone, you know.”

I couldn’t argue with that.

So in the end, I quit making excuses. I quit trying to find everything WRONG with Bachelor #5 and the situation. I quit looking for every possible reason not to remarry. I quit hiding behind my indecision.

I decided that I wanted it more than I was afraid of it.

I chose to turn the page of my life’s story and continue on into the new chapter of the fairy tale of my life that I hoped would lead to the happily ever after ending I’d never given up on, that I’d believed in and had sought since I was a little girl. After all of that analyzing, thinking, pondering, worrying and indecision I threw it all out the window and instead, made a choice with my heart.

In the end, it came down to the simplest of concepts and principles that I already knew and had always tried to live by: Faith; Hope; Love; Trust; Commitment.

It came down to this: “Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it.” (Bill Cosby)

I made my decision. Although it had taken me awhile to get there, I loved Bachelor #5 like I didn’t remember ever loving anyone before. So…

Hey-hey-hey, Bachelor #5! It’s time.

I just needed to tell him that.

Like Christopher Columbus

Five days until I moved from Colorado to Utah.

I felt like I imagined Christopher Columbus had to have felt: sailing off the edge of the map, sailing off into totally unknown territory, sailing off from the only life ever known. Columbus, himself, said, “Following the light of the sun, we left the Old World.”

It sure seemed dark in my existence. But I had the light of correct principles I knew to be true to guide me. I knew I was leaving the “old world” I’d lived in for the previous 20 years, and I was going to who knew what? I was scared to death! I wondered if Columbus had ever been afraid. I sure was! I tried not to be. But I wasn’t very successful at fighting my fear.

I just kept going, fearful, but pressing forward and hoping Columbus was right when he said, “By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination.” I hoped that somehow, some way, I would also prevail at what lay before me: an unexpected life.

I looked to other brave explorers for inspiration. Jacques Cousteau said, “Every morning I wake up saying, I’m still alive, a miracle. And so I keep on pushing.” I kept waking up and facing each new day. I kept on pushing too.

I took great hope from another wise bit of wisdom from Cousteau: “If we were logical, the future would be bleak indeed. But we are more than logical. We are human beings, and we have faith, and we have hope, and we can work.” Thankfully, I had been taught to have faith, hope, and to work.

I was facing a journey more daunting than anything I’d ever imagined. It certainly wasn’t a voyage I’d dreamed of, planned for, or wanted to be participating in. But it was mine. My unexpected life.

Looking back, as difficult as it was to live it, it was also something more. It was an opportunity not many people are presented with. I could make of it what I might for myself and for my children. And if I handled it wisely, I could learn and grow to become a better person, and most importantly, I could teach my children how to be successful (how to live and find joy) in any set of circumstances– that’s one of the most important things we have to learn in life, in my opinion. And by helping my children overcome the huge mountain that was now their life, I could do something extraordinary with my unexpected life.

“People do not decide to become extraordinary. They decide to accomplish extraordinary things.” (Sir Edmund Hillary)

THAT is life.

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Paranoid…But Trying To Laugh!

His attorney came to our home within a few days of March 18.  The lawyer warned of media coverage, publicity, paparazzi stalking the house, public questions about ME, etc… With every sentence he spoke, I worried the nightmare was about to worsen.

Shortly after the attorney departed,  one of my spouse’s clients called our home.  Although this particular client had shown up on my doorstep the evening of March 18 moments after my children had been informed about the situation, and had yelled at my children and I when we answered the door and all stood there huddled together crying, I was still stunned when this same client called my home that day and directed his venom toward ME.  He yelled at me and said my spouse was the most despicable man he had ever known.  When he was done ranting, I thought, “It is totally his right to feel that way and believe it, but I don’t know how it’s going to help his situation by subjecting me to it!”

And I laughed as I realized I had politely listened to all of it, didn’t hang up the phone during any part of his tirade, endured his yelling fury, even had the presence of mind to thank him for calling before HE hung up on ME!  My phone etiquette was alive and well.  (My parents would be so proud!)

