Monday, May 8, 2017

Tasting The Dream

Ever have a dream you wanted so bad you could literally taste it?

Taste it like freshly rinsed and patted dry rounded on a leaf perfectly dotted and fragrant ripe meaty strawberries straight off the Florida farm {if you have never had these you are soooo missing out...}.  Or like a Kir Royale.  Some dream of fruit, others the fruits of champagne...

You saw the dream.  You tasted the dream.  

You knew whatever your dream was - it was if God or the Universe or whatever you believe so deeply planted it within you, that unless it was watered and blessed to grow at some point in your life...  Well you might shrivel up, wither, and die a little.

When one has a dream of this magnitude {as Holiday and I did with our book} 
and then it comes true...  
Well sometimes although your dream was so vividly clear, 
you just can't ever know or see with as much clarity 
what your ACTUAL outcome will be

Besides the fact that your dream actually came true,
Most times you don't know what that, well, actually means in the end.
More specifically not only what it will mean to you, but will mean to others as well.

And I think it's safe to say THIS HAS HAPPENED TO ALL OF US.

LIKE IF Your dream is to be Senior Manager, but once your dream came true it came with added responsibilities and well feelings of both endless flight and outright fright you just couldn't have predicted.

With this comes the really good days you feel like you can justifiably {safely perhaps?!?} declare "My dream came true!!!  Woo hoo!!!"  Days for example that it feels good to be a voice on behalf of others who need your help or humor or forthrightness or talent or whatever you have they need to share if only a moment with you {it might actually make you forget all of the struggle}.

And I'm here to remind you there will be really rough days.  Days you feel like a hand is permanently pinning you down despite all the work, and time/energy, and best efforts, and open hearted love and care you have poured into making the divine seed planted within you grow.  They'll question your purpose and question you, which in-turn leads you to question yourself a little {sometimes a lot}.  

But you get back up, weak in the knees and with a cracked rib or two {but tape in hand}, and you get ready to fight the good fight again.   
Kir Royale in the other hand with fresh Florida strawberry floating {obviously...}. 
And again.  

Because we all know dreams come at a high price 
and you didn't just expect to be handed anything, patted on the back, 
and told "WELL DONE!" while they golf clap for you...  Did you?

Maybe your dream is writing a book, or having a child, or landing the corner office of the 17th floor, or going back to school, or getting in the shape of your life, or finding love again after the despair of divorce....

And no matter what your dream is, I'm hear to tell you the obvious - IT IS POSSIBLE TO ACHIEVE IT - IF YOU PUT IN THE WORK AND STAY ALIGNED WITH THE RIGHT REASONS...  Yes I said RIGHT reasons there.

Fear not though, I'm here to shed a little light Now That The Dust Of Media Tour Frenzy Has Settled {soon copywriting that}.  I'm willing to share some tidbits I've accumulated over the past 3 months on said media tour.  Tidbits I wished somebody would have told me before climbing the goal ladder got realllll.  {Besides advice like just because you are in a different town every week doesn't mean you are technically on vacation and allowed to eat dessert at every meal... My pants would have appreciated that advice...}

Advice not just about the dream of our particular book, 


When you are fighting for your dream, you will be dependent on others as well as yourself.  Especially because your dream is not just for you.  

There will be lovely people who help your dream catch flight along the way.  When you have a strong vision lit by love and compassion, the right gardeners will be put in your life to help your seeds grow.  It's important to show gratitude and thanks to these people and help water them some in return, these people are invaluable to not only you, but the wonderful world we live in.   Sincere and genuine gratitude, not just in the "Oh my gosh let's connect on Instagram and I'll soooo promote you too!" kind of way.  In the "This is how much your kindness has meant to me, and what can I genuinely do to help your dream, job, life grow a little taller towards where the sun shines brightly."  And most of these gardners are disguised in the every day people and every day moments kind of way, not the grandiose pinch me kind of moments.  That is KEY...  

There will also be some jerks along the way.  Not that they are purposely trying to be a jerk to you, or your dream, or your vision...  They won't care or try to understand the way you do, and you can't expect them too.  For some people it's easier to just not care what effect their words and actions and energy have on others {akin to certain of my divorce memories}.  So don't take it personally, and don't let it ruin, or stop the climb.  Because luckily these people are mostly few and far between {and will someday be long forgotten}.

