Archive for the ‘Coping Tips’ Category

Life Lessons

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

I thought I’d interrupt the de-clutter fest to talk about some very valuable life lessons I learned this past week:

1 – I don’t care how much fun you are having with your writing buddy: do NOT drink an entire bottle of wine on a school night and forget to drink gallons and gallons of water to offset the dehydration. No Bueno.

2 – Do not schedule your annual physical on a beautiful Friday afternoon when you still have work to do at the office and then proceed to get into a ‘discussion’ about hormone replacement therapy (Dr: Pro; Lara: Con) and expect to get back to work in time to finish up your work and then leave by 5pm. This will result in your being inside on the most beautiful day of spring until well after 6pm. You will be ticked.

3 – Do not run out of your estrogen patch. (See #2 above and note the irony that I was arguing “con”.) More specifically: do not run out of your estrogen patch and then flip your lid at an email at 8pm and shoot off a zinger of an email, cc’ing your boss.

4 – Put zinger emails, cc’ing your boss, into a “draft” folder in your email software. Sleep on it. Check it in the morning. See if you still feel the way that you did when you wrote it or if you just sound like a crazy witch who has been off of estrogen for two weeks. (Don’t laugh: some of you know you’ve been there!)

5 – Do not try super gluing ANYTHING after two bottles of Hard Cider. Trust me: you will end up with every finger glued together and/or skin all over whatever the heck you decided to fix. This sounds gross but: skin does not come off of wood, particularly after being affixed with super glue. (Cyndee: I hear you: “You can’t super glue wood!” You can if you mix a little human epidermis with it.)

6 – Do not keep peanut/almond butter in the house if you plan on drinking an entire bottle of wine and/or two bottles of Hard Cider and you know you are susceptible to eating the ENTIRE jar with a spoon even without being hammered. (Mother: this one falls squarely on your shoulders!)

7 – Do not watch your favorite home shopping network after drinking aforementioned wine/cider and then wonder why all of these packages are showing up at your front door. (The same could be said of Ambien but that is a whole other story.)

8 – Learn how to say ‘Thank You” when you’ve received an awesome compliment. Cyndee, who is helping me declutter, is one awesome chick. I sent her an email telling her how much she meant to me and how I wished I had more of her energy, her positive attitude and her eye for design. I said I hoped her family knew how lucky they were to have her.

She responded to me and said, “Are you drunk?” Since there seems to be a lot of “Life Lessons” revolving around alcohol I’m going to say that just for the record: that night I wasn’t drunk.

9 – Noting that there are several of these lessons that do involve alcohol, I’d like to point out that lesson number nine is: First you have to admit you have a problem……

Just kidding.

No really.

I’m fine.

Hey! Give me that bottle back!!!

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We Interrupt the Drama of My Life for Something More Long Distance Related…

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

In today’s Sunday paper I was pleased to see a column Q&A on Long Distance Relationships in one of those colorful Sunday magazine flyers: USA Weekend Magazine. Written by RelationTips writer, Dennie Hughes, she answers the question, “My boyfriend will be transferring to a school across the country. Do you think that, with all the “face-to-face” technology available, a long-distance relationship could work?”

The answer provided by Hughes starts by talking about inexpensive technology: web cams and Skype, Facebook and Twitter. She also touches on blogging, instant messaging and something I’d never thought about: playing online board games together.

She does mention that LDR’s can work if you are already in an established relationship but doesn’t seem to think it can work if a couple is in the early stages. For the full article click here.

I’m curious as to why she pooh-poohs people just getting started in a relationship. Obviously she doesn’t know our guest blogger and friend Amy who was kind enough to share her story with us in September. Amy met her husband on-line when they lived states apart. They just celebrated their 11th anniversary in the Spring.

Nor has Hughes met my friend and neighbor who met the man who would become her husband literally hours before she boarded a plane back home from her dream vacation in Egypt. They not only managed to get through those first few months, they are now several years married and have a beautiful son.

Hey Dennie – don’t be so quick to dismiss new love, even if it is miles or continents apart. It may not be “ideal” or more likely the real issue it doesn’t comply with what most people think are “normal” relationships. But people make it work all the time.

