A final thing I realized after seeing the June 20, 2012 segment of “American Greed” is that watching a television show about your former life and the crimes of your former husband is not conducive to…romance with your new one!
My husband and I watched the show together. I don’t know what he was thinking or feeling during the whole thing, but a part of me felt sicker and sicker inside with every commercial break. It was a strange experience to “relive” portions of the Ponzi scheme nightmare and it was surprising to learn new things about my former husband, truths about aspects of our previous life, things I’d always believed based on what he’d told me—only to find out from a television show that I’d been lied to about something else! (Even before the Ponzi scheme started.)
My husband was unusually quiet throughout the whole program and when it was over, without a word, turned out the light, rolled over on his side, and was silent. I was stunned! I felt pretty sick inside myself, but I was surprised at my husband’s unfriendliness toward ME. The show hadn’t been about me; I hadn’t done anything wrong.
“Are you going to sleep right now?” I asked through the darkness.
“Yes,” my husband answered.
“Without even saying goodnight?” I questioned.
He replied, “Watching a TV show about your wife, her former husband, their life together—seeing the family pictures, vacations and everything else, isn’t exactly conducive to romance.”
I couldn’t argue with that.
I felt pretty sick myself.
So I willed myself to stop thinking—about the show I’d just seen, about the actions of the man I’d been married to, about the response of the man I am currently married to and about men in general (lets just say I wasn’t thrilled with any man, in general, that night! haha) But in the morning, I had a new and better perspective on the whole thing:
“A woman has got to love a bad man once…in her life, to be thankful for a good one.” (Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings)
Color me thankful.
And remind me to be more careful of the TV shows we watch together in the future.
“Adolescence isn’t just about prom or wearing sparkly dresses.” (Jena Malone)
Yes, for my teenage daughter it’s about a lot of things—including working two part-time jobs, one of them at Cold Stone.
She came home last night to report the experience of describing her dress to her date so he could coordinate his attire. She told him it was black and champagne. But the boy couldn’t grasp the concept of that particular color description—champagne. My daughter said she tried a few other descriptive words and finally hit on the idea to put it in terms he could understand. (They both work at Cold Stone.)
“It’s the color of coffee ice cream!”
Light dawned in his eyes; he got it.
I guess you could say my daughter is heading to prom in a dress the color of hot fudge and coffee ice cream. And apparently, her date will be dressed to match. But here’s what’s really important, according to someone who ought to know: ”Over the years I have learned that what is important in a dress is the woman who is wearing it.” (Yves Saint Laurent)
“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.” (Gilbert K. Chesterson)
Maybe I’m a know it all (or at least a woman who knows her own mind.) I admit, I have preconceived notions as to how I think things should be, how I think they should go and I confess, I’ve always had my own plans, goals and dreams I’m working toward. Maybe that’s why it’s such a struggle for me when things don’t go as planned. Hence, the “shock factor” of the unexpected life.
For example, I remember when my dad died unexpectedly in a plane crash when I was a teenager and I struggled to make sense of it. One thing I remember thinking over and over again was, “No, this can’t be. I love my dad. I was meant to have a dad—that’s why I was placed for adoption as an infant, because I was SUPPOSED to have a dad, that was the plan for ME.” Cut to 2009 when the Ponzi scheme was revealed to me. I had many issues with it, of course, but one was, “No, this can’t be. I’ve always been honest, I’ve always lived a life of integrity, I can’t be involved to whatever degree, to any degree, in something like this that SOMEONE ELSE has done!” But you don’t always have control over the situations you find yourself in, courtesy of life, do you? The only thing you can control is your reaction to those challenges and what you choose to do with them.
I say: do something good with them. I can’t think of anything worse than being handed something miserable and choosing to let it destroy you for the rest of your life. Create a triumph out of a tragedy. Pick yourself up and carry on. Look for the good you’ve got. And never give up on life, or being happy, through everything you’re required to endure. Endure to the end. Oh, yes, and while you’re at it—strive to be open to all of the “new” opportunities that come with it all.
For example, when I saw Notre Dame in Paris for the first time, I was unexpectedly overwhelmed. I went into it thinking it was just something to see because of its history. I expected I’d visit it, enjoy it, cross it off my list of things to see while in Paris and move on to the next sight. I didn’t expect to FEEL what I felt there. To walk inside and be literally overwhelmed by its majesty. To be so touched by the experience of it. To sit, to cry from the beauty of it all, and to soak it all in until my friend finally felt it was time for us to go!
