Posted by: soulshinemoments | October 23, 2013


Love is patient, everything else is impatient. Passion is impatient, love is patient. And once you understand that to be patient is to be loving, and to be patient is to be in prayer, then everything is understood. One has to learn how to wait. There are some things that cannot be done, they only happen, they happen to you, you become the receiving end, and that is the meaning of surrender. -Osho

Fighting for Balance

I was wound up so tight yesterday–snapping and tearing at the seems. It is not an ideal mental state to be in as a graduate student of social work. Then again, it is a perfect place to be in, to some extent, as well. My purpose for going to school is to learn and serve and learn how to serve and be open and aware of as much information as I can. That is very hard to do when I can’t get my shit together and feel on the verge of despair and sadness. Thankfully, I was surrounded by intelligent, kind-hearted friends who know exactly how to handle overwhelmed, depressed individuals. Some people have to pay for therapy, and I get mine for free and with some of the best up and coming MSW/LMSW candidates there are. 😉

Struggling with My Many Roles

That is the elemental and constant struggle I have and am having–struggling with my many roles. After a kind of intense day at school Monday (including a great Group Therapy class which really caused my little wheels to churn upstairs), I drove home from school mentally exhausted. Ready to just chill. But not really wanting to allow myself to do that because I know all of the up and coming assignments that are due.

When I pulled in the drive-way, I received a call and then a text from my friend and neighbor, “Call me!” I was concerned at first, but after I called her back, realized she just wanted to share with me that she just learned her mother in law is a social worker for hospice and that it would be a great connection for me to make. As she and I are ya-ya-ing back and forth as I am sitting in my parked car on the phone with her, I get a text from Ariel. I figured that meant it was my time to get inside the house. As I am on the phone and walking in the house, Jackson runs up to me and gives me a gigantic hug (it truly is the sweetest feeling). I tell my neighbor I need to go.

As soon as I hang up the phone, Ariel asks, “Hey, Olivia! Can you help me write my invitations for my birthday party this weekend?” My first response was to tell her no (because, holy shit, can I please go take a piss, take off my shoes, grab some dinner?). She said ok and that she would just wait until her dad got home at 9:00pm. I started to feel a twinge of guilt for not helping her for her big 13th birthday party so I changed my mind and told her I would help. (Plus, I always feel sad for her that her biological mom is so far away and so uninvolved. That’s a huge gap that I feel obligated to fill…as shitty as I kinda do it.) As we are sitting at the kitchen table, and actually having some really good conversations and working on her invites, Jackson takes a few falls and tumbles and just throws some crying fits in general.

Ommmmmm…… I was definitely starting to lose my zen at this point, but still taking deep breaths and trying to enjoy the kids.

After I was finished helping Ariel and heated up left-overs, Jack comes in the door from a Mens Group for Church. Before he can even take a breath (or me for that matter), he starts telling me a long, play-by-play of his day. I start to change Jackson’s diaper, and Jack keeps talking about his day. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely don’t mind and actually love hearing about his day. But, the kids were still awake, the house was a wreck, Jackson needed his butt changed and to be put to bed. (And, I still hadn’t even peed at that point!)

I stopped Jack and told him to hold on and let me get Jackson to bed. He agreed. So I put Jackson to bed, came back downstairs, lit a candle, and tried to be a mindful and loving presence to my Love who I had not seen all day.

He proceeds to tell me about his day. Then he starts talking about this upcoming, incredibly busy weekend. This weekend involves: Jack’s dad, step-mom, and sister coming in from Ohio, Me watching our neighbors two kids so she can go to a concert, Ariel’s best friend from school staying with us from Thursday night to Sunday night, a man from a glass distributing place stopping by to perhaps take some of Jack’s Glass to sell, and me trying to figure out how to study for a test and finish THREE papers coming up the week after next. Not to mention, all of the underlying tension I am feeling this week stirring from it being the one year anniversary since my dad passed away (Thursday will make a year).


Oh, shit.

(The Good, The Bad, &) THE UGLY

So by this point in the night, my anxieties are high. Mindfulness, deep breathing? Foreign concepts to me by now.

Jack also starts talking to me about finances–how we are going to have to rob Peter to pay Paul, essentially. And in the same sentence, he tells me how we are going to take Ariel to the mall this weekend so she can go on a shopping spree. I, Jack decided, would go with Ariel, Ariel’s friend, and Ariel’s Grandma to take her to the stores she wanted to go while Jack, Jackson, and Jack’s dad would go do their “guy stuff” (ie, watch a football game in a pub connected to the mall.)

Hold up, what?! What the fuck?

My two year old inner self started to show her ugly head by this point.

“I don’t want to take Ariel shopping,” I said.

“Well, it’s not really what you want. It’s her big 13th birthday and we have family in town. If dad (Ariel’s Papa) wants to take her to the mall, then that’s how it’s going to happen.”