AND...  Last but not least...  Once you can officially shout from the hilltop
the view will be different than anything you could have ever imagined.
And this might be just fine, or not quite right, or better than best.  
Because again, your dream might be there to serve others.  

And your voice might echo so loud it will start an avalanche {which can be good or bad - either way there will be lost sheep guaranteed}.   

You might belt it out like perfectly pitched Maria in The Sound of Music and the hills will indeed be alive with the sound of music.

Or you might gasp it out in a half-breath curled into a ball on the barren earth like after the 3 hour Tough Mudder you just barely endured {covered in mud in crevices you didn't even know existed on your body} shaking from dehydration.   

Either way you will have done it.  You achieved the dream.

And if you only remember one thing remember this...  You don't walk away un-changed. 


I can promise you you'll remember the people who helped.
Whether your seed of a dream was to just simply survive or thrive by growing a little 
or turning into the biggest damn sunflower Kansas has ever seen...

You will walk away wanting more, or possibly less, 
or possibly more but in a less kind of way do you? 
{So channeled Yoda there...}

You just won't know until you get there.
What we do know?  We soooo know you'll get there...

xo, Valerie {of Valerie and Holiday - The Ex-Wives}

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

happy {would be} anniversary

12 years ago today I said, “I do” to a man in the middle of an ice storm. 

It was a day late.

Our original wedding date was set for January 29th, but thanks to an ice storm the entire state of Georgia was frozen…no one was going anywhere.

Our wedding was cancelled. 
I cried. A lot.

We were married the next day.

Now, 12 years later, I reflect on this major life event and can’t help but laugh. I mean really, rrrrreeeaaallly laugh. It was the train wreck of all train wrecks. I was Bridezilla at her finest, in complete psycho mode without an ice-free sidewalk to stand on. My “dream wedding” was hardly the fairytale I had been planning for. But at the end of the day we were married, and that was all that mattered…right?

This day used to make me sad.  January 30th had been a day when I would take a stroll down memory lane with a box of Kleenex (and carbs…). One year I even landed my minivan in a ditch (thank you very much ice storm of 2014). You can read my blog post from that night here.

But guess what? The days of sappy nostalgia on January 30th are over. Will I always remember this day with fond memories? Absolutely. I will never regret marrying him because the two beautiful children we have together were worth every ounce of heartache. But the crying is over.

In preparing to share this tonight I’ve been thinking… how can I relate this story to our readers? Why in the world would you care about my wedding story (or my divorce for that matter?) 

In an effort to connect the dots, and in honor of what would have been 12 years, I share with you…

12 Years, 12 Lessons:
  1. The state of Georgia should ban weddings on January 29th or 30th (unless you're going for a Frozen theme with Elsa, Anna and Olaf)
  2. Just because you got divorced doesn't mean your marriage was a mistake.
  3. Ex-wives have a lot more in common than you think.
  4. It's okay to look at old wedding pictures...and cry. (I saved ours because I wanted our children to have memories of their parents together).
  5. One should never attempt to drive a minivan on icy roads during an ice storm. *side note: if you are a newly single mama please do not buy a minivan unless you absolutely have to...seriously. Don't believe me? Check this out.
  6. I should have been nicer to my stepmother.
  7. The pain you might be feeling now is real...but it won't last forever.
  8. Co-parenting with you ex is the most important piece of the parenting puzzle. Your kids didn't ask for a divorce.
  9. Boyfriends come and go but girlfriends are forever (7th grade advice from my mom).
  10. Even on your worst day there is someone out there who's got it worse. Be grateful.
  11. To live your dream life you must write your own fairy tale.
  12. Some of life's greatest blessings come from your greatest heartaches.
Life has a funny way of coming full circle. God’s blessings are hidden in the brokenness.

If I hadn’t gotten married I would have never gotten divorced…and without this divorce I would have never met Valerie…and without Valerie our book, The Ex-Wives’ Guide to Divorce, wouldn’t exist.

Was this the fairy tale I dreamed of on January 30, 2005? Absolutely not.

But I wouldn’t change a thing...well, maybe the minivan J

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Apology I Never Received

This past Christmas and New Years I did something strange.  So strange that if you told me 5 years ago {while in the throngs of a some-what-who-am-I-kidding-very-much nasty divorce} what I would be doing for Christmas in 2016, I probably would have put a curse on you.  Okay not a really mean curse like one that would make you lose all your hair or die in an accident, but more like a curse of having to see what it felt like to live a day of my life during my divorce.  That would be curse enough for anyone.

