With the rainbow at the end

I dreamed about my wedding last night.

It wasn’t anything like what we have planned.

We stood holding hands, waiting for the ceremony to begin, on the steps of a church, our backs to the entrance. It was chilly outside and I stood as close as I could to the man I was about to marry. There were people all around us and we were waiting for when we were to walk ahead to whatever outdoor space we’d picked.

Despite all those people – many of whom I didn’t seem to know – I remember feeling completely focused on Kyle, and he on me. We were happy, smiling. We kissed while we waited.

Out of the crowd, my ex-mother-in-law emerged. She was dressed up and holding an umbrella. She offered a quick congratulations, handed me a gift and then disappeared. The gift was unlike anything I’ve ever seen: a beige handkerchief tied to a twig. It resembled a tiny flag. I wasn’t sure what to do with it.

That’s when I noticed my clothes.

“I’m not wearing my dress!” I said and laughed. Kyle smiled and said he didn’t care.

Still, we went inside, up the church steps and into a hotel room (I didn’t say this dream made logical sense). There, I tried on a pink chiffon dress I can still picture. It wasn’t unlike the dress Rachel McAdams wears in “The Vow.” It was beautiful, but I didn’t like it.

There were other people in this room with us, too, including my high school boyfriend. It seemed everyone was focused on us, but all I could see was Kyle. It was as if we were in the center of a kaleidoscope, all the pieces around us moving, spinning, but we were still, completely grounded, in the middle of it all.

I remembered finally that I had a dress for the wedding – the one I actually do have – and I put that on.

And we kissed again and we were married.

Just like that. Happily ever after, without any worries at all.

It was such a good dream.

Today is Feb. 28. Our wedding date is April 7 (though if I get this far-away job I’m still waiting to hear about, we’ll get married sooner). Either way, five weeks from this Saturday, we’ll be on our way to the next chapter.

I can’t wait.

There was a time during and following my divorce when I couldn’t understand why anyone would get married. My parents are divorced, and so many people I knew then didn’t seem happy with their lives.

But then something changed.

I met this man.

And when I did, it was like the clouds just cleared. The path was straight ahead. I could instantly see what marriage could be, what true love meant, what a family could be like, the value in taking care of someone because you want to, because you love him so much.

This is the path with the rainbow at the end, the trail with the hope just around the bend.

This road is the one I get to travel with him, hand in hand.

Forever never felt this happy, this full of hope.

***

One night, early on, Kyle asked if I liked Ryan Adams.

I hadn’t ever really listened to him, I admitted.

“What?” he said. “Oh, babe, you’re gonna love him.”

And I did. I do.

This song is one of the first we listened to, on my computer, thanks to YouTube. It will always remind me of the simple beauty of those early days, and of the promise of everything ahead.

“In My Time of Need” – Ryan Adams

Giving it all a go

My back is burning and I’m eating graham crackers, the snack that always makes me feel like a kid.

The rockstar is asleep on the couch, fighting a cold or a fever or allergies or exhaustion or some combination of all of the above.

The little boy is playing Legos and the little girl is out and about.

I’m sitting here, by the fire, cat purring by my leg, trying to think of something to say.

Wondering if I want to have anything to say.

I do, of course, have things to say and like it that way. But what I’ve been trying to figure out for the past few weeks is whether I want to continue to share everything. Here or on Facebook or in any other virtual space.

I’ve been feeling like maybe not being quite so … open. Maybe not being quite so quick to write about the bad stuff that happens to good people, or the good stuff that happens to good people.

Or any of it.

I’ve been realizing maybe it’s not anyone else’s business.

But I don’t want to give this up (though I’ve considered it). I have such appreciation for those of you who support me and my family and my choices and check in every now and then at this little blog.

I love writing, the power of words and stories and the difference sharing our lives can make.

It’s incredible. Really.

I don’t want to lose the connection I have with so many of you.

But I don’t want to feel judged. I don’t want to be judged. I just wanted to do this little thing and live and laugh and learn and grow and let this just be what it was: a blog.

So the past couple weeks I’ve been up in my head, exploring my heart. Just trying to figure this all out.

(Yes, I know, universe, that will be a constant in this life.)

I’m writing now, my back to the fire, the cat purring, the rest of the house quiet. I’m giving it a go. I’m seeing where this post takes me.

I’m thinking once we move out of here, if I’m fortunate enough to get a job some place nice, I’ll keep our new locale to myself. I’ll set about making a home for my family, making sure my husband is happy, my kids are healthy, that my home feels like home.