I remember my first trip to London. My #1 goal was to see the Tower of London and the crown jewels; my friend’s #1 goal was to see Westminster Abbey. So we saw both, and guess what? The thing I most enjoyed from that trip ended up being Westminster Abbey, while my friend was unexpectedly impressed by, you guessed it, the Tower of London. By remaining open to the unexpected, we saw things we’d otherwise perhaps have missed. We might have missed our most cherished experiences; remaining “open” to new adventures, or things we didn’t expect, greatly enriched our travel experiences.
Apply that to the unexpected life and I guess that’s why I dared trust a man again, fall in love and remarry. Why I keep singing (occasionally!) Why I ALMOST auditioned for a show. Why I’ve tagged along to autograph signings when invited. Why I give speeches. Why I’ve dared expose myself to the potential for anything in a media interview. And even, to some degree, why I blog about all of the unexpected adventures.
Every life experience has something to distinguish it by, something to learn from or can be a new adventure in some way if you choose to allow it to be. I think it depends on you.
“An adventure may be worn as a muddy spot or it may be worn as a proud insignia. It is the woman wearing it who makes it the one thing or the other.” (Norma Shearer)
“A woman’s place in public is to sit beside her husband, be silent, and be sure her hat is on straight.” (Bess Truman)
Yes; sure. That’s exactly the type of woman I am and exactly what I do in public…when I’m not giving a speech, that is!
The day of my BYU speech it dawned on me that I was going it alone. My husband had the day off and hadn’t even asked about my little collegiate adventure! A few hours before the speech, I mentioned that to him. He replied, “Andrea, you haven’t said so much as a word about it to me. The only thing I know is that it’s today—and the only reason I even know that is because I dragged that out of you. I’m happy to come, if you want me to.”
Suddenly, I wanted him to be there. I’d never given it much thought prior to that moment; actually, I’d never even thought to consider it. But all of a sudden I thought he should be there, for some reason. For me. That’s not to say I wasn’t torn about my desire, however. We didn’t discuss this aspect of it, but here’s the honest truth: I absolutely would not want to sit and listen to my husband speak about his previous life, ex-wife or their experiences yet there I was, wanting him to support me when I spoke about mine! (All right. Go ahead and say what I’m sure you’re all thinking: what a rotten wife. Yes, I am. But what a great husband. Yes, he is.)
He rearranged whatever he’d planned on his day off to be there for me. He sat in the back of the auditorium and met me afterward. He told me I did a good job. And then he finally said the unspoken as he shook his head and joked, “Although what kind of husband am I to sit there and hear stories about your old life, see all those family pictures, and everything else about your first marriage. That was fun.” (Or something like that.)
Yes, I bet it was fun. (NOT!) I don’t know that I could be as calm or as kind about it if our situations were reversed. But let me take a moment to answer his question right now, so there is no doubt.
What kind of husband is he? The best kind.
“Strike an average between what a woman thinks of her husband a month before she marries him and what she thinks of him a year afterward, and you will have the truth about him.” (H.L. Mencken)
The truth is, I thought he was amazing a month before I married him. After I married him, I knew it. And in the year since our marriage, he has demonstrated it over and over again. Lucky me.
It’s my unexpected life. Married to SOME KIND of husband!
“Love seems the swiftest but it is the slowest of all growths. No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century.” (Mark Twain)
On the way to the event, Donny chatted about a special “20/20″ piece he and his wife, Debbie, had filmed. Its focus was the longevity of their marriage (it aired prior to Valentine’s Day 2012.) He talked about some of the questions they’d been asked, as well as his answers. The comment I remember most was regarding divorce. Donny said something like, “They asked me about divorce and when I told them divorce was not an option, never had been and never would be, they were blown away—absolutely couldn’t believe it!”