So what exactly did I do this past Christmas that was so strange?

I flew to England with my mother and step-father to have Christmas with my ex-mother-in-law, my ex-husband, and my son.   
As in all of us together.  
At the same time.  
As in all of us together.  
In the same flat.  
As in all of us together...
As in I couldn't make that up even if I wanted to.

Why did I possibly agree to doing something as bananas and foreign concept to most of us that are divorced or separated as this?  Even fellow ex-wife Holiday wondered!

Because I love my son.
Because I love my previous mother-in-law who is getting on in age and can't travel as much.
Because I love my mother and step-father who "Just can't imagine a Christmas without Liam."
{Notice my mom didn't mention me in there just my son...}
Because my Ex had visitation rights the first week of winter break and I only had visitation rights for 4 hours on Christmas day per our separation agreement and he very nicely asked me six months in advance if they could spend it with my son's Grandmother there.
And, because part of that journey of learning to love oneself after the bottom falls out includes realizing sometimes you have to accept an apology you never received {or ever will} in order to move yourself forward. 

Key words being ACCEPT and YOURSELF.

Accepting and forgiving are entirely different things, at least to me.  One can forgive another, but still not accept what has happened.  Their actions and thoughts still tend to wander down the "what if this hadn't happened or that person wouldn't have done that" isle.  And trust me, that's one isle you need to push your cart with already overflowing stuff away from as fast as you freaking can.... 

I can say with certainty I had forgiven my Ex a few years back when I was incredibly ill with a tumor.  The one upside of when you think you're gonna die, is you tend to let go of all of the b.s.{divorce fell in this category for me}.  You have such a crystal clear vision of what life is about.  

And I'm here to report life is about love, helping others, 
and letting go of all the bad you think has been done to you 
because at the end of the day, 
the bad is probably what held you back or pushed you forward 
depending on what you did with the "bad".   

Clearly I had not done enough with the "bad" and it was still holding a part of me back.  

So no matter who you are waiting for your apology you never got from
your mother
your father
your sibling
your ex-{fill in the blank}
your neighbor
your boss who you want{ed} to kick in the a$$ really really hard
Sometimes you just need to accept the apology you are never going to get,
and make your life a hell of a lot easier.

The apology I felt I deserved and wanted so badly never came.  Not even when my Ex had the flu one time - you know how crazy crap comes flying out of your mouth when you are running a fever and puking all the time and you are wayyyyy nicer and looser with the feelings that you normally would be with your guard up and health protecting you.

So then how does one just accept it and let it go?

Well one day early in 2016 I woke up feeling sicker than sick in a you knew you did it to yourself kind of way.  Like I had eaten an entire wheel of brie {yes - sadly a very real thing for me} or ate a burrito at 10pm and chugged a liter of coke to wash it down {yes - sadly this also is a very real thing for me but not in an I'm allergic kind of way}. But I hadn't eaten brie or a burrito, and I knew I wasn't getting sick.  However I did go to bed with thoughts in my head of just how far a please, thank you, and an I'm sorry goes when co-parenting with your Ex.  Or doesn't go {cue the descending whah whah whah whahhhh sound}.  Basically I had woken up with a hangover of entanglement.

So I did what any right minded individual would do and stared out my window at the beautiful sunrise that seemed to be stuck in between storm clouds and wind whipping by, and screamed "What the hell Universe!!!" I swear it was the creepiest thing but it was like the universe whispered back to me "You're never going to get your sorry, let it goooooo, you're only hurting yourself."   

So I decided right there and then 
I would try to accept the apology I would never get 
to make life a heck of a lot easier... mostly on myself.  

But in trying to accept my never to be spoken apology, I too had to issue a very loud apology.  I was sorry for all the anger, and snarkiness, and dreams I had had of beating heads against sidewalks {okay - maybe not as sorry for that as it was just a dream and damn did it make me feel better at the time} that contributed to a less than perfect marriage and after divorcing had kept me temporarily tangled to the perceived "bad".  I had some owning up to do also - the "bad" I had done that I had not properly apologized for - and not just what I probably owed my Ex but also to myself.  

