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Sunrise in Delray Beach

Sunrise in Delray Beach

You can go home again. And that’s what I’m doing this week. Sixteen years after moving to Florida, I’m moving back to Massachusetts.

It isn’t precisely the same home I left all those years ago—I’m returning by myself and to a different town—but it’s home nonetheless. I was born there (Springfield), went to college there (Boston—Go, Huskies!), got my first real job there (Newton), got married there (Weston), and gave birth to my beautiful daughter there (Newton).

I look forward to going home and the new adventures that await me and Dick (that nice fella I’ve been going with for the past few years), but I’m going to miss a lot of Florida-only things.

Despite all its craziness—flesh-eating zombies high on bath crystals, machete-wielding psychos, and escaped wild animals (lions, monkeys, cobras are just a few things that come to mind) and its ridiculous politics (don’t get me started)—Florida has a plethora of amazing things.

Combine those with the amazing people I’ve come to know, and I have had some of the best experiences. I may have come to Florida dragging my feet and complaining the entire first year, but I am glad I stuck around to enjoy all of those wonderful things.

So, with tears in my eyes (and often running down my cheeks), I thought I’d share some of my favorite things (and memories) about my living in South Florida: Read the rest of this entry »

When I worked at TechTarget, often at Thanksgiving I would do a top 10 list of things my readers could be thankful for. The first was for the IBM AS/400-iSeries-System i crowd. Fiercely loyal people, iSeries users love their midrange server and hate anything that competes with it, including Microsoft. That first year, the number one thing they could be thankful for — there’s no Bill Gates.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I thought I’d do my own top 10 list of things to be thankful for. What am I, a 42-year-old, recently re-employed woman with a pre-teen daughter and a failed marriage, thankful for? Let’s take a look:

10. That I look younger than my age — Thank you, Dad, for the fact that I have no gray hair and few wrinkles, save for those

Thanksgiving Chapel in Dallas

laugh lines that are starting to rear their ugly heads, and thank you, Mom, for my thinness. But as you can see from numbers 9 and 8, I believe my natural features need a little help.

9. My colorist & hair stylist — Thank you, Tawna, for the magical work you do coloring my hair, transforming my natural drab brown into golden blonde, and thank you, Harris, for knowing just how to cut my hair. Until I went away this past summer I had no idea how great you are. I went to two different colorists and stylists in Boston, and none did what you so ably do to make me look fabulous.

8. My trainer — I work out on my own, but without Josh to push me to the limit and figuratively kick my butt each week, I would not be in as good shape.

7. JetBlue — It might seem odd to have this company in my list, but with this airline I can easily and usually cheaply get back north to see my family, friends and co-workers. Plus, who wouldn’t love the free snacks, TV, roomy seats, crew, and customer service? And they fly direct from West Palm Beach, Fla., to Boston. Read the rest of this entry »

When you think about lies and people being untruthful, you might picture mean manipulative people — like the stereotypical sales person trying to get you to buy something, the guy you meet in a bar with his 101 pick-up lines, or politicians saying what people want to hear in order to get elected. But in reality, a lot of good people who generally live honest lives tell lies — myself included. They tell them not because they’re looking to gain from a situation, but because they want to others to feel good or to feel better about a situation.

Sometimes it's OK to lie (Photo by Leo Reynolds)

Sometimes it's OK to lie (Photo by Leo Reynolds)

Think about it: Humans created the idea of heaven to ease the fear of dying. Parents tell their children about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny to make Christmas and Easter more fun. Husbands and boyfriends tell the women in their lives their butts don’t look fat in those jeans. Women smile and say thank you, when their boyfriends or husbands buy them a slinky negligee for their birthday when what they really wanted was a pair of comfy sweatpants.

I am not always able to tell those white lies. If I don’t like a gift, it shows on my face. If someone asks me if they look good in an outfit, and they don’t look good, I tell them so. Ask me my opinion on a situation, and I’ll tell you exactly how I feel. You might think it’s good to be so honest, but my actions have hurt people’s feelings. When dinner is made for me as a surprise, I should say thank you and eat it — or some of it — regardless. I should not throw a fit like I did with the infamous Sloppy Joe supper made by my boyfriend years ago.

As a parent, however, lying is part of the game. “Mom, can I have some candy?” “Let me think about it.” “Mom, can we go to the mall?” “Maybe.” “Mom, can I go to Horror Nights with Amanda?” “We’ll see.”

The true answer to all of those questions was “No.” Why didn’t I just say no? Because I didn’t want the battle. While our kids are young, we can get away with those responses. Soon, however, they figure it out — “No, maybe! Maybe means no! Why caaaaaan’t I!” Read the rest of this entry »

On June 5 I began my journey to Boston to start a new job and possibly new life. I’ve named my journey “Breaking Boundaries,” as I am physically breaking boundaries by crossing state boundaries and I am breaking figurative boundaries — attempting to break out of my way of thinking and doing things. More than anything, it’s a journey to discover what I really want to do and what gives me joy. It’s a difficult journey, but I need to do it. I need to experience it — even if it reduces me to tears every other day.