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When Bad Things Happen

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

In any relationship, but even more importantly in a long distance relationship, it is imperative that you have a plan for when emergencies arise. Because unfortunately, they will: that’s just life. Not to sound all Negative Nellie but we’re all only one phone call away from a crisis.

Since Mr. J and I have been apart I’ve lost two grandparents, three aunts, one uncle, and very painfully: my three cats (before Alex and Jamison, my current cats).

This last week we had one of the most feared phone calls that a parent could ever take:

“Your child is in intensive care and may not make it.”

Now I know that if you’ve checked my “About Me” page you’ll see that I said Mr. J and I were DINKS: Dual Income. No Kids. And we don’t have any children. Together.

But Mr. J has a son from a former marriage. And he got that dreaded phone call last Wednesday evening.

His son was in intensive care: H1N1, his lungs so filled up with fluid impairing his breathing to the point that his lips were turning blue. Because of his compromised situation, he was placed into a drug induced coma.

Mr. J’s son is in TX – far, far from where we live (either of us) in the Snow Belt.

To further complicate matters, Mr. J and his son aren’t on speaking terms and haven’t been since his parents divorced. But estrangement doesn’t mean that Mr. J has ever, for a single second, forgotten his boy. The pain I’ve seen in my husband’s eyes makes my own heart ache. The fear I saw when I arrived at his apartment, five hours after I received the call, made my blood run cold.

I wish I could say I empathize. But I can’t. I don’t have any children. Medical issues prevented me from carrying a child and ironically from being able to adopt one either. There is no way that I could understand what it means to get a call that says your child may not live. I didn’t even try.

I just held Mr. J while he tried to process this terrible truth and to understand how to act: should he go and risk upsetting his son still further? But there was really no question: he had to go.

Early the next morning Mr. J headed for the airport and I packed up his cat to bring back home with me.

Because of the estrangement from his father, I’ve never really considered Mr. J’s son my stepson. But that all changed the moment we got the call.

In a flash I was on Facebook, asking for positive energy and prayers. My parents, who’ve never even met my stepson, were on the phone around the clock, asking for updates, talking to Mr. J, worrying like he was their own grandchild. Over a hundred people Mr. J’s son doesn’t even know were pulling for him.

Thankfully, Mr. J’s son has made it “over the hump” per his pulmonary doctors. They believe he will make it now. But he has a long road ahead.

I hope that somewhere along the way, he and his father can sit down and work out their differences. I keep hearing a line from a Don Henley song in my head, “You see a lot more meanness in the city….the kind that eats you up inside.”

Meanness, anger, bitterness. Don Henley had it right: they will eat you up inside. My fervent prayer is that this crisis will open the door of communication between two men who haven’t spoken in over ten years.

If anyone has a spare moment, I’d appreciate positive energy sent my stepson’s way. May he grow strong in body and in understanding of how precious life and the lives of those you love is. May he open his heart to recognize how much his father loves him. And may he know that he has a whole community of people he’s never met who wish him love, joy, and sweet, sweet recovery.

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You Do What??

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

I cook meals for Mr. J to take home with him. People look askance at me for this practice: like they think I’ve lost my mind. “Why would you do that?” I’ve been asked repeatedly.

Let’s be very clear on this point: I’m no Julia Childs. I’m cooking plain food that can travel well. Meat loaf, chili, beef stew, garlic chicken breasts. And I guess I should clarify: I’m cooking the entrée. He is responsible for side dishes and by side dishes I mean vegetables.

As we’ve already discussed in an earlier post nutrition is not Mr. J’s friend. When Mr. J and I met his eating habits were questionable at best. Everything was processed, and there was not a green vegetable to be seen. To him the four food groups were: sugar, whole milk, coffee and beef. Bless him.

I’ve spent years cleaning up his food act (along with my own) and I’m not going to lose ground by having him revert to Dinty Moore stew five nights a week. Has anyone ever even smelled that stuff? That goes double for Wolf Brand Chili. Yuck.