If it worked for me - and it can work for you too.
Set the intention, yell at the universe, 
have one of your friends apologize and pretend to be that person,
and then just accept it and move forward like the bad a$$ you are.

So now?  Now that I spent a Christmas with my Ex and most of my 2016 listening to my silent apology?  Well my life is a whole lot easier.  And my co-parenting relationship with my Ex is exponentially better.  Like leaps and bounds better.

Oh, and my Christmas and New Years was a wholeeee lot brighter.  It was easy.  It was light.  And not just because wine was involved.  It was magical and joy filled and every other sugar-plum ferry type feeling and word out there, because at the end of the day I spent a lovely Christmas with my son, family, and the feeling that the past was truly in the past.  Right where it belonged.  {And I sure as hell hope it stays there.}
And voila!  The silent apologies were heard loud and clear.  
And there was peace on Earth.
{At least on my little slice of heaven on Earth...}

hear and accept the apology you may never get.
Use whatever your "bad" was to move you forward not hold you back.
Because if I've learned anything, 
an "easier" life does wonders on just about everything.

xo, Valerie {of Holiday and Valerie, The Ex-Wives'} 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

there's no crying in Christmas...said no one ever.

I decorated the tree this year with tears.

Yes, that's right. While the kids were delicately placing their favorite ornaments among the pine needles, singing their hearts out with the Pandora Christmas station, I slipped away to my bedroom to cry.

I might need to rephrase this for the purpose of authenticity...

I wasn't crying. I was sobbing.

The worst part? I really didn't know WHY I was crying. When my sweet husband realized I was falling apart he gave me the deer in headlights look..."What is going on? What is wrong? Why are you so upset?

Bless. His. Heart.
There was nothing he could do.

My heart was flooded with emotion. Childhood memories raced through my head, nostalgic traditions and flashbacks of previous years...disappointments and feelings of sadness...missing my family and wishing we could all be together...they all hit me like a MACK truck. It was like the perfect storm.

But these tears weren't just for me...I had feelings of sadness for our kids. For the pain I know they feel and the tugging on their hearts during this time of year. The frustration of having to spend Christmas Eve/Christmas going back and forth between mom and dad, never getting to just chill at home like the rest of their friends. They didn't ask for divorce. They didn't ask for two separate homes or step parents. Thankfully our children have adapted well (we have 4 combined), but I know it's hard for them. It was hard for me and my parents got divorced when I was 18.

That, girlfriends, is what we call mommy divorce guilt.

It's been over 4 years since my divorce, but the little things still get me sometimes. Like finding an ornament we picked out together, or hearing a song that reminds me of our family...before it was broken. Seeing my daughter's "My First Christmas" ornament and realizing that she's almost 10...and this just might be the last year she believes in Santa.

My "moment" lasted for about an hour. I just had to get it out. I am abundantly blessed. I truly love my life, my husband, our family, and the home we have created together. Truth be told, I am happier now than I have been in a really really reaaaallllly long time. So among the sadness were also some happy tears : )

I share this with you today for 2 few reasons...

  1. I promised myself I would always be authentic and transparent with our readers and our audience...even if that makes me vulnerable.
  2. If my story can help someone feel less alone, less hurt, or give them hope then it's worth it (same reason why Valerie and I wrote The Ex Wives Guide to Divorce).
I want to encourage you, girlfriends, to embrace your tears (whether they are sad ones or happy ones), and remember that this is only a season. Whether you are in the middle of a divorce, facing a divorce, or perhaps a few years out like me, remember you are not alone.

I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas...and cheers to a new year!

Much Love,
Holiday xo

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Carving Up Thanksgiving

As all of us get ready to devour turkey, stuffed with Prozac to avoid family fights {just kidding but a really good suggestion below!}, and clink a glass full of everything we are grateful for this year, I would like to send a special toast to those of us that will be carving a little more than our fine de-feathered feast.

Being divorced or in your "not-so-typical" family situation seems to leave some of us 

anything but thankful for the holidays.  

Remember when you were younger and would fight over who got the chance to pull the wishbone from the turkey? It was sheer agony having to watch it dry out, high above out of reach on the window sill over the kitchen sink, just begging us to pull it, alllllll day longgggg.  Because I grew up in a large family we would draw names who the lucky two would be that could pull {or let the other person pull - that was a pretty good strategy} for glory and bragging rights that you were in fact the "lucky one" for the next 364 glorious calendar days.

