Alone Experiment 2

IMG_4513This year, I lived alone for three months in sunny Florida while my husband toiled in Detroit’s deep freeze. To my surprise, I learned I am not alone, helpless, worthless or incompetent, despite feeling all that for much of the time. When I confessed my doubts about going it alone, my wise friend Karen said “You’ll figure it out.”

She was right.

The reason my confidence was some days at zero turned out to be pretty simple, even though it took awhile for the light to click on. And I’m embarrassed that my helplessness was a learned behavior. I have never been a pampered princess. I’d been on my own plenty before. I’d even been a single mom, where being the adult in the room is a requirement. Most days I got it right.

My loser mentality at age 63 was simple. Over the course of 30+ years of marriage, I gave up making decisions. I’d hated balancing my tiny single mom budget, so my husband took care of money matters while I wrote. I have little mechanical ability, but my husband is a star in the Mr Fix It world, so he did all that stuff too. While I wrote.

IMG_4542

The thing is, today, if I were truly alone, I’d be fine. Yes, I’d do things differently than my husband does them, but nevertheless, I would persist. Yes, it would cost more for repairs and replacements of broken things, but that’s not a problem these days like it was when I was a single mom on pink-collar poverty level wages and my rusted out old car wouldn’t start.

When I married Al, my first thought (after “wow do I love this man”) was that I would never again have to look at the price of any item in the grocery store. I could fill my cart with abandon. What a lavish relief to have that kind of freedom from economic hardship. We weren’t rich, but we didn’t live paycheck to paycheck, either.

But this year, living alone, I found that the single thing I needed to do to feel like a competent and capable adult was to take more responsibility for the jobs I’d gladly handed over to Al all those years ago. I needed to be my own financial manager, I needed to take car of my own car, I needed to make big decisions on my own without second-guessing myself.

IMG_4543

Sound easy? It’s not. Al has a set of life tools that are much shinier than mine. He doesn’t mind showing his knowledge off, or insisting he knows best, either. And while I admire a man who can cook and clean and do his own laundry as well as keep the financial empire afloat, it’s time to do what he’s been asking of me for years: to step up. Learn the map of our financial picture. Make some decisions on my own about what I need and what can be given away as we move into the next time of our life.

Best laid plans go awry. But I have someone to work things out with, someone who knows most of the answers to my barely articulated questions. I am not alone. And if I am really alone for good at some point, I feel confident now I can handle whatever life throws my way. Yes, it’s easier and more satisfying to share life’s burdens and joys. But there’s a certain kind of comfort it knowing all will be well, no matter what.

 

 

Life Among the Couples

Long Bayou held a dance for Valentine’s Day last night. Earlier, I’d gotten most of my hair cut off but left the  silver at the roots. I am growing into that silver just as I am learning to face my many fears alone. The stuff I’m afraid of could fill a book, but the little six inch lizard that found it’s way into my home seriously freaked me out. I called my husband even knowing he could do nothing for me in Michigan. He didn’t answer the phone.

I used ant spray on the slippery little creature and swear his beady little eyes looked into mine asking “Why?” before he disappeared under the door to the heating and cooling unit. Then I went to the internet and found out these guys are harmless and also everywhere in Florida. Even inside houses. They climb walls and hide behind picture frames. Still, I chose this place to live and I have to make peace with its ways.

I applied courage like a third layer of mascara and put on my party clothes. My friend came upstairs for a drink before the dance. She peered in the closet with a flashlight, but there was no sign of my tiny intruder. Just one more thing I’m going to have to get used to here. That’s another long list of stuff: what I need to adjust to, what I need to figure out, what I must endure alone.

I texted my absent husband then went to the dance. The band was musically proficient but they played mostly romantic songs so the couples could slow dance. Karen and I sipped our wine, danced a little bit, but mostly looked on. We left early; I went up to my condo alone. I looked around for the lizard. I looked at my phone. No text from my husband, but on the plus side, no sign of the lizard, either.

 

 

Christmas Wishes

Today is the worldwide release of my latest novel for The Wild Rose Press, Blue Lake Christmas Mystery. Writing a Christmas novel has long been a dream of mine and finally last year I did it. There were some surprises along the way, like the dead body at the holiday party. But I cracked on, as my British friend Ali would say, and Blue Lake Christmas turned into Blue Lake Christmas Mystery.

This is the first time my publisher has positioned one of my books in their mystery imprint, which is kind of thrilling as I love reading mysteries as much as Christmas stories. And that’s my advice to anyone who wants to write a book: ask yourself what you love to read, and then write a book like that. Otherwise, it won’t be half the fun.

fullsizeoutput_1820Tomorrow, in a bit of serendipity that feels like a Christmas blessing, I’ll be at a book signing…at a holiday art and craft fair. I could not have planned it better if I had worked for a year to organize such a happening. I did plan to be at the event, but I had no idea my book would be released in time for the fair.

In another sort of holiday miracle, here I am again after four months of writing my “last post.” :)) Not saying I’m going to be writing every week again, but I do have some pretty exciting adventures ahead in 2017 and I’ve been thinking they’d be fun to blog about.

I’ll be in my new house in Florida for the winter months. Al will join me in January for a few weeks, but then he has to come back to Michigan to work. So I will be on my own entirely until he returns in March. We have only ever been apart for a few days in our 31 years of marriage, so it will be quite a challenge. I rely on him for so much. As he relies on me. So each of us will have to manage on our own for those winter months.

My idea is to write about the highs and lows of that journey, so watch this space.

Meanwhile, happy holidays.