That afternoon I played outside with my three-year-old and saw a dark Suburban cruise slowly by our house, turn around, and cruise slowly back by.  I guess I’d seen too many crime-themed t.v. shows and movies because I wondered if it was a criminal casing a new opportunity, a reporter, a former client of His, or someone out to do my children and I harm.  I couldn’t believe I didn’t feel safe at home anymore.

Again, I laughed at myself and my crazy fears that seemed to have come out of nowhere.

Later that day I went to my spouse’s office behind our home to get a fax.  When I turned around, my three-year-old was gone.  I hunted everywhere in the yard and on our property but he was nowhere to be found.  I told my spouse of the situation and He joined me in the hunt.  We looked for 30 minutes–the longest 30 minutes of my life.  The entire time I worried an angry client had kidnapped my three-year-old.  I wondered if a client’s loss would be so great that they’d mentally snap and kill my child.  I thought, “I’ve lost EVERYTHING AND my three-year-old!” I fought back waves of panic like I’d never felt before, and thankfully, we found our little son next door.

That time, I was so afraid I couldn’t laugh.

By that evening, when the doorbell rang again, I was in full-blown paranoia.  Through the glass front door I could see a man in a baseball cap and jacket who appeared to be holding some type of recording device.  I debated about answering the door, but finally decided to get it over with.  I braced myself to face a reporter.  I hoped I was in control enough to rely on my professional media training (but seriously doubted I was–it’s different when YOU are in the negative spotlight for something you had no knowledge of and no participation in.) I  thought to myself, “So it has begun,” and grasped the doorknob.

I was SO afraid, but I opened the door anyway, and discovered it was only the Schwann man selling ice cream and other frozen products! My terror must have been written all over my face because before I could speak, the man put both hands in the air and said, “It’s ok, ma’am! I’m just the Schwann man! I’m not going to hurt you!” And he slowly backed away and left without even attempting to sell me anything!

I imagined the story that Schwann man was going to go home and tell that night.  I closed the door…and laughed.

I had become paranoid in less than one day. The insanity of it all made me laugh. And I’m happy to report that I’m still laughing.

Remember:  it’s a choice.

I Am SO NOT AFRAID…of Driving!

I’ve had a few fears in my life, but driving isn’t one of them.

Even as a kid, riding a tricycle on the sidewalk in my dress (remember the 1960s and early 1970s?  LOTS of dresses!  Every day!  Those were the good old days, when people truly dressed for success.  In fact, I have pictures of family picnics in the mountains where the women are all in dresses and the men are in shirts and ties!  But I digress…)

Riding my tricycle, I liked to pretend the sidewalk was the road and that my trike was really a car.  My shiny, sexy (aren’t vehicles always described with that word?) purple trike with the metallic streamers coming out the end of the handle bars…I loved it!  And of course, I LOVED every amusement park ride that offered a mini car to drive.  I sacrificed riding roller coasters for those!  So while some people have a fear of driving, I’m not one of them.

Thank goodness for that, I thought, as I drove from Colorado to Utah to begin my new life post-divorce and post the rest of the trauma I had survived the almost four months previously.  But I couldn’t help myself.  While I drove, with lots of time to think, I thought of things I have been afraid of.

Spiders and Bugs; Snakes and Mice. I didn’t think Denver even had mosquitoes.  And then I moved to a home in the “country.”  Back in 1993, people used to joke I’d moved to Kansas; it was THAT far out there.  I missed the sidewalks and community parks and swimming pools of a planned neighborhood. And then I discovered my new home was also replete with everything I feared.  Giant spiders I thought only grew in rainforests were crawling on my porch.  I found bugs I’d never even seen in museums crawling INSIDE my house!  There were snakes of many varieties outside the house–and one VERY HOT SUMMER, I found two GIANT snakes actually INSIDE the house.  Not to mention the little black things I found that I eventually learned were mouse droppings…when I found mice.  I HATED all of that.