My journey -- Breaking Boundaries (Photo by Rafael Gomes)

My journey -- Breaking Boundaries (Photo by Rafael Gomes)

My life in Florida as it was, was holding me back. I was confined to a certain role that was too small for me, too restricting. During the past six months I thought long and hard about how to change it. I decided to go back to the place that has always made me feel happy — Boston. I created a plan and fulfilled it — got a full-time job and have relocated there. Don’t ever let it be said that I can’t do what I say I’m going to do. But now that I’m here in this life, I’m questioning it. Actually, I started questioning the decision when I started packing, and several times during the drive north considered turning back, but I am going ahead with it to learn if my fears and doubts are true or if happiness truly resides here.

As I start my second week of work, I am feeling a slightly better about the change. However, when I stop and think about everything that’s going on, I feel fear deep in my stomach like the bottom is falling away bit by bit, I’m on edge, and I’m often on the verge of tears.

I question whether a full-time job that requires me to be in an office for nine hours a day is right for me. I question whether I can work such a job and care for my daughter if she lives here with me. I fear that having such a job means losing quality of life, as I have little to no time for social activity. I fear getting trapped in a job and losing my creative outlets. I wonder if my return to the Boston area is an attempt to relive my previous life here. Read the rest of this entry »

From the time we enter our elementary school years until we enter our senior citizen years, we are always trying to fit in. Where do we belong? With what group of people do we share interests? Where should I live? And if you’re a pre-teen or teen, how do I get into the “popular” group?

My 12-year-old daughter is dealing with that last struggle right now. She attends a wonderful high-tech middle school in Boca Raton, Fla., a wealthy community. Most of the students who attend that school, however, have parents who give them anything they want. Every day my daughter deals with the fact that she doesn’t own an iPhone or some type of smart phone and she doesn’t wear Abercrombie clothes. She also doesn’t look like the “popular” girls. She doesn’t have straight-straight hair, she has acne, and she has started getting a little figure. All of that, she says, makes her different — puts her outside of the “popular” girls group. Oh, the tragedy of being different!

Boston -- Where I fit in (c) FreeFoto.com

Boston -- Where I fit in (Photo supplied by FreeFoto.com)

I know exactly how she feels. I tell her that things will get better — that middle school is, and has always been, difficult for girls. I tell her to not try to be friends with everyone but find close friends and stick with them. They’re the ones who matter most, not the bitchy Boca snobs who look down at you because you have curly hair. I tell her to do activities that she loves and that she’ll make friends with kids in the same clubs and groups.

What I don’t tell her is that the struggle to fit in will continue.

I can think of just a couple times in my life where it wasn’t so hard. Ironically, one of them was during middle school. Somehow, I was in the “popular” group. I don’t know how it happened because we were not wealthy, I wore mostly second-hand clothes, I was not considered pretty, my family situation was different than “normal” (my mother was divorced and had recently announced that she was gay), and I was the new kid. We had moved to a small city in Vermont from Springfield, Mass. By middle school girl standards, I should have been an outcast. But they accepted me.

The real struggle to fit in started in eighth grade when my mother moved us to a tiny nearby town — Roxbury, Vt. I had to leave my “girls” behind and start all over again — new house, new school, new people to try to befriend. On top of that, now I was living in the country! That’s no place for a city mouse like me. Read the rest of this entry »

It is time. It is time for me to give up on what my life has been and what I thought it would be. I’m a 41-year-old mother of one who is in the middle of divorcing her husband of 12 years and was recently laid off from her employer of nearly nine years. This is not how my life was supposed to be.

Ready or not, my life is in the midst of huge changes.

The decision to divorce
About a year ago I decided that I couldn’t continue in a marriage that gave me little to no happiness. And it isn’t because he’s a bad guy. In fact, he’s a really nice guy — everybody thinks so — which makes it even harder. We just don’t see things the same way, and I’m tired of making concessions. I’m tired of giving in to him and his desires at the cost of losing mine.

What’s strange is that we think the same about many things — politics, parental issues, music, movies, etc. But when it came down to significant life issues, he wouldn’t budge. I wanted more than one child; he said no. For years I said I wanted to move back to New England; he said no. I wanted him to be my partner in the marriage and help make decisions; he passive-aggressively said no by waiting for me to tell him what to do.

Time to stop worrying about change

Time to stop worrying about change

I became increasingly unhappy, and he started telling me that I’m difficult and crazy for not liking my/our life. He doesn’t acknowledge my feelings, my way of thinking, or my desires. But he “put up with me” and says no one else will be able to.

I probably shouldn’t have married him. I should have carefully looked at all of his qualities and then made a decision. But I was young (22), impressed by his being a musician and his looks, fell in love, and rushed in. And once in, I told myself that was that. I’m a child of divorce, and years ago I promised myself I would never get a divorce, especially if I had children. But now I have to break that promise. Staying in this unhappy marriage isn’t good for anyone. And I’ve discovered that there are people who acknowledge my feelings and accept me and all my quirks — they like and even love me and don’t just “put up with me”.

Career crisis
Complicating my life further, on Dec. 11, 2008, I was laid off from my job as editor in chief of a website owned by an IT media company. I had given my blood, sweat, and tears to that company for almost nine years. I helped build that company and went along with all the changes a company goes through, bending like the branch of a willow tree whenever the managers decided to switch things up. I volunteered for projects, I took on additional responsibilities when asked by my managers, I sacrificed some of my ideals in order to appease people because I believed it would help the team, I created and grew websites that brought in thousands of ad dollars. And I was rewarded by being let go. I, and 76 others, was eliminated. Read the rest of this entry »