Our home.

The thought alone makes me smile.

There, we’ll finally start the next chapter, with love.

This love story

The first time I fell in love I was 4 years old and obsessed.

The object of my affection had curly red hair, a voice that could win over even a stodgy bald rich guy and the awesomest, spunkiest, don’t-ever-give-up attitude ever.

She had the sweetest friend, Molly, a locket I coveted and a story that tugged at my little-girl heartstrings.

Her name was Annie and she taught us all, way back then, that even on the worst days, the sun comes out tomorrow.

My love affairs moved on, over the years, to include such characters as the Scarecrow from the “Wizard of Oz,” Charles Ingalls from “Little House on the Prairie” and Kevin Arnold from “The Wonder Years.”

And then there was that boy band in the late 80s/early 90s. I might have had a little thing for them.

Real-life love stories are a lot different than celebrity crushes, of course. We all learn this (the hard way?) growing up. Middle-school, anyone?

My real-life love story, has several chapters.

Though my book is far from finished, I’m on the last chapter. It’s going to be a long one, so settle in.

Being with the man I know I was always supposed to find is the perfect ending to my love story that’s just beginning.

Our love story that’s just beginning. (!!!)

So the final time I fell in love I was 30-something years old and head over heels.

There is a sense of peace about our lives now that I’m not sure I ever remember feeling.

I like it.

And I’m grateful. So thankful.

How lucky we are.

Happy Valentine’s Day, my love, my babies and everyone else. Here’s to new beginnings and final chapters!

Hope and beauty and the rest of our lives

I woke up with the little girl earlier than I ever want to be awake.

It was still dark and she had to go potty. So we stumbled into the hallway and to the bathroom where I helped her slip her arms out of her feet jammies. My eyes were half open.

She finished, we pulled her jammies back on and headed back into the hallway.

I opened my eyes.

The sun was rising, see, and it was the prettiest orange glow of day beginning I’ve seen in a very long time.

Out the big windows in the family room, the sky shone an intense, rich hue of orange, out on the horizon. The forest-like backyard and the bluffs further back were dark against the bright color, silhouettes waking up in the shadow of the day to come.

It was beautiful.

And I thought to myself: I almost missed this.

And I wondered: How many other moments of beauty do we miss all the time? Because we’re asleep, or because we’re rushing to meet the demands of the day (kids fed, dressed, cleaned and to school on time, our own selves ready for work or other commitments, our houses cleaned, our yards cared for, our pets played with, our friends and family paid attention to, dinner made, dishes done, laundry folded … new blog posts written …). Or because we just don’t pay attention.

The fiance and I were running yesterday and we saw deer – a whole family of deer, running, galloping across a small field of snow. The way they bounded, so graceful, right there in basically the middle of town, well, I felt lucky to see it. Even though they were just deer and even though they were doing nothing but running, to me, at least on that day, it was beautiful.

And right now, the little girl is eating oranges and dancing. I call it dancing, though sometimes it’s more like jumping, sometimes it’s more galloping, her long blonde hair flying up behind her, her eyes big and smiling.

She is so carefree. So precocious. So beautiful.

***

I’m reluctant to write about job prospects here because it seems when I do, I somehow jinx myself. That said, I have a second interview today for a job I really want.

It’s far away.

But we want it to happen.

If it happens, we’d pack up our stuff and go, next month. We’d get in our cars and drive and we’d start a new life, the first chapter of the rest of our lives together, as a family.

The thought of this sort of new beginning almost makes me cry.

All that opportunity, all that potential, all that power to make this life whatever we want it to be … whew. It’s wonderful and scary and plain old real and exciting all at the same time.

Here’s hoping.

***

Finally, this came out a couple weeks ago, and I realized today I haven’t posted it here yet.

The fiance in a hot air balloon, singing a new song he wrote (video thanks to Love Drunk):

“When to Let Go” – Kyle Harvey

Being enough

Last November, I had a message in my Facebook inbox from a name I didn’t recognize.

Christina Olcott Mundell had lost her job the previous week, too, and she wanted to let me know I wasn’t alone. She wanted to let me know there was another person out there trying to hold it together, too. She wanted to let me know she’d loved the work I did.

I appreciated her note and told her so.

A couple months later, she messaged me again. This time, she wanted to tell me I’d inspired her. She’d started her own blog.

I checked it out.

It’s really good.

Honest and real and just the way I like it. Christina, who lives in Cozad with her husband and kids, writes about her life at Good at Beginnings.

