Living Happily Ever After


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Don’t Block Your Dream

“You block your dream when you allow your fear to grow bigger than your faith.” (Mary Manin Morrissey)

I’ve been living my unexpected life for 2 1/2 years now. It has caused some serious reflection on occasion. Looking back, I can’t believe all that was thrust upon me in one single, incomprehensible, dark moment. I’m astounded at all that I lost, not to mention the fact that I emotionally survived the terrible shock all of that loss and devastation. What stunning, terrible, dark days those were. I wouldn’t wish them on anyone.

But somehow, I kept going. And now that I’m through it, I think I dare ask myself again: “HOW did I do it? How did I keep going? How did I survive it all?”

My answer? Faith. And dreams.

Somehow I had the faith to dream and to believe that if I did my part, if I did all I could to work hard and to make those dreams come true, they would. Somehow I had the faith to cling to the dream of a happily ever after and to trust God—to never doubt that He knows me and has a plan for me (I just wasn’t always sure what His plan was!)—and to know that with Him, my children and I could be healed of our losses and devastation, we could dream new dreams and  look forward with faith, and endure, until the time that our dreams came to fruition. Until we got our happily ever after.

I think Fox Mulder said it best: “Dreams are answers to questions we haven’t yet figured out how to ask.” (The X Files)

My unexpected life provided me with the opportunity to dream new dreams I didn’t know I’d ever have; to ask questions I never thought I’d ask or have to ask; and there was a LOT to figure out! But it also provided an incredible opportunity for learning and personal growth. (That continues, by the way, as I stumble and bumble my way through my new adventures!)

But I’m so glad that I’ve learned them. I’m glad I didn’t quit (even though a few times I wanted to!) And all I can say is, to everyone and anyone in the midst of their unexpected life and its attendant trauma: don’t quit. Don’t give up. Keep the faith. And keep working toward that happily ever after you’ve always dreamed of and know is out there somewhere, some place…because it is.

I know it. And I have proof of it; I AM proof of it.

I lost my old life at 41 years old. In fact, I lost pretty much everything. I divorced, I returned to the workforce, I moved to Utah, and began again—entirely from scratch and in an entirely different way and life—yet here I sit. In my cute, comfortable little house in Utah. Happy and fulfilled in ways I didn’t even know were possible; my husband outside hanging Christmas lights with my boys; and I’m spending time with my wonderful new mother-in-law and anticipating the arrival of new, extended family to share Thanksgiving with, yes, I’m proof.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” (C.S. Lewis)

And make sure you do just that. Because it leads to some indescribable joys, moments of blissful happiness, and some other new but very unexpected adventures. I’ve had a few more. And as usual, I can’t believe some of them myself!

There’s Nothing Like Halloween To…

“Charlie Brown is the one person I identify with. C.B. is such a loser. He wasn’t even the star of his own Halloween special.” (Chris Rock)

There’s nothing like Halloween to…make you feel like a loser.

That’s how I felt last night anyway. I’m past the Ponzi scheme, past the divorce, past the complete world and life change, etc…but as I sat home alone on Halloween for the first time in my life and passed out candy to trick-or-treaters, I think I was was a little sad not to be “the star” of Halloween this year.

Every other year since becoming a mother I’ve planned the costumes, purchased the candy, made a festive dinner, and taken my children trick-or-treating. This year my oldest was at college; my daughter was working at Cold Stone; and my husband took my two youngest trick-or-treating at their request. I don’t know if it was being home alone on Halloween night for the very first time in my life or if it was the result of all the chocolate I ate (you know, the low that comes on the heels of a sugar high from eating WAY too much candy!) but I some serious orange and black nostalgia.

I missed my dad, who always took my siblings and me trick-or-treating as children. Those thoughts led to nostalgia for the carefree, innocent days of childhood.

Then I missed the Halloweens I’ve celebrated as a mother. Those thoughts made me miss my old life, just a little bit.