On the weekend he is home we shop and then I prepare him two entrees that he can take back and alternate and/or freeze for the next two weeks. We also discuss and then pick up which vegetables that will go best with the main dishes.

Cooking for him solves several problems:
1. Cooking for one is difficult and most people just won’t do it. Cooking for two is just easier.
2. I get to keep an eye on both of our diets and ensure that we aren’t subsisting on frozen meals or just snacking our way through the dinner hour.
3. It saves money and our diet by eating in instead of picking up take out on the way home.
4. Mr. J has said that eating something I have cooked for him is a little bit like me being there.

I will never be taken for Martha Stewart but at least I can say that I put together nutritious and (hopefully) tasty meals on both of our tables, states apart.

Bon Appétit!

P.S. I’ve very excited to report that my next blog will be a guest blog from a fellow LDR’r. In her own words you’ll get to hear her story of how she and her husband met online, met in real life and ultimately fell in love and married. Stay tuned!

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To Clean or Not to Clean

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

On the off weekends when Mr. J isn’t scheduled home, I struggle with the question of whether or not to clean the house.

In the interest of full disclosure you should know that by “clean” I mean pick up the miscellaneous junk that has cluttered the downstairs throughout the week and running the vacuum cleaner. That does not mean: dusting, cleaning the toilet bowl or mopping the floor. The house isn’t exactly sporting goat trails. Except for upstairs.

What is going on upstairs you might ask. On July 4th weekend, we started cleaning out closets. If I can ever make myself finish that “little” project there’s probably a post about that process in the piles and piles of junk somewhere. Here’s hoping that motivates me to get back up there and dig back in. Bit of a packrat, I am. As is Mr. J, which is a lethal combination: two packrats together, even if they don’t live together.

The weekends he doesn’t come home I think, “Why bother cleaning up? The junk will still be there next week and I can do it all at once on Thursday night before he gets home, thus freeing up my weekend for copious amounts of exercising, reading and writing….and maybe just a tad of home shopping.

Inevitably come Sunday evening I get restless and decide that I need to clean the house (again I refer you to my definition above). Regardless of the fact that I’ll do a deeper clean come Thursday evening, including all the junk I really hate: toilet bowls, scrubbing kitchen sink, dusting and egads: mopping….okay: just kidding on the mopping. Spot removing is more accurate.

At approximately 7pm I decide I need to unload the dishwasher, iron my clothes, change the sheets etc.

And this brings me to my questions:

Why is that Plasticware never seems to dry in the dishwasher? And what makes it magically dry as long as it is stacked upside down (same position as it was in the dishwasher) on my cabinet, draining on t-towels. What gives? On the other hand, maybe that is why it is called a ‘dishwasher’ not a ‘dish dryer’.

Re: the Ironing.
I wear a lot of linen in the summer months, like 95% of the time. Why do I waste my time ironing said linen? So the dashboard in my car knows that I put some effort into my appearance? Because by the time I finish my commute to work (a mere 15 minutes away) it will look worse than it did when I pulled it from the dryer.

And changing the sheets?

I have two cats that live with me permanently. However, they are so wrapped up with each other and in ignoring me that you’d think I was alone in the house. Until I decide to change the sheets. Then Jameson (whose elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top) decides there is no place he’d rather be than in the middle of the bed while I’m trying to put clean sheets on.

Mr. J and I have actually had conversations re: Jameson’s being touched.

Mr. J: “He’s just a kitten.”

L: “No. He’s not. He was over a year old when we got him. He is now over two years old. He is not a kitten.”

Mr. J: “Well, you know, he is developmentally challenged because of the way he was raised.”

L: “Are we really using our phone minutes AND having a ‘serious’ discussion about a cat being mentally challenged???”

Alas, he is challenged (Jameson, I mean.) That cat is more whack than any animal I’ve ever met. He acts more like a puppy ….a very fat puppy…than a cat.