Well now image that same tugging, but this time the winner gets their lucky in the form of time with their children or other family members.  The "unlucky" other person is left with being alone or scrambling faster than the turkey probably about to sit on your plate to find an invite somewhere so they're not spending it alone.

Personally, I typically fall in the second category.  The scrambling turkey.  

During my divorce, my Ex and I were careful to carve out a plan for our young son to spend every other holiday alternating between Mommy and Daddy.  The first few years were gut-wrenching and took quite a bit of getting used to.  If I was lucky enough to have my son with me, family seemed to now have the impression because I was no longer a "couple", holidays could be redefined to travel or spend them with their in-laws families.  Minus the Thanksgiving spent by some of my family at my house fresh off my tumor removing surgery where I was truly thankful but in a different kind of way,  my young son and I were pretty much on our own.  On the other hand, if my young son was with my Ex, well then there I was, a scrambling sobbing on the inside turkey, trying to find a friends Thanksgiving to crash.  

Whether holding the fat or skinny side of the wishbone, 

I was losing my thankful for the holidays.

Then about three years into my carved up Thanksgiving came the invite.

The invite to a close friends condo in Florida.  Their family had just suffered the loss of two of their patriarchs and was pretty much on their own as well.  Even though they were a "typical" family of mother, father, young daughter and son - suddenly and sadly their traditional Thanksgiving spent with parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins was gone. 

So they decided to have a thanksgiving full of "adopted" family members to share in their blessings at their little slice of beach heaven.  

There we were... all of us.  Middle aged having lived most of lives having traditions as our pillars,  standing in the rubble of divorces and loss of family.  With the choice to wallow in it or move on and re-build what a thankful and happy holiday meant to us.  

And as I scramble this year like a turkey again, my scramble has changed.  It's a three years in a row scramble to pack my suitcase so I can drive as fast as I can {or the speed limit allows me} to our re-defined tradition.  This year will be an even luckier and thankful year as my son is with me, yes it's a "Mommy" year.  

Will this new tradition last of spending it with friends and new friends who all have found themselves on their own?  I hope so.  Because this new tradition has all of us regaining our thankful.

But if it doesn't... well then I will once again remember the holiday season is about being hopeful and counting our blessings not based on what one "normally" does one day out of the year, 
rather devoted to everybody and everything that keeps you breathing the other 364 days of the year.  

I would be lying if I said I didn't miss the double leafed table overflowing onto a well dressed folding table set up for little ones, at my old traditional Thanksgiving.  The drunk Uncle.  The screaming sibling {oh wait - was that me?}.  Grandparents playing poker into the wee hours as the grandkids all sneek back into Grandmas small kitchen full of large plates of leftovers and half eaten pies for a fourth trip.  But my new tradition, although filled with not as many people {or pies} is filled with just as much love.  And maybe just a quarter of the drama.

After the dust of the rubble of whatever crumbled clears, having the desire and the willingness to re-define what you are most thankful for in the end is the true blessing.  Happy Thanksgiving!

xo, Valerie {of Valerie and Holiday - "The Ex-Wives"}

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Dream Machine

My husband gave me a new alarm clock for my birthday last week. There were several other gifts that I loved, but this one kind of rocked my world.

"Finally you won't have to smash the buttons anymore...AND you'll be able to see what time it is!" He was grinning ear to ear, proud of this gift, knowing this was something I had needed for a long time.

I hesitated.

Yes, my alarm clock had seen better days. Yes, sometimes the buttons called for back up reinforcement (thank you very much Sharpie pen cap). And yes, the digits on the little screen were getting hard for me to read in my old age...but I haven't had the heart to part with it.

I invested in the Sony Dream Machine in the summer of 1997 just before I headed off to college. I used my graduation money because I knew better than to ask my parents for a $100 alarm clock. I chose this one because it had a digital screen AND I could either wake up to the buzzer OR music. Bonus: I didn't have to guess what station it was on because again, it was digital, and I had total control. Score.

The Dream Machine has been next to my bed for 19 years. At times I've joked that this alarm clock is the one thing that's been with me for almost my entire adulthood (if you can count college as adulthood?!) Even my favorite pieces of jewelry haven't stuck around this long.