And then THOSE thoughts made me realize 2011 was my 18th Halloween as a mother! A milestone of sorts. And I realized: I’m not just a Halloween loser, I’m a middle-aged Halloween loser! Aaaauuggghhh! (Isn’t that what Charlie Brown always said?)

I remembered my first Halloween as a mother, 1993—my cute six-month-old baby, dressed like a clown, crawling to the trick-or-treat candy bowl and helping himself to lollipops. He didn’t know what to do with them at that age, but he loved the crinkly sounds the wrappers made! Skinny little Dum-Dum sticks grasped tightly and awkwardly in chubby baby fingers and tight baby fists. I’ll never forget that.

Halloween, and life, was very different then. In 1993, I had the world by the tail and thought my biggest challenge was going to be my attempt at motherhood, trying to be a good mother to my children; I had NO IDEA all that life would deliver to my door, and that not all of it would be as welcome as the continuous “ding’dong” of a doorbell on Halloween night.

I guess life is like that for all of us, huh?

Well, that baby clown is grown and gone. And there I was, home alone, crying as I passed out candy to trick-or-treaters, thinking about that, how fast the past 18 years have gone and all that my family has lived through.

Rest assured, however, that grown baby clown did nothing of the sort. Nostaliga? Heck no!  He was too busy making the rounds at university Halloween dances this year, dressed as a giant Whoopee Cushion, solo dancing on stages around BYU’s campus, performing some awe-inspiring, “shuffle” dance moves that are currently all the rage. I confess, picturing a giant Whoopee Cushion busting dance moves to which college crowds gathered around to watch wiped away some of my melancholy—as did the realization that I have only myself to blame.

I mean, what do you get when you use, as a disciplinary consequence, dance parties in the kitchen? Worse, what do you get when you make your children dance to the song of your choice if they misbehave…and if you make THEM watch YOU dance if they’ve been really, really bad?

Ironically, a pretty well-behaved mostly grown up Whoopee Cushion. With some pretty excellent dance moves.

“Whoopee Cushion (noun): a type of cusion or pillow used as a practical joke that when sat upon, produces a loud noise resembling flatulence.” (

Game Report

“Failure is simply the non-presence of success. But a fiasco is a disaster of mythic proportions.” (Orlando Bloom)

The second soccer game was…a bit of a fiasco.

I dashed from work directly to the playing field, got caught in horrendous traffic, and made it there just in time for the start of the game. Not a moment to spare—or to change out of my work clothes. So once again, I coached in a skirt. But this time, in high heels as well!

I’m not sure why, maybe I didn’t look serious enough about soccer or sporty enough in my skirt and heels, but I experienced some coaching difficulties. I had dads on the sidelines sending boys into the game on their own; I had little boys arguing with me when I tried to rotate them out to give every boy a chance to play; and then one of my players got ejected from the game for getting a little too rough, hitting and wrestling the other players!

At the end of the quarter when the ejected boy was allowed to play in the game again, my son ran and welcomed him back with a quick wrestle—so the boy told the referee on MY SON! (Thankfully, the referee continued the game and I gave my son a quick reminder about not wrestling during soccer games, explaining AGAIN that we don’t wrestle during soccer games or we don’t get to play, as the playing continued on around us.)

The other coach/referee interacted with me so much during the game one woman on the sidelines approached and asked, “It that man your husband?”

As I walked to the sideline after that one, all I could do was shake my head and ask myself with a laugh, “HOW did THIS become MY life?”

I remembered, again, how far I’ve come in an unexpected life: divorced, traumatized financial disaster to remarried, at peace, first-time soccer coach in just two years! I recall shaking my head but not laughing, asking myself that very question in 2009 and having a very different answer. Proof again, and I can’t say it enough, that it IS possible to rise from the ashes of whatever misery you’re handed, to create a new life of happiness, to laugh and to eventually “win” again.

Yes it’s possible.

My son even scored four goals.