But I digress. Back to the housework: when you do your housework? What motivates you to clean the house when it’s just you there? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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The Well Meaning Questions

Friday, August 21st, 2009

Actually, they aren’t questions. They are statements phrased with just the hint of a question mark and a huge dose of sympathetic disbelief:
“I don’t know how you do it.”
“It must be hard.”
“That would be so lonely.”

Well truthfully, it isn’t what I signed up for. I mean, do you suppose that when I stood before a judge (because we didn’t have a church wedding) and I said, “I do” that I ever imagined I’d be living alone, sleeping single in my double bed (it’s really a queen, but it ruins the lyric) yet still married?

Uh. No need to wait for the Jeopardy music to count down: the answer is no. This was not my lifelong dream.

But if you think I’m going to stand around the water cooler and cry into my coffee about the path my hubby and I have chosen you’re very much mistaken.

Instead I’m going to blog about it. Why just share it with 25 of your closest office buddies when you can spread it all over the world in a heartbeat?

Now that we’ve established that I didn’t jump into the Commuter Couple thing super willingly, allow me to say that I’ve lived through worse things….but those are other stories for other times.

Obviously a commuter marriage or a long distance relationship isn’t for everyone. On the other hand I have a handful of friends who at one time or another were involved in LDRs. Some successfully. Others, not so much.

Over the next few weeks and months I hope to have some of my friends do some guest posts about their experience with being in a commuter relationship. I’m only one person. My story will be uniquely mine and Mr. J’s. Actually it is probably uniquely mine. I’m pretty sure Mr. J has a thing or two to say from his perspective of our journey.

Some of you I’ve already tapped (and you know who you are). Others I’m making the call to now: we’d love to hear your story. Pull up a chair, grab a cuppa, and tell us.

We’re all ears. The one thing I’m personally dying to hear is how you handled the “well meaning question.” With grace? Grinding teeth? A vodka tonic? Do tell.

Comments are love people!

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Posted in Coping Tips, LJ's Story |

Nothing Says I Love You Like…..

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Two Fridays ago I walked into my house and found a handsome man grinding up Caribou Obsidian Coffee beans.

And thank God he did. I was almost out of ground coffee and I don’t like dealing with the grinder. It’s messy. (Of course it was Mr. J. Though frankly, I’d be hard pressed to be upset at anyone who is in my home grinding up my favorite coffee beans.)

I have often said I need a nanny. Let’s be clear: the nanny is for me. I don’t have any children. Wouldn’t it be divine to have someone make your coffee, iron your clothes, fix your nutritionally balanced and highly delicious dinner and brush your cats for you?

Hmmm…maybe I need a stay-at-home wife.

The first 90 days after Mr. J relocated I stopped and bought coffee every morning because I’d never brewed coffee in my life. (Prior husband was British so I can brew a mean cup of tea. However, obviously it was not mean enough as he left me.)

I considered knowing how to brew coffee akin to knowing how to deal with the copier at work being out of toner: the less you knew the better. In this case knowledge is not power; it is culpability.

Nevertheless, when I began adding up the cost of my morning coffee I realized that while I might be making Caribou Coffee very, very happy, my bank account was less so.

I am proud to say that I can now make a fantastic cup of coffee (provided someone grinds my beans when he is home every two weeks) but I still disavow all knowledge of the multi functional photocopier/printer/scanner at work.

My point is this: sometimes it is the little things that make all the difference. Those extra bits of kindness that say “I love you” every evening when I’m filling up the coffee maker for my AM java.

With every whiff of bittersweet chocolate coffee I feel like Mr. J is nearby, even when hundreds of miles away.

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Posted in Coping Tips, LJ's Story |

QVC: It’s a Guy Thing? Really?

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

I’ll wager I’m not the first person in a long distance relationship to be kept company by the hosts on QVC. Having said that, I’m going to take a swipe at them for their programming this Saturday past.

First of all, who thought that 17 hours of programming aimed at men was a good idea? I’m pretty sure that 90+% of their viewers are women. And I’m checking my calendar and it’s not looking like Father’s Day or even one of the many December holidays are on the near horizon. So what gives?