Today, she wrote a guest post for Single Mom with Love. I hope there will be more where this came from, in the months ahead.

Christina Mundell, Good at BeginningsĀ 

Counseling. A pill regime that would rival that of any senior citizen. Blogging for therapy. Reading assignments for counseling, along with homework. Taking time for me. Riding my bike. Going for walks. Reaching out to others when I need help.

It’s got to come together eventually.

I struggle daily to juggle all my roles. I feel like I always have too many balls in the air, and I realize part of that is that I overextend myself. I try to take on the world, by myself, and I think things are my responsibility alone. I’m working on that.

But I hate asking for help.

The days I feel like I’ve been an awesome mom, I’ll later realize I was a below-par wife. Or a less-than-enough friend. Then on the days I feel like I’m rockin’ the friend thing, I realize I’ve dropped the ball in the mommyhood department.

It is exhausting to feel like I’m doing any of these roles justice.

Even when I have a great day and feel like I’ve done the very best I can, doubt creeps in and the positivity of that entire day is gone. In a flash. Snap. It’s gone. I’m back to doubting my abilities and myself, being anxious about the next day before it’s even here and wondering how I’m going to do it all again tomorrow.

My days begin with that anxious feeling. I pop a pill when I wake up and think, “Why can’t I just be happy and not depend on a pill to make it through the day?” Fast forward to that evening, and I’m popping two more pills thinking, “Seriously? Pills to sleep at night? How hard is it to just sleep? I’m not trying hard enough!”

Some days, the anxiety and depression are overwhelming. And when those days run into each other, I struggle even more. I don’t ask for help. I distance myself from my friends and family. I feel the quicksand pouring over me and don’t know how to stop it.

I found myself in that quicksand this winter. I was suffocating. I couldn’t catch my breath, and I couldn’t even whisper for help, let alone scream for it.

I put my beautiful boys to bed and decided I’d check out. I took my time going through the medicine cabinet, wondering what would be the quickest and most likely to work. I poured myself a glass of water and swallowed them. Three handfuls of pills. I laid down on the couch, pulled the covers over my head and waited.

I fell asleep crying.

I woke up the next morning.

I heard the kids getting ready for school, and for a minute, I laid there wondering what was going on. I moved the covers. I was still here. I pulled the covers back over my head and cried. I had never been more disappointed to wake up in my life.

I spent the next couple days in a haze. I felt even worse about myself. Who screws up their suicide attempt? Who could I even talk to about it?

No one is going to understand. No one gets what it’s like to feel this way.

Why can’t I just be enough?

It’s a daily battle to be enough. Some days my voice is strong and I convince myself I am. Other days, it’s all I can do to make it through the day.

But now, on those days, I promise myself I will try again tomorrow.

I know I have to learn to be louder than that voice in my head. That voice that some days screams at me.

I’m trying to learn to scream back: I am enough.

Christina Olcott Mundell blogs at http://goodatbeginnings.blogspot.com.

It’s true

Being homeless isn’t so bad.

We’re not really homeless, of course. We’re living with family. We have our own space. We have really nice people surrounding us.

It sort of feels like home.

It’s been a week since we moved out of the pretty yellow house in Dundee. Leaving was hard. I haven’t cried as hard as I did pulling out of the driveway for the last time in quite a while.

But you know what? Now? I don’t really miss it.

Life is funny like that.

It feels good being done with that chapter actually. It feels good not having to worry about the monthly mortgage payment or the utilities or how to make the grass look green again come summer or what to do if the furnace goes out or shoveling that long driveway or changing the battery in the fire alarm so it will shut up or … any of those things that come with being a homeowner.

I do hope we have a home again someday, though. One we pick out together. One where maybe we can stay a while, maybe a long time. I like that idea.

One of the last things I packed up was a small framed picture that hung in my bathroom. It’s an abstract drawing of two people in bright colors. Beneath them, it says: “They came to sit and dangle their feet off the edge of the world. And after awhile, they forgot everything but the good and true things they would do someday.”

I’ve loved this for a long time.

To me, this message is hope of a better tomorrow, of the power of dreams, of the beauty of being together. It’s a message of simplicity. It reminds me to slow down and remember what’s important, what’s possible. What’s true.

It’s in our new, borrowed bathroom now. And it fits just fine here, too. In our new, borrowed home.

***

On Christmas Eve, right after he proposed, my fiance gave me a couple records (“There’s more?!” I said). One was Ray LaMontagne. If you haven’t heard him, go and listen.

Start with this song:

“Trouble” by Ray LaMontagne