I think the look on my face gave it away...was I ready to pull the plug on the Dream Machine and replace it with a shinier, newer model? I felt conflicted. It might sound silly, but clearly I have an emotional connection to this alarm clock.

Memories flooded my heart...good ones and bad. The best moments of my life have been witnessed by this alarm clock, along with moments when my heart was breaking into a million pieces. The Dream Machine woke me up on the day my parents got divorced, the day I graduated from college, they day I packed up my life and moved to Georgia, my first day of school as a teacher, my wedding day in 2005, the day I started my own company, the day I become a mother, the day we buried my mother in law, the day I realized I was having a nervous breakdown, the day I knew I had to leave my marriage, my first day as a "single mom", the day I surrendered my life to God again, the day I felt like I could finally breathe again, the day we signed our book deal, the day I met my {now} husband Clay, the day I fell in love again...I could go on.

The Dream Machine has been through 19 years of dreams with me...some have worked out better than others. While I have grown through the tears and the joy, this little black box has stayed the same.

I had a completely different post planned for this week's blog, but for some reason I felt led to share this instead. Is it crazy to feel so connected to something that just plugs into a wall? Are my sentiments random and crazy or is there something in your life you've held on to, solely for the memories it holds?

I pulled the plug on Friday night. A shiny new alarm clock with big digital numbers and fancy buttons now sits next to my bed. I am ready to embrace this next phase of my life, finally letting go of something that I've held on to for so long. I know the next 19 years will be filled with wonderful new memories as I continue to dream.

As for the Dream Machine? I've retired it to my office...because it still works and you never know when you'll need back up :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

To Tear... or Not to Tear...

To Tear... or Not to Tear...
That is the REAL Question

Especially when you are Fall cleaning your storage area / garage.  
With your 8yr old son.  
On one of the most beautiful sunshiny days of Fall break he would "WAYYYYYY rather be doing anything than this Mommy".  
{I did not test him on that, but I should have.}

As many of you know, besides being a writer, I am also an Organizer / Personal Assistant.  So here goes the very unprofessional confession...  I hadn't fully unpacked, sorted, purged, done anything remotely resembling organization with our storage area since I had moved in last year.  I literally just closed my eyes while I typed that so I couldn't see the look on your cyber face.

Everything just sitting there in closed boxes, mysteriously labeled in layers of black sharpie on the top of dented box after weathered cardboard box that had sadly been used one too many times moving in the last five years since my divorce.  None of it really the stuff I needed, I did unpack those boxes {insert golf clap in 1 - 2 - 3}, however the things I didn't need or didn't want inside the house were all shoved into corners around the perimeter of our "fake garage" as I had called the storage area.

Most of them sad little shells of a box that was once neatly labeled "Guest Bathroom" that had sloppily been crossed out with an almost-dry Sharpie.  Another label boldly written half-way over it clearly rushed with forceful handwriting labeled "KITchen" now XX out. And a third time written in upperhand letters, appearing as if the ink was almost willing it to stick this time - "OFFICE".

That's mostly what our "fake garage" contained.  The unwanted and unused of my past married life.

I had grown tired of moving, and clearly unpacking the items I just didn't want to remember.  Sure there were huge reasons why I kept having to move my young son and I from house to house like a lost carrier pigeon.  The Big D, I was incredibly sick, and because the people I was renting from to re-establish myself after Divorce wanted to sell and didn't accept my offer.  

My past on parade.  And I simply did not want to face it all in Kodak's finest color bleed glory, especially because I believed I had moved on and risen above it all.  Big time.  In big band fashion where the cymbal had already come crashing down.

But even in moving on and having "dealt" with it - there are certain parts I believe you should take all the time you need to let it sit in disarray although packaged nicely, because you just don't care to have it under "control"...

Oh say something like all my memories from the walls and shelves of my marital house, I brought my baby home to, sitting in dusty crumpled U-Haul triple taped boxes.
The home I
Never.  Ever.  Wanted 
to leave.