I’ll wager my 2-lb bottle of Philosophy firming lotion in the ever popular scent “Amazing Grace” that their sales tanked during those 17 hours of pandering to men. Every time I turned off my DVD set of choice for the day they were pushing a ginormous flat screen TV. In this economy? Uh. Everyone who wanted one (or could afford one) already bought one. I’d really love to see their sales figures from the weekend. Like a rock they fell, I tell you.

Why, might you ask, am I permanently turned into QVC? Because I can’t stand the hosts on HSN….ba, dum, dum.

Seriously, the reason is that when Mr. J moved across states lines, I took out the cable.

My drug of choice is the Internet. I saw no reason to pay for 200 channels I’d never watch.

Unfortunately that left me with six channels and public broadcasting. Which is to say: essentially six channels.

Since I’m not a big TV fan, I never got into any of the shows that most people watch, i.e. all the cop shows, CSI, NCIS, etc. (Though I regret not being able to watch The Closer. I really liked that show) that are on the big three networks: ABC, CBS, and NBC.

And no, I do not watch Reality TV. Ever. Period. Unless under the influence or really, really depressed. Then you might catch me watching “Dancing with the Stars”. Okay, Okay, I confess: I am such a sucker for “Dancing with the Stars.” Sue me.

The other three channels I get are: CNN, TBS, and QVC.

Unless I’m staring at Anderson Cooper or Wolf Blitzer, I have no time for CNN.

I don’t mind TBS but the problem with that station is that they show the same movie over and over. I can only take “Wedding Crashers” so many times.

That leaves me with QVC. And I think I know a little something about home shopping. There is nothing like getting a small “gift” delivered to your home as a pick me up. So I was pleased as punch when I got up this morning and the aberration known as “It’s a Guy Thing” was over and QVC was showing some pretty Southwestern Jewelry instead.

The Harrison Ford movie on TBS was an even better gift!

It takes so little to make me happy.

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Those First Few (Horrible) Days

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

The first days and weeks after Mr. J moved away were the hardest. It reminded me of my divorce. Every morning I’d wake up and the pain would wash over me anew. Going to bed alone was difficult.

The first thing I did was buy timers for lights in our house. That way I didn’t wake up or walk into a house that was completely dark. That helped in some small way.

The second thing I did (or rather someone did for me) was get new sheets for my bed. Over the years I’ve been told that women are ready to move on from a relationship when they go purchase new sheets. I was grateful to receive the sheets, not because I was ditching my hubby, but because it was, symbolically a new phase in my life.

What can you do to make it easier on yourself? Pick up cheap timers? Buy a new set of sheets – take it from me: splurge! You’re worth it. Do whatever it takes to be kind to yourself in those first few days of separation. And do everything you can to ease the transition for both parties.

Regardless of how the decision to be in separate geographic locations came to be, I can assure you that you both are hurting.

Change can be difficult. Do what you can to ease that burden: for both of you.

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Trust. Define Trust.

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

At the end of my last post I cavalierly said, “If you can’t trust, you’ve got nothing.”

What does that mean exactly? Does that mean that I never, ever, ever think for a moment that my hubby would cheat?

The good news is that according to Mark J. Penn,author of Microtrends, quoting the Center for the Study of Long Distance Relationships (LDRs), commuters are no more likely to:
• Break up
• Be less satisfied
• (the big one) Stray

Good to know.

The best thing to do to allay your fears? Talk about it. My hubby and I had a discussion before he moved. We both stated that we would not cheat. We talked about what was acceptable or not to each of us.

We discussed whether it was suitable to go to lunch, dinner a movie etc. with someone of the opposite sex. We talked through the dangers of emotional affairs, again discussing what was and was not acceptable to us.

It was reassuring to actually hear the words spoken, “I will not cheat on you: not physically or emotionally. I love you. And only you.” And then to repeat those vows in kind.

Only you can define trust. Only you know what your commitment was to your partner and his/hers to you when you began this journey of living in a commuter relationship.

As always, it is a challenging road, and this particularly thorny issue is one that requires a lot of trust and a lot of faith.

Safe travels.

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Posted in Coping Tips |