Not only talented and a gentleman, but a loving and committed husband and family man, too. No wonder he’s had five decades in the entertainment business and a marriage that has lasted over 34 years. (That, and that he married a wonderful woman and he’s very smart about how he does things. For example, at the autograph signing there was a giant glass bowl of Hershey’s kisses beside him. When I first saw it I thought it was the strangest thing: stacks of photos to autograph (I got that part) and a giant glass bowl of kisses. “Hmmm, interesting” I mused. “Donny must really like chocolate and wanted to make sure he’d have enough in case he gets a craving this afternoon.” (Celebrities can always make their requests, I assumed Donny requested the chocolate to eat.) Until lo and behold, the female fans approached! It was amazing to see women of all ages, breathless, screaming and loving Donny—seeking an autograph, a picture with, or a kiss from Donny. And with every kiss request…Donny grabbed some Hershey’s kisses, put them in their hands with a smile, and obliged! BRILLIANT.)
Yes, there I sat in the limo listening to Donny’s commitment to his marriage and his values regarding marriage, having been divorced myself! Oops.
Some wonder how you achieve that: a marriage that endures. Yes, it does require more than Hershey’s kisses but I love everything about the thought that is behind that effort. And while I’ve been divorced once myself (and although I’m not a fan of divorce, I do believe there are circumstances in which it is the right, even only, choice sometimes) I also appreciate the staying power commitment gives a marriage.
It’s amazing how being committed to your spouse, your marriage, your family and because of your commitment, having a willingness to work together, to resolve issues, to nurture your love and to keep it alive, to put the other person first, to serve one another, to strive to help each other to become better, to forgive, to be united, to support one another, to choose to see the good and stick with the marriage through everything, regardless of anything…really does help you stick with it.
And nothing is more sublime than a great marriage. I believe that. And I’ll see that even more, I believe, in 25 (make that 24!) more years.
A woman realizes her son has not yet gotten out of bed for school. She goes into his bedroom and tells him to get up or he will miss breakfast. ”No,” the son replies. “I don’t wanna go to school!” ”You HAVE to go to school,” the mother scolds.
“No! The kids are mean to me, the teachers don’t like me, and the lunches are icky.” ”You WILL go to school, young man,” the mother warns. ”Why? Why do I have to go to school today?” the son asks. The mother is about to lose her patience: “Because you’re the principal, now get out of bed!”
Yes, that’s sort of what happened during my cruise. Only I wasn’t home with my son—and it was my kindergarten-age son that ditched school! I NEVER expected that one! Yes, while I was on my husband’s birthday cruise experiencing karaoke and all kinds of adventures, my children were at home in Utah, one having adventures of his own!
My high school-age daughter is sharp, efficient, independent and always has been. (She could run our home and family smoothly by the time she was in 5th grade without my help, but I’m thankful she lets me hang around to attempt to do my part!) While we were gone, she had everything under control—drove her siblings to daycare and school, went to school herself, picked up her siblings after school, supervised them, fed them, helped with homework, cleaned the house, did the laundry, and took care of everything related to the running of the family in my absence. My children were in good hands. And then I got an unexpected email. (We couldn’t get phone service on our cruise.) The email reported certain delinquent behavior…of my kindergartener!
Apparently, he’d been dropped off at school by his daycare (like he is every day) and headed through the doors of the school. Before my son went into his classroom, however, he decided he didn’t “feel” like going to school that day so he and a friend who also didn’t feel like going to school that day, headed off on an adventure. While I’ve never had a child do something like that and never expected to have one do something like that, thank goodness I live in Utah and thank goodness I have good neighbors! Mid-afternoon my neighbor was driving in the town next to ours…and saw my son walking on the side of the road! She picked him up, took him home and kept him until my daughter got home from school.
By the time I was able to reach my children by phone, my daughter had handled it: she had marched her brother to the school office to tell the principal what he had done and apologize for his poor choice; she had taken him home, grounded him from playing with friends and had taken away some other privileges as a consequence of his wrong decision; she had talked to him about his behavior AND called her older college-age brother to come home for a visit that evening to talk to the offender, again, about family expectations regarding school attendance. By the time I finally got to speak with my youngest son, he was very penitent; but I reiterated my impression of his incorrect choice and behavior again anyway, just to make sure there would NEVER be a repeat occurrence!
Kindergarten delinquent. (For a day.) WHO raises a child like that? Apparently, me. And given what we’ve lived through, holding myself back from over-reacting is a struggle. It’s a challenge for me, sometimes, to remain calm about it all. I have to make the effort to refrain from panicking. Sometimes I have to mentally calm myself down before reacting to what I once deemed “typical” childhood learning experiences (telling a lie, stealing a coin or a piece of candy or other similar behaviors.) I’m desperate for my children to avoid the mistakes made by their other parent. I’ll never give up my quest to teach my children to make correct choices, to be obedient, to follow the rules and to grow up to be honest, good, law abiding citizens that are a force for good in the world—especially given the example set by someone else once close to them.