Besides the memories I wasn't sure I was ready to look at, were box upon sagging box of the DIVORCE stuff that one is advised to and has to keep.  Because hello!!!  It might bring bad energy if it is actually kept inside our homes filed away neatly, and there was no way I was riskin' that!!!.  
- Filing papers.  {Yuck}
- Versions upon versions of separation agreements.  {A few had scribbles of choice words that still make me giggle}
- Binders I had made for logs and proof.  {Part of the inspiration for The Ex-Wives Guide To Divorce!}
- All the old financial paperwork I killed a tree or six, gathering to copy to turn in to my attorney to determine my financial fate.  {Okay... so I killed a forest, but it was a small one and I promise to replant}
Now all that was easy to eyeball and sort through and re-organize now.  Because all of these items, if needed to ever dredge up again, where waiting for me tabbed, sorted, and ready to wow even Martha Stewart.  Those were the items that elicited NO emotion from me.

However the box with photo safe paper gently cradling the old carefully chosen 8x10 matte snapshots of our no-longer family....  Well that I hadn't been ready to look at, UNTIL NOW, five years later, as I knew a geyser of emotions would bubble from deep within.  All of it, laying unstirred in the only box that had NOT been re-packed and re-labeled or opened during all the moves.  The box that had been used only once, covered on each side with thin sharpie letters in dark black, saying "Photos - NOT to Open".

The photos I distinctly remember asking myself when packing the first time...  To Tear, or Not to Tear.

When packing that small sized box, I knew I was at that point there was just no going back.  I tried, more than most ANYBODY I know would have tried to save our marriage with the circumstances I was dealing with.  Gut wrenching, keep you awake all night that no amount of reallllyyyy expensive eye cream can fix.  I tried.  Both the saving of the marriage and the pricey eye cream.  Neither worked.  {Or gave me my money back now that I think about it?!?}

So why didn't I tear or cut or both those photos originally?  Well because my Father had walked away from our family when I was 10 during my parents divorce and I just didn't or wouldn't imagine a world for my son without both parents just "in it."  Even when I was in the thick of the divorce.  SO I PUT DOWN THE SCISSORS, and packed this box gingerly.  Not knowing what life would hold for my son {or myself really!}, but knowing it would not be a life with torn pictures of his past in it.  

Because for something to have a future it has to have a starting point, 
and although it was not the most ideal, 
it was in fact my son's starting point.

All these shiny happy family photos staring me down, thanking me I didn't tear them up, so my son could look back some day.  TODAY in-fact.  Knowing that despite it all - he was a product of a type of love and had a family that was worth framing at some point.   The marriage photos?  Well I saved a few for my son {also in this time-capsule of happy family charade} and admittedly burned a few.  But that was therapeutic.  Very very very therapeutic.  Probably made me a better Mommy.  Definitely made me a better Mommy.

As I went to close the box, my son walked in after spending 20 minutes getting me more water {stall tacticts at it's finest} and asked me what I was looking at.  I held up this old photo and told him bluntly "Old pictures of our family."  He walked faster than I had seen him move all day since the start of the cleaning, and grabbed the top photo eyes wide open, mouth cocked to the left. 

This photo of us on the beach as the Shepherd Family in Australia right before the "crash".  My son just shy of 2 years old.  Staring up at the heavens above, as if they were pouring all the light and love into his little body to prepare him for what he was about to face.

My son, still in awe that his convictions deep down inside he did once have a traditional family confirmed, said "Mommy - can I put some of these in my room or give them to my baby some day?".  The more sensible side of me wanted to say well that will be a long time because you're not dating until you're 30, but the more sentimental side of me kept my eyes down but replied "Of course my Little Bee." 

He then asked me if I remembered all of these pictures and did I know they were "lost" in here?  And I did the one thing I hate to do to my son... I lied.  Well except when I eat his Halloween candy - lying is totally allowed then.

I lied for the same reason I did not just tear up the pictures in the first place.  Because telling the truth or destroying pictures wouldn't be exactly helping honor those old memories and his starting point.  And if there is one thing I do want to do for my son, well it's honor those memories that brought him in and up in a world he felt {and still feels} nothing but love.

So although we urge you when going through the "Big D" {Divorce} to get your head quickly out of the sand and help build your own dream sand castle sans Prince Charming, it's okay by me if you have a memory thing or two boxed up and locked until you're ready to face it.  

We ALL have a box or two that we need to save until we're ready.

Because most times we find buried treasure in the sand {or "fake garage"} and although you might not want or need it after all in your life, at the end of the day it is still treasure to someone.

Love, Valerie {and Holiday}