“We all have possibilities we don’t know about. We can do things we don’t even dream we can do.” (Dale Carnegie)

Dressed To Spectate, But…

“Coaching is easy. Winning is the hard part.” (Elgin Baylor)

My youngest is playing soccer, for the first time, this fall. It’s something he has been begging to participate in for a couple of years, so we decided to try it this year. As the start of the season approached, I began getting emails from the league, “Your child has been placed on a team. However, we still need a coach, an assistant coach, and a team parent for your child’s team. Please volunteer.”

I confess, I ignored those requests. I was a basketball player; I never played soccer, I knew nothing about the game (other than I think you can’t touch the ball with your hands); not to mention the fact that I work full-time in another city from where the soccer practices and games take place.

As the day of the first game approached, the same emails kept coming. I finally responded with one of my own: “I’ve never played soccer, I know nothing about soccer, but I am willing to coach if you need me to,” thinking surely, one of those dads of the boys on the team would volunteer! I didn’t hear anything back, assumed a dad had stepped forward, and showed up at the first game. Expecting to spectate. To find out…I was the assistant coach!

I was dressed to spectate (in a skirt and flip flops), not coach, but I joined the boys on the field and did the best I could to provide encouragement, direction, to help control a little kindergarten boy-age chaos and propensity to wrestle even when they should be playing soccer and, of course, to learn the rules of the game. (Many thanks to Tyler, a little boy on my team, who coached the assistant coach that first game!)

We all survived the first soccer game. I’m not sure who won (I don’t think we keep score at this young age). I only know several boys on my team, including my son, scored goals; and that we had a very supportive cheerleader, my husband, cheering all of us on and making sure we had plenty of water during the breaks (especially the assistant coach) from the sidelines.

As I walked off the field at the end of the first game, all I could do was shake my head at ANOTHER unexpected adventure…in the unexpected life.

Life is like that, you know.

“Coaching in the NBA is not easy. It’s like a nervous breakdown with a paycheck.” (Pat Williams)

My experience is slightly easier than that, thank goodness! No paycheck, but no breakdowns, either. At least, not during that first game.

More to come.

Stay tuned.

Happy Birthday

“Brilliantly lit from stem to stern, she looked like a sagging birthday cake.” (Walter Lord)

Last week, I turned 44 years old and my husband turned 50 years old. On the same day. I remember the night I found out we shared the same birth date…and how I wasn’t sure I was thrilled about that. Second marriage moment #23? I changed my mind!

It happened like this.

My husband came home from work one day, said he found a great hotel deal in Las Vegas and that he thought we should take advantage of it to celebrate our birthdays. It immediately hit me like a ton of bricks: sharing a birthday with my husband just might not be too bad! I agreed to go.

But sadly, as the birthday approached, I began to have second thoughts: we shouldn’t spend the money, I’d never not been with my children on my birthday before, work was busy, who would supervise the children while we were gone? Then shortly before the trip, an extended family member scheduled a wedding we needed to attend and my husband announced, “I don’t think we can do both. Maybe we shouldn’t go to Las Vegas.”

As he voiced what I had been thinking and feeling all along, I suddenly realized how much I wanted to go. How important it was, to me, to go. (I’m not sure why. But I will say in a remarriage, in my experience, there are so many things already decided for you. It is never just you and your husband, alone, and deciding what you want or what is best for you and then doing that. You begin your marriage and attempt to build a new family, with two other already existing families, and children, in place. You never, or rarely, have the luxury of considering only your needs—not to mention you start out your marriage with so many things you can’t control, or do, due to the choices of others.) Maybe it was just a moment of stubbornness where I couldn’t have one more person make one more choice and decide something for me, or have one more person’s choice affect my plans and my life, but for some reason I felt it was important to get away to Las Vegas with my new husband.

So I said, “It’s my birthday. It’s your birthday. It’s our six month wedding anniversary. You got a great deal on a hotel. There isn’t a present or gift I want. And although every remarried couple we know told us the most important thing we should do as a remarried couple is to get away alone, without children, as often as we can—even every month—we haven’t done it once. I think I’m going to Vegas, and I hope you’ll join me!”

We went to Vegas.