“Hey, Cameron. You realize if we played by the rules right now we’d be in gym?” (Ferris Bueller, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”)
“I am my own experiment. I am my own work of art.” (Madonna)
Apparently, I am too.
Lets just say there has been a lot of “experimenting” (as in a lot of new, unexpected experiences) since 2009. All seeming to take place during karaoke on a cruise ship lately, for some reason. Here’s how the worst one happened:
I remember the karaoke hostess asking if anyone could sing Madonna. I looked around, I was the youngest woman there (and the only blonde) and no one was standing up, so for some reason, I did. I sang my first solo. “Material Girl.” (It must be that it was Madonna. Madonna and Abba are my weakness, haha! A carryover from my 1980s upbringing, I guess.) After I sang I was handed a packet and a MP3 player to practice for a special performance—no wonder no one volunteered!
I worried to my husband, “I can’t sing Madonna to a bunch of people in the karaoke lounge.” He assured me I wouldn’t have to. I would be singing Madonna at the cruise’s final show, on the big stage with the red velvet curtains!
“I can’t do that!” I exclaimed.
“Too late,” he replied. He advised me to memorize the lyrics and practice the song. He told me that up on stage before thousands of people, I’d be nervous and forget everything; that’s why I needed to practice, so my mouth would have “memory” and be able to sing the right words when I didn’t have a clue what I was doing because I was terrified.
Reassuring, to say the least.
“At least you’ll get to sing with a live band, that’s really fun,” he encouraged. “Most people go their whole lives without that opportunity.”
Somehow, I think I would have survived my entire life without the experience, however, you know what they say: ”Opportunity knocks for every man, but you have to give a woman a ring.” (Mae West)
|“By persistently remaining single, a man converts himself into a permanent public temptation.” (Oscar Wilde)I’m thinking it might be an attractive combination. Single man, fit, hair long enough to make him look like a liberal college professor…and the women are beginning to like it! The other day #5 came home to tell me how nice women have been to him, especially lately, and that he thinks it might be the longer hair.
I asked, “Do you think it might be the wedding ring?”
He explained, “No, it was starting to happen a little before that, I think it must be the hair!”
Thank goodness he is married again, I guess, so he won’t be SUCH a temptation. He’s off the market, as am I. I have exited the single phase of life. For the second time. I can’t say I’m sorry to see it go. It was devastating to become single after 20 years of marriage and to re-enter the singles scene in my 40s, following an unexpected divorce and the trauma of a VERY unexpected life; the single life sure took some getting used to. In fact, I couldn’t imagine ever getting used to it. But I did.
In the beginning, I remember feeling so humiliated. I seriously thought everyone could tell, just by looking at me, what a loser (ie. single, a.k.a. divorced) woman I was. I was sure everyone thought I had terrible judgement, lacked intelligence, was impossible to live with or did any myriad of negative things that made someone not want to be with me and that caused my divorce.
Divorce was so contrary to anything I’d ever imagined for myself, I could hardly imagine, truly, ever being satisfied with myself and my status, but eventually I was. I wasn’t humiliated. I didn’t feel like a loser. I was just me. Andrea Merriman. Divorced single mother of four. I wasn’t embarrassed by the word “divorce” or to say it. It was my unexpected new “normal.”
Then I remarried.
And believe it or not, THAT has taken some getting used to. Again! For #5 and for me.
I’m calling them…second marriage moments. And the first one hit on the drive home from the honeymoon. Lets just say MOST of them have made me laugh:)
“Second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience.”
I’ve admired a few women in my life.
Every once in awhile, you come across someone who exemplifies everything you admire. You look at her with awe and hope that someday… you can become like her. That someday you’ll be as beautiful on the inside, and out, as she is.
The bummer comes in getting there.
In becoming like her.
In developing the beauty that comes from meeting life and conquering its challenges with grace, dignity and class. (At least, that’s my goal.)
Someday, I want to be a woman like that.
“Class has nothing to do with money. Class never runs scared. It is self-discipline and self-knowledge. It’s the sure footedness that comes with having proved you can meet life.” (Ann Landers)
And if I ever become such a woman, I’m going to have to thank my unexpected life for that, too.