I hired exterminators and pest controllers.  I threatened to move to a hotel until they were completely eradicated from my life.  (You should have seen the exterminators’ reactions (yes, I went through countless different exterminators and pest control companies in an effort to have someone remove this fear from my life) to my hatred of pests, “Lady, you live IN THE COUNTRY!”  They must have thought I was a lunatic, an idiot, or both.

I did everything I could to remove these unpleasant things from my life, but none of them ever completely went away.  It seemed like I faced one of those above-mentioned fears every day, in one form or another, and after 16 years, I realized that although I didn’t like them, I wasn’t afraid of them anymore.  It’s true:  ”Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage and confidence in the doing.”  It was a good lesson for me to learn.  I was going to need it.

The dark. Even as a little girl, I was afraid of the dark.  Afraid to be alone in the basement even, especially if it was dark.  I was afraid of thunder and lightening in the dark (so afraid that my thoughtful dad got so he’d come and check on me, in the middle of the night, during every storm–even when I was a teenager!) As a woman, I didn’t sleep a wink when my spouse traveled and I was home alone.  And as a mother, the bedtime routine on nights alone was quite a production:  I’d haul all of my children into my bedroom, push a big piece of furniture in front of the door, and STILL lay awake afraid all night while my babies and kids slumbered peacefully!  The confession of a coward, I know.  But, somehow, over time, the fear went away.  I realized a year or two before I got divorced I wasn’t afraid at night anymore.  I don’t know if it was because my spouse traveled so much I got used to being alone at night or if it’s because I simply gave in to the exhaustion and finally slept; or if it’s because my oldest son got old enough I felt I had some protection; or if I just finally “grew up,” but whatever the case, I’m not afraid of the dark anymore.  And that’s good.  Because I’ve had some darkness.  And I’m all alone in it.

Which brings me to my next fear:  Being alone. LOVE this one.  (NOT!)  I was always a social person. Had lots of friends.  Had lots of dates.  Never thought I’d end up alone, much less at just 41 years old.  But I’ve learned to deal with it.  And in many ways, it isn’t as scary or as bad as I’d always imagined it would be. Either that, or I’m getting used to it. (I didn’t want to get used to it, darn it!  I liked being married and wanted to get married again!  Oh well.  At least I’m open-minded about a possibility that includes me being alone for the rest of my life now.)  Good for me for conquering this fear.

Being responsible for a child. Ironic, I know, that a mother of four children would be afraid of this.  But in college, as I saw new parents strapping a baby on their back and going to class, it FREAKED ME OUT.  The thought of having to feed a child when I was a poor college student kept me single until I was ready to graduate!  I was always so afraid of the thought of being financially responsible for keeping someone else alive–I worried I wasn’t up to that.  I was fine when it was just me, but the thought of anyone else relying on me for support terrified me.  Lucky for me, I eventually matured and was married to a good provider before I had children.  I wasn’t so afraid of this anymore because the providing was on his shoulders AND I had a partner in the parenting endeavor.  I wasn’t doing it alone.

Enter March 18, 2009.  I found out not only was I going to be alone, I was going to be SOLELY responsible for FOUR CHILDREN.  Responsible financially, emotionally, physically, in every way responsible.  I WAS TERRIFIED! But I didn’t have the luxury or time to sit around and think about how afraid I was.  (THAT part came as I drove to Utah.)  I thought I had just six weeks to get everything resolved as it related to being alone and being solely responsible for four children.  I had a SERIOUS deadline.

Like the children’s “bear hunt” rhyme, I was going on the hunt of my life and I couldn’t go over it, under it, or around it.  I had to go straight through it.  I had to, as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Do what you are afraid to do.”  (No offense to anyone named Ralph or Waldo, but I’ve always found it ironic that someone named Ralph AND Waldo had such great things to say and in such a brilliant way! lol)

And as I did that, I stretched and grew. Again.  Every day.  Just a little bit more.  Until now I can say I agree with Ralph Waldo Emerson on another thing:  ”He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.”

But as I drove to Utah from Colorado on July 13, 2009, I hadn’t learned this yet. I had eight hours to think and I thought about how afraid I was of my life.  And how afraid I was of what was ahead of me…for the rest of my life.