Oh, no he didn’t.

By this point, I’m just plain pissed on so many levels. Selfish it may be, but I can’t help it. I am upset that I have the one who has to drop all the many things on my plate to take Ariel on a shopping spree to buy more crap she doesn’t need all the while we are struggling to pay our utilities. I am angry that Ariel’s mother doesn’t send us child support so that this wouldn’t be such a big deal. I am angry that I am just expected to fill in the gap of Ariel’s mother–with no ring on my finger, by the way. I am angry that I just don’t have space to breathe. To take care of what I need to take care of. And I am angry at myself that I feel all these emotions and that I can’t just feel compassion and selflessness at this situation. But, I don’t. And I can’t.

I said, “I really need time to myself Friday and ALL DAY Sunday to get some school work done.”

He said, in a bitter tone, “Well that’s on you.” And then, “So….what? You’re not even coming to Ariel’s party now?”

“Excuse me!? Did I even say that? And, guess what. You can turn your tone around cause I’m not Ariel’s mother Oregon right now. Don’t even turn this around on me. Oh…and also! Guess what! I have to take time out to study and write my papers so that I can make good grades so that I can graduate in May so that I can get a job so that I can support YOU AND YOUR DAUGHTER!!!”

I grabbed my school bag and stormed upstairs. I know that was ugly of me, but I said it anyway. Because it feels true on some levels.

Mindfulness Fail

I am taking this four week mindfulness class at the yoga studio, so I had this idea to try to meditate for 30 minutes. I set my timer and I tried. I tried to acknowledge my emotions and thoughts. To realize this, too, will pass. To realize that I am letting my negative thoughts control my inner peace, etc.

It felt ineffective.

I was still pissed after the 30 minutes.

And then, I was pissed that the meditation wasn’t working. So on came the negative thoughts. My zen was officially out the door.

I really don’t like going to bed angry. So a couple hours later, I tried to go downstairs and talk to Jack some more, but still felt angry.

He told me he loved me and to not get stressed about school…then he threw in, “Oh, that’s right. You have to get stressed at school so you can get a job and ‘support me and my daughter’.”

Maybe this was the point I should have apologized, but I still am unsure if I feel remorse at what I said….

I woke up the next morning, still upset, but feeling more despair and hopeless and not very empowered.

Friend Therapy

I met my social work girls at the cafeteria to study for our midterm coming up at 2:00pm. My mind and heart were really not into it, but I tried the best I could. S and I studied for awhile at first before I finally told her what was on my mind. She was so helpful. She did all the appropriate things like validate my feelings, listen, support me.

One thing in particular she said to me that stuck out, “Years from now, Ariel isn’t going to remember what gifts and presents she received from her mother, but she is going to remember you being there with her on her birthday party and how you made her feel. That will stick with her forever.”

I loved that. That was a big paradigm shift for me. Her birthday is about celebrating life. It’s not about me feeling inadequate as I fumble around, trying to fill this gigantic role that has been forced on me. It’s not about me trying to squeeze the last of my pennies together to buy her some little trinket that will be donated to charity six months from now. It is about me trying to create an environment of celebration, calm, and happiness. And helping Ariel’s memories of that day rest in that…not in the superficial stuff.

S. also said to me, “And in six months, we will all have jobs and the stress level we are all under will be so much less. Just hang in there.”

A little while later Rinny showed up to our table. She, too, was like a gift from God for me. Really yesterday made me truly understand the concept of there being a silver lining in the clouds.

She said to me that I really am a great step-mother and not to be so hard on myself. She said that I was a great role model for Ariel because I was able to go to school, prepare to start a career, have a family, have a good relationship with her dad, take care of myself….these were really positive things for Ariel to see and be apart of. That really, truly helped.

S. and Rinny also had to throw in, good social workers that they are, “You can also get some anti-depressant pills and talk to a therapist on campus for free!” Ha…Love my social work girls so fucking much!

My other sweet social work friend (and fellow intern at hospice), L., joined me out in the hall after our midterm. I told her a little of how I was feeling overwhelmed and panicked. She, being a mother of three boys herself and having a husband who travels every week, gave me a gigantic hug!

“I know, I know, I know! It is so tough! Why don’t you call your supervisor and tell her you need tomorrow off and take a mental health day? You are already ahead on your hours and you know how easy-going she is. I am taking a day off of internship next week to celebrate Halloween. I think if you had even a day to yourself, you would feel much better.”

What a brilliant freaking idea! So I agreed to do that and my supervisor responded with a “No problem, I completely understand!”

A Reminder for Self-Care

After our midterm, Rinny and I went and grabbed a coffee at Starbucks off campus in which she provided me with even more therapy! God, I was one needy SOB yesterday. She told me how much she loved me and that if it weren’t for me being in grad school, she would have dropped out by now. HA! She encouraged me to take time out EVERYDAY for myself.