We went cheap. We ate inexpensively. We didn’t see any shows. But we enjoyed all our hotel had to offer, and especially enjoyed our time alone together and the chance to talk and laugh together, for 57 hours, uninterrupted! Turns out, sharing your birthday with your spouse has its perks, too. When the hotel spa found out it was our birthday, they gave us a complimentary visit. And unexpectedly, my husband’s boss called and told me take my husband out to dinner for his birthday—on him. So I had crab legs (my favorite thing in the world, next to lobster) for the first time in two years—since beginning my unexpected life.

Who cares if you or your birthday cake is sagging with age or years…as long as you’re sagging on a birthday getaway with your husband? Not me.

“I should be committed to an institution immediately for even thinking I could get away with that…” (Johnny Depp)

So What Do You Do When…

Not too long ago my youngest was in the tub singing as he bathed. Thanks to the influence of my husband and his performance in Sundance resort’s summer theater production of “The Sound of Music” (I think), eventually the singing turned to yodeling (or shall we say, “attempted” yodeling?)

So what do you do when your son is yodeling? If you’re me, you join him!

There he sat in the tub as I stood at the counter doing my hair, both of us providing QUITE an impression of Julie Andrews and the Von Trapp children’s song about goats! Later in the day, when my husband called to say hello, I let him know what my son and I had been up to in the bathroom before the neighbors did. I’m proud and thankful to report that accidentally shaving an eyebrow off wasn’t in the report this time. My husband listened quietly as I detailed our activity.

I don’t know what I expected him to say, but here’s what happened. Without missing a beat, he started yodeling the song from Disneyland’s “It’s A Small World” ride—demonstrating a suggestion for future material my son and I could yodel to!

Second marriage moment #22.

Because if you had told me, pre-March 18, 2009, that in 2011 I’d be working full-time, residing in any state other than Colorado, married to a different man than the previous 20 years, living a completely different life (aka. yodeling in a Utah bathroom and actually married to a man who sings, yodels, dances, plays musical instruments and wears lederhosen when the occasion requires it)…I NEVER would have believed it!

Still loving the unexpected life.

How’s yours?

“If you ever teach a yodeling class, probably the hardest thing is to keep the students from just trying to yodel right off. You see, we build to that.” (Jack Handy)

Good to know.

“Because I’m Worth It” (Loreal, 1967)

“Whenever I don’t have to wear makeup, it’s a good day.” (Cameron Diaz)

The other night I was in the bathroom, removing my makeup, getting ready for bed. About the time I entered the raccoon stage—big black circles of eye makeup and mascara mixed with Vaseline (I’m an 80s girl, what can I say? And it’s less expensive than professional makeup remover from Mac, Clinique or any other department store makeup counter), my husband walked in.

He asked, “Do you have any of those makeup remover ‘sheets’?”

I assumed he saw the archaic yet inexpensive makeup removal system I was using and was suggesting I splurge on something better. I clarified, “You mean the little towelettes that come pre-moistened? I’ve used them before, but they’re expensive; not a part of the budget in my new life.”

“Yes,” he replied. “I know they’re more expensive but…”

I assumed he was telling me he thinks I’m worth the extra few dollars said product would cost. But instantly, in that moment, just as I began to get swept away by the romance of my new husband’s caring and concern for even my makeup removal, and before I could respond, he lifted his hair back, showed me his forehead and said, ” I mean, look at this! I tried to take it off, but it doesn’t come off easily. Those towelettes work really well.”

Stage makeup.

For the theater production he’s in this summer at Sundance  resort in Utah.

“The Sound of Music.”

It opens this Friday, July 29.

I gave him some of what I was using, and we both stood at the counter, together, and removed our makeup as we talked about the day.

Second marriage moment #20. Standing in front of the mirror, removing my makeup, while my husband did the same!

I never EVER expected that one.

“I mean, look, I wear makeup in films. I don’t wear makeup in real life. It’s just part of the gig, that’s all.” (Bruce Willis)

Really. At least I’m pretty sure that’s the message my husband would want me to share with the world should I reveal (as I have) that he sometimes wears makeup because, “not everyone is as liberal-minded as you are,” he says.

Speaking of liberals and conservatives, and politics in general, here’s a good one: “The reason there are so few female politicians is that it is too much trouble to put makeup on two faces.” (Maureen Murphy)

A Conversation I Never Expected

“Nice duds. What is that, lederhosen?” (“Leprechaun 3″)

Life is full of the unexpected. We have experiences we never expected to have; we sometimes end up in places we never planned to be.

I’ve lived through some very major unexpected moments and some that were easier to embrace–like a very minor one I had the other day. In the form of a conversation. The day my new husband came home from work and asked, “Tell me, how do you feel about lederhosen?”


They’re what every wife dreams of her husband wearing, right? Prior to my unexpected life, I admit I’d never given lederhosen much thought. But I have now. Because as it turns out, my husband will be wearing some when he appears in this summer’s 2011 summer theater production of “The Sound of Music” at Sundance resort in Utah. And as an added bonus, it’s even…embroidered!

Lederhosen. For sure, something I never expected to have to have an opinion about. But it provided me with a very unforgettable second marriage moment #17, and it has also caused me to revise my expectations for the future. Now I know he’ll wear them, and I’m sure he’ll look very handsome in them, but I still never  expect to hear,  ”I very much like vearing ze lederhosen.” (Ross Noble: Sonic Waffle)

I’ll keep you posted.

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)

It’s Grand

“A man begins cutting his wisdom teeth the first time he bites off more than he can chew.” (Herb Caen)

Sometimes we bite off more than we can chew through choices we make and sometimes we’re thrust into overwhelming situations through no choice of our own that can leave our jaws flapping! That’s the unexpected life, regardless of how it comes. But I can’t emphasize this aspect enough: if we handle it right, we gain valuable life experience, we learn important lessons and we increase in wisdom. And we can do great things with what we’ve learned.

Like Walt Disney, who rose above his own setbacks to create a magical legacy and impact millions even after he was gone: “All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” (Walt Disney)

Speaking of wisdom and teeth, my daughter had her’s removed a few days ago. Prior to her surgery, the oral surgeon walked into the room, looked at me and asked, “You’ve been here before, haven’t you?”

I replied, “No.”

He looked puzzled, stared at me and said, “Really? You look so familiar. I am trying to figure out where I’ve seen you. I’m just sure I have met you before.”

I joked that I have blonde hair, blue eyes and we live in the state of Utah where it seems like the majority of the state’s residents look like I do, so no surprise that I look familiar. He laughed and walked out of the room to get what he needed to begin the procedure on my daughter. When the door closed, I realized how far we’ve come…and yet how some things haven’t changed much.

When the door clicked shut, the first words out of my daughter’s mouth were, “Mom! You’ve GOT to be kidding me! Don’t tell me you dated HIM too?” (That’s the part that hasn’t changed!)

Yet I realized how far we’ve come when it dawned on me after the doctor had left the room (and after I had defended myself against my daughter’s accusation—and for the record, NO, I did not date that doctor!) that when he commented that I looked familiar, I didn’t cringe; I didn’t inwardly cower in fear that he might have seen me in the media, connected to a crime I had no part of (other than that I happened to be married to the man who perpetrated the crime.) Honestly, and surprisingly, for maybe the first time in my unexpected life, that hadn’t even crossed my mind—it was almost as if I’d forgotten about it and hadn’t even realized I’d forgotten, that’s how natural the process of forgetting, aka. healing, has become.  I was sure I seemed familiar to him because I live in a state where a large percentage of the population descends from Scandinavian immigrants!

Apparently, I’ve developed something. Unexpected amnesia, occasionally, regarding the trauma that led to my unexpected life. I anticipate as we move further and further from 2009, I’ll forget what led to my new opportunities more and more. As Robert Louis Stevenson said, “I’ve a grand memory for forgetting.”

And isn’t THAT grand?