Blog Archives

Wiping the Gunk Away: A 10 year reflection of being single

Have you ever felt the need to wipe away the energies of the day? I’ve felt it a lot lately. And sometimes, like today, it is a reason for me to take a shower at 3am and eventually go back to sleep instead of waiting and starting my day.

What do I mean by “energies of the day?” The thoughts that won’t go away. The feelings from listening to others or hearing the news or reading the reactions to any of the above. I want to clear the brain and reset (and actually sleep). Today, I find the need to write first.

One of my reflections lately has been about my birthday. The last post  came before my birthday. Now that the odometer has officially flipped over, I am almost two weeks into a new decade. A friend ahead of me in the same year reassured me that it would be ok and there wouldn’t be zombies after me, or anything like that.

The other reason I have thought a lot about this birthday is because as an adult it has always been my effort to celebrate, especially for decade birthdays. Ten years ago I was still married. My (ex) husband had a decade birthday first and made a fuss about celebrating. When my turn came around – nothing. Our anniversary happened to be in October a couple of weeks later. My ex not only had to work, he didn’t offer to make plans over a different weekend, which is what we previously had done. The marriage, at least from my point of view, was rocky for many reasons. After the anniversary discussion I decided that I was finished. Instead of celebrating a relationship, I went apartment hunting, happy, at least, that I’d be returning to Kalamazoo. By the end of October I had moved (with the cat) and (re)started single life.

I moved several times since first returning to Kalamazoo. Some moves I chose to do while others I had to. For example, when the landlady died and the family wanted to make sure the house could be included as part of the estate. I had time, as long as I hurried up.

Moving this year is not something I expected. I actually have enjoyed living in a studio and made it feel cozy. I guess it had been more cramped than I realized, though. When the opportunity to move upstairs came along, I jumped. I could’ve moved to a bigger studio, too. I was only interested in the upstairs apartment. So for the last two weeks of September, I figured out where things generally would go and moved (with some help) upstairs to an apartment with three or four times the space. It seemed “right sized” – not as big as when I rented entire houses, and still bigger than the studio.

What I have noticed is that there is a different feeling when you have the space to move around. I will still be downsizing things. I believe my brain is also trying to download things. Maybe things that I didn’t completely have the room to put it in. Or the words to express. Or lost when in places too big. So, here I am at 4 in the morning, reflecting. I feel cleaner from writing as much as from showering. Just like that first move to the single life, this feels like a transition, too. Like there is more happening than the fact of organizing from a move. It’s probably been happening, and I am at a point where things slowed down enough (I mean, it IS 4am!) that I can acknowledge this change.

I have to say that I am excited. I also want to note that the last 10 years, even the parts more recently, seem like a long time ago (yes, in a galaxy far away, too). It’s experience, yet right now and whatever is coming up is what seems exciting and I don’t even know what that is. Have you had any similar experience?

Thanks for reading!

Stacy

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Somewhere in the Middle

Usually talk is about people leaving or who used to be around. Have you ever had people return, even temporarily? I definitely have. Lately, it seems like a particular group is resurfacing, as opposed to a specific person. I met the people through a group called “Full Circle.” At the time, Full Circle hosted an event called “Coping with Divorce.” The event was designed to help people going through the loss of a long term relationship. Usually, that meant divorce. It could also be death of a partner or a break-up without having been married.

Not only is it interesting that I have been running into “Full Circle” friends, I also have friends who have or are ending long term relationships. Their actions and reactions have made me reflective on my personal experience.

One of the best things about seeing Full Circle friends is that there is almost always a hug. For the ones who really have been friends and not just people who may have been at a common activity, that hug is something I have missed. In fact, I saw several of these friends at Art Hop last Friday. Art Hop is a monthly event that I don’t tend to go to as much cause I would rather go with friends. Sometimes, though, like the June event, there’s something special. In this case, I wanted to hear a band. As I walked Downtown to take care of an errand at the beginning of Art Hop, I passed someone I knew and circled back after the errand and I am sooo glad I did! Later, I followed the band to where they played next, and ran into more friends from the same Full Circle group.

Reflection #1

The highlight was seeing the couple waiting for the band. They have been a couple for as long as I’ve known them, which is nearly 10 years. The thing about long term relationships ending is that it makes it tough to feel confident about marriage, even if you’re ok with the relationship part. This couple decided to take that chance after being together for 11 years. I’ve seen that with others, too. Another couple who had been together the whole time I’d known them are now married. Someone else who went through divorce the same time I did (nearly 10 years ago) and began to date immediately, also wed this year. I don’t know details on that one since information came from Facebook postings only.

Reflection #2

The trend seems to be immediate dating or at least “hook-ups,” or leaning on a friend who becomes “more.” For dating, it may not be called that, either. It’s a chance to meet people in person or (usually) online, still with that same end goal. I’ve seen it before and I see it now, over and over and over again. From what I have observed, if either party is still hung up on any past relationship(s), then there are probably more hook-ups or short term relationships than anything. Kind of like the long term “maybe marriage” some day, there isn’t a lot of trust or confidence, even when totally into the partner.

Reflection #3

What I’ve realized from all of this is that how I talk about my marriage or ex-husband has changed. It’s more like facts – where we lived or what we did. It used to be more emotional and now it is just something that happened during a particular set of years. I am more focused and interested on who and what is happening now versus 10 to 20 years ago.

Overall, although I did (and do) like meeting people and making friends, I haven’t felt the need to go on dating sites or “hook-up” just because. However, I do miss friends and having closer ones to “lean on.” Maybe when someone else realizes the same thing and we’re within the same circle of people, I’ll have a new story to talk about. That seems to put me somewhere in the middle – I’m not actively looking for partners and when I do come across those who I view as potentials, I’m not against the idea.

What are your thoughts?

The Seven-Year Itch

wp-1463282602366.jpgThe phrase in the title “The Seven-Year Itch” usually is about marriage. In my case, it’s how long I’ve been divorced. I noticed this recently because I changed my name back to my maiden name, which started conversations and questions. A common question was to ask if I recently got married. No one expects an answer to be “divorce” unless they have known me long enough to know about my previous relationship. A reason I even noticed the 7 years in particular was because I had to dig out my divorce decree as part of changing my name. It was the official paperwork, stamped and signed in February of 2009 which gave permission to return my name to “Stacy Belinsky.”

One of the first questions I had was “Why did it take so long?” At the time, there was a lot going on, and a long list of things to change. It was easier to leave my last name and wait. I had thought that if I waited more than a year that I would have to go through the name change process, which is expensive and time consuming. I’m quite glad that I was wrong!

Another meaning, to me, of “the seven-year itch” is change. Some changes come at you, whether you want them or not and whether you are warned or not. Meanwhile, there is a steady change going on in the background that is accumulating to something bigger. For example, I never thought I would end up as THE Startup Grind Chapter Director of Kalamazoo. It’s quite a different hat than I am used to because I am the one setting the stage, doing things I wasn’t before and finding coverage for what I was doing and cannot. It makes me quite aware and puts everything in slow motion.

Then there is school. For the first couple of years, the object was to work really hard and learn. When I added in psychology classes on top of writing classes, the amount of learning increased exponentially, at least. What’s really cool is that I am getting to the impact part – working on a collaboration of a journal article to be published later this year and (as part of the psychology program) working in a research lab starting in the Fall. Plus, thanks to one of my recent instructors, I have been meeting psychology graduate students in PhD programs. I am hoping that discussions started on campus will continue at a conference in Chicago, and allow for new people and discussions. Another hat and a new type of conference to attend. I am excited!

Writing has always been the backbone. It was the reason I wanted to return to school. Writing is what I enjoy doing the most and I find it something I need to do, too. Writing is the one part of Startup Grind that I consistently get to do, and even though it is a long shot, I’m even hoping to be able to attend the first Europe conference. I already know I could be one of the writers there. Traveling abroad is also a brand new hat, too, and part of the motivation for the timing of the name change – I want to study abroad before I finish my current program, and the first task on the list is to apply for a passport. I wasn’t going to apply until I changed my name, and that, of course, led to the “seven year itch” reference. Many of these changes I am doing as a part of my choices in life and the items mentioned are most recent. If I looked back at 7 years, the accumulation would be a long list. A reason for what I am doing now is because of items in the list from before that opened the opportunities. I can’t wait to see what is next! What are you up to?

Cheers,

Stacy

The Wind and a Plate

I once had a conversation with a friend about having a “full plate.” Many times people talk about how much they have going on and that there really isn’t room for more. My friend’s advice during that conversation was to “get a bigger plate.” Since the plate is being used as a metaphor, then, theoretically, it sounded like a good idea. A bigger plate to me, though, seems like it would be clumsier and more challenging to balance. I have never been a server where I have had to balance plates on a tray and I cannot make a direct comparison. From observation, what I can say is that servers usually end up with multiple trays and help – from other servers and with a portable stand to set down their trays and serve from there.

20160316_170201.jpgThis conversation has specifically been in my mind lately as I think about all of what I do – school, work, Startup Grind, Hacker Gals, and a research project, besides having to make sure I have food to eat, pay bills, and a spot to work on everything, such as writing this post right now. The “plate” is definitely too heavy and clunky, and I have had way too many pizzas to eat lately. Things have to change.

That last thought about things changing was something I connect to Mary Poppins. In the story I remember watching, Mary Poppins flies in (via her umbrella!) to a place where she is needed, and stays until the winds change. It was quite windy the past few days, which had me thinking about this even more. I feel a shift, although just like Mary Poppins, I don’t know where the wind is going to take me. I only know that things are changing. In my case, I believe that the tray needs to be more manageable so there is more of a benefit from each plate.

20160319_161223.jpgAs a part of that, I have been trying to accomplish tasks that will get me to a bigger goal. For example, I’ve wanted to be able to travel internationally for a long time (or even visit Canada again), and I have never had a passport. When I have attempted to save money for the cost, the funds ended up being used for something else. Also, I was officially divorced over 7 years ago and had not legally changed my name back and really wanted a passport in my maiden name. This whole process came up recently because one way to travel internationally is to study abroad, and that is something else I have wanted to do. I had a conversation with someone in that department at school, and she had suggested that I start with the passport, except I knew I had to start with the name change. Seems big, right?

For some reason, I had thought that I couldn’t change back my last name after a year without going through the name change process. I started looking at it again and called to verify where I would go for the name change process. The lady who answered the phone saved me about $300 (the approximate cost of all the steps in the name change process) when she suggested I at least try using my divorce decree at the Social Security Administration office and the Secretary of State. It turned out that the lady had a great suggestion and now I can officially start the checklist for studying abroad. Where will the wind take me and will my plate be too heavy, too light, or just right?

Thanks for reading!

Stacy

January Sweets

Red Velvet Cupcak

I blog because there are so many things to talk about that if all I did was journal I wouldn’t be able to share. It’d be like reading a good business book and not having a discussion to go with it. Lucky (?) for you that even though I slowed down again since the start of the semester, this won’t be one long multiple topic post. Instead, you’ll have more to look forward to (if you enjoy this one).

Book about gerbils

What my young friend was pointing to in this book was a description of his gerbils. He has two of them and was happily letting everyone know as they entered the house so they would go with him to his room and visit. Even more special, though, was the reason he was all dressed up. It was his mom’s wedding day and his responsibility to give her away (he eventually asked what that meant during the month before). What I liked was the genuineness of it all. How could you look at the photograph below and not believe in love?

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I felt that at another wedding about a year and a half ago. That one was bigger and was a longer day of photographing where the one yesterday was smaller and simpler. The bottom line is that they both felt “real.” When I know so many who are or have ended relationships, it’s nice to meet people in ones that have lasted and seem like it really will “as long as you both shall live.”

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Does it sound like a song? Whether it is original, such as with the Chili Pepper Songwriting Club, or a karaoke birthday serenade (below), relationships are a definite song topic. In fact, one of my friends said he wanted to date Taylor Swift just so she would break up with him and he would be famous in a song. Lol.

Birthday Karaoke Serenade

The other relationships that I am always hopeful will stand the test of time are the parent and child, whether the child is a teenager or adult.Cheers to all of it and the hopefulness it brings!

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What do you think?

Thanks for reading! (and commenting/liking)

Stacy

Senior Moments

Bus Stop Fall Trees

This semester, I feel like I have gone back in time, at least partially, and I think about that whenever I take the bus to campus. I am more like a current Freshman, walking around from bus stop to buildings, then any comparison to having been a graduate student through last April. I don’t even feel much like a Senior, which is my technical status. It mostly feels like I have begun again. In one way, I have. Since previous experiences do count, I’ll call it  a transition chapter, and probably the most challenging to date as a student.

Fooseball Collaboration

What I find even more interesting is that there are several parallels to what was happening in my life five years ago. First, I moved in October that year and had a stack of items which had fit into a house that were now sitting in a one bedroom apartment. It took awhile before I could find much of anything. Right now, I am packing and getting ready to move. It is from house to house, at least. The thing that is the same is the chaos and keeping what I need most away from what could easily get buried or lost.

WK on Plastic Tote

In the chaos that I called my apartment five years ago, I had to find enough items where I could put together a portfolio for a Michigan Jaycees competition. I wasn’t sleeping well, mostly because I moved after filing for divorce. I didn’t know exactly what I was doing for the competition, either. What helped was that Neil, the President of the Kalamazoo Jaycees at the time, basically talked me through things. I had to turn the portfolio binder in earlier than the actual travel to the convention. Whatever the deadline was to get it to him, I probably made it just in time.

Starting Gate.Stacy

These days, besides school and getting ready to move, I am also busy with figuring out if my business idea is only that, or if it can go anywhere. As written in Checkpoint, I am moving along yet not too far down. It seems that in practice, I have become an entrepreneur, much in the same way I became a runner. I knew I was a runner when I wanted to, and actually did, run more than walk. How does that work for becoming an entrepreneur? I’m learning, stressed, sometimes happy, tired, and not sure at all if this is what is right. One of my friends said I have probably “hit the wall,” as marathon runners do. I’m also experiencing within a couple of months what he has felt for the last 12 years, Does that make it official?

Open Mic Night

Hopefully, the music and words will match well and whether the first or umpteenth time, it is heading in the correct direction and will not be so rocky.

What do you think?

Thanks for reading (and commenting/liking)!

Checkpoint

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It was my favorite Sunday night of the month a few days ago when I ended up in a conversation with Kaitlin Rose, the songwriter who was showcased at the Chili Pepper Write Night. When Kaitlin was up on stage she had mentioned that she is usually a happy, peppy person who helps bring that out in others. For those times when she is in a different mood, that is usually where she gets her song ideas. What we were discussing was how that puts you out there. Writing the blog posts like I do here is the same thing. Sometimes that makes us an open book with what and how we express to the world, That is not easy, and sometimes it seems scary. At the same time, it is a necessity. Without the writing, those thoughts and feelings would not have a place to go. I post to a blog through the computer while Kaitlin expresses hers with music through her guitar. What would we do without music or words?

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What does any of this have to do with what you are waiting to read about? Well, it goes like this: I mentioned in the post The Break that part of being back in school has included the opportunity to work on a business idea. The business, in many ways, is an extension of myself, and that makes it challenging since I know the emotional aspect to it. Right now, the name of it is Women’s Center of Kalamazoo, and the idea is to have a women’s community group and be able to help each other by breaking down the barriers to success. I thought of this because of my own experiences and the discussions I found myself getting involved in over and over again.

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My story starts with a journey I purposely began six years ago towards self-improvement. During this time I got divorced, I have lost weight, and I finished graduate school. To accomplish these things, I was pretty much on my own and always searching others out for help or ideas. While doing that, others would discover this and ask ME questions, making me the mentor. My idea is to put all that together within a community. Everyone has strengths and things they want to improve. The community I have started to build would give the chance to learn from each other on a wide range of topics. Last week, we learned about line dancing, and had a blast doing it!

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The reason that this post is a “checkpoint” is because the semester is halfway through, and for Starting Gate purposes, that means we are getting near demo day, and, hopefully, working towards successfully completing the milestones we set just over a month ago. My business is a different type then the rest of the founders in my cohort, giving me a unique challenge. I am finding out that this means the path to completing milestones, including proving/disproving the business idea, is not the same as those with an application or a physical item to sell. Thankfully, this journey includes mentors (at least one faculty member), and I have many and am always accepting more, since everyone adds to a different piece of what I am trying to do. Last night, I had advice about a great book to read called “The E-Myth.” (and I seem to be unofficially known as “the book lady.”)

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Another reason I was inspired and have even wanted to work on this is from being involved in Kalamazoo’s start-up community during the last year or so. I have made friends with people like the guys pictured above and am able to attend current and new events, such as the one this week, Startup Grind. Although I am not sure how the story will end, I see the point as being willing to try the journey in the first place. The last few months especially have been some of the most challenging and clearly the most rewarding. Ready or not, here I am!

What are your thoughts or personal experiences on any of this?

Thanks for reading (and commenting/liking!)

Identity Thief

The obvious identity thief is the one who literally steals your information and uses it maliciously (and hopefully gets prosecuted). When that happens, it is a pain in the rear at the least, and even though you are a victim, it can still take a long time to rebuild credit and other things.

Recently, I participated in a writing workshop for two of the three sessions. The workshop was facilitated by a speaker from a seminar I just repeated (as a volunteer) about Coping with Divorce. During the workshop sessions, we reflected on the past for the first week, the present for the second week, and we’ll discuss the future in the third. As we went through writing exercises about the present, there was a line in a poem about giving yourself away. What many people have in common while in a relationship is losing their identity. The person will do for others and not themselves and therefore when the relationship ends, similar to the thief, the person is left without an identity. If it’s always been about doing things with and for others, what you like may have been forgotten or not even given the chance to be discovered.

I believe that it is not only a relationship between two people, such as a marriage, where this occurs. Before we get to that point in life, the same actions start among family and possible friends. Have you chosen a career path because it is what somebody else thought you should do? Have you played on a sports team because it was expected and not because you actually liked it? Have you stayed away from a career path because it was a hobby, and maybe even given up the hobby to be able to support everyone else or because no one thought your hobby important?

Granted, any relationship is give and take. In these cases, though, the true identity is unknown, and is different than the roles of mother, sister, husband, wife, father, brother, friend, colleague, etc. Having your own identity means knowing that you are a “cat” person or knowing that running rocks (for you) over swimming. Having it stolen means you only swim or maybe skip all together because going everywhere for everyone else leaves no time.

I’m not saying don’t give. What I am saying is don’t give away everything. You are a unique individual who deserves to figure out and grow with your identity.

What do you think? Thanks for reading (and commenting)!

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Happy Birthday Gratitude

It’s hard to believe that the start of the next month is also the start of my next year. This isn’t meant as a means for getting extra birthday wishes, although I appreciate that, too! Instead, it is a reflection of how important the celebrations are and have become to me.

The decade birthdays can be a big thing. I was married when I turned 30 and 40. Some of my friends, for various reasons, specifically had parties acknowledging the decade. My ex-husband didn’t think it was worthwhile. To him, at least for my birthdays, it was just a number. (If I didn’t celebrate his, though, he got mad). It was shortly after I turned 40 that I filed for divorce, and during that year that I decided I wanted a birthday party. Plus, since my divorce was final while still 40, it was going to be a “birthday and liberation” party. The other point I decided was that celebrations could be more than one day! I even created a book after everything called “With a Little Help from my Friends.” Here was the beginning:

My birthday was on a Thursday, and, at the time, I was volunteering at the Full Circle seminar Coping with Divorce, which was the first chance to see friends and celebrate.

One of my favorite local events is Art Hop. I usually go with my friends I know from the Kalamazoo Jaycees. However, the fun part is how many OTHERS I run into. Sometimes that is a pretty high number. That particular night I had a birthday serenade, mingled with mimes, and danced to Elvis, all while hanging out with friends.

The final night was my actual “liberation and birthday” party that my friends let me have at their house. Of course, there was a cake, and I was able to see a different mix of people, with some overlap from the previous two nights.

I am forever grateful for all my friends who were involved and celebrated with me that year.

The next year, my birthday was on a Friday, and also Art Hop night. Going out to eat after Art Hop, which was typical, became my main birthday celebration. Thanks to all those who made it a special night, especially the two pictured with me. The day after my birthday I  participated in the WMU Classic 5k (as a walker) and attended a pancake breakfast. At the breakfast, I happened to win a football autographed by Greg Jennings. Woo, hoo!

The third year of doing this, which was last year (2011) it was back to the party format. If you have been following along on the stories, then you know that karaoke was a big part of my life