She is a social work intern and works with mom’s who have had substance abuse issues and have lost their kids. She said to me, “I have to even tell the moms that I work with that they MUST take time out for themselves. They say to me that they feel guilty, but I tell them that until they are able to take care of themselves, they won’t be the most effective mom. That goes for you, too. I think you need to pencil in on your calendar to take time out for yourself–even if its just an hour a day and locking yourself in your room and listening to music. You need to do it! What do you do for self-care, anyway?”

“Ummm….errr…I….go to school and hang out with you guys!”

“What about yoga? What happened to yoga?”

“I miss it so bad, I just hurt my back and now I feel like I don’t have the time.”

“Well, whatever you do, just put your needs as a priority. Treat yourself as you treat others–as you treat me, dude.”

“I know all this, it’s just hard to make it a reality.”

I also told her how much I felt like I sucked at mindfulness…especially the night before when I could have really used it to take away my bad feelings.

She said that mindfulness takes a shit-ton of practice. Really only maybe Buddhist Monks who spends hours and hours a day meditating could control their mind and emotions in such a way.

Just keep practicing.

Finding the Calm, Again

When I came home yesterday, I had quickly learned from my mistakes the night before.

Ariel was watching Jackson, Jack was cleaning the basement, I said hello, gave Jackson a big hello and a kiss, went RIGHT upstairs and ran a hot bath. Before dealing with anyone else, I was going to pee, take a bath, and shave my legs. It was such a calming reward. I had a chance to b-r-e-a-t-h-e. I had a chance to easily meditate and practice mindfulness. No guilt looming over me. No agitation or irritation. Just breathing, in and out, in silence.

After my bath, I felt so calm and able to really give Jackson and Ariel my attention and my being.

As I was feeding Jackson some dinner, Ariel started telling me about her day and going on about how excited she is about her birthday party. We were having a nice conversation about it. She then started telling me about a situation that was going on between her and one of her acquaintance. As she was telling me this story, she started talking about Jack and me and then she referred to Jack and me as “my parents”. My heart melted. She has always referred to me as “my dad’s girlfriend” or “Olivia”. Last week she referred to me as her “step-mom” and then, last night, as her “parent”. I felt like some trust is happening now that she is giving me this title. It made me feel really hopeful and good.

I texted Rinny what she said and her response was, “Oh my God, Dude! That’s huge!! I didn’t start referring to my dad and step-mom as my ‘parents’ until a few years ago.”

I read Jackson a couple of books as he fell asleep on my shoulder, put him to bed, and listened to music. As I was listening to music, I found some old journal entries I wrote three years ago about Jack and about Ariel. It was really eye-opening to read those entries. They were naive in some ways, but also reminded me of the initial deep love I had (and have, though sometimes buried it may be) for the both of them.

Great Discomfort Before Great Progress

My best Florida friend, EC, out of the blue, started texting me around this time, too. She asked me how my day had been and I said I had been having a bit of a rough time in some ways.

She said, “You become more wise, beatiful and inspiring by the moment. Always great discomfort before great progress. You are fabulous!” And then sent me these letters we had written to each other three and four years ago. They were hilarious to re-read. She ended our conversation with, “Be kind to yourself and patient with progress. You’re such a help to me in difficult times. You’re needed and loved!”

Jack and I listened to some Dave Matthews Band and fell asleep on the couch together with a candle lit by the time midnight rolled around. I finally had such a peace that everything is going to be okay in the end.

It’s not About the Outward Appearance, It’s About How It Makes You Feel

Today I took my first yoga class since August. It was a Yin Yoga class lead by this guy in his middle 30’s who specializes in Zen Meditation. So perfect for me. I felt so calm while taking his class and his reassuring us to listen to our inner voice and do what works for us. To let go of how poses are supposed to look, but to listen to our body.

Now I am at starbucks, blogging in here, and feeling so much better than I did yesterday. I am so glad I took today off. I am going to get some work done and get some balance back in my life. Feeling grateful to the Universe for giving me exactly what I need and feeling especially blessed when it comes to my many fulfilling friendships that I have.



These are some samples of the letters EC and I were writing back and forth to each other.  They make me smile so hard….



Letters that EC and I were writing back and forth to each other ❤






This is how I want to live my life….



  1. […] Originally posted here: Surrender […]

  2. Life is challenging. But without these challenges you wouldn’t appreciate the rewards and celebrate them. (Like being called a parent!)

    (Oh, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with what you said to Jack. My guess is he said it back – passively – because he feels that way, too. He just didn’t want to hear it!)


    • Hehe you’re very right! After all that drama, I ended up having a great wknd. Thank you for your encouraging words. It means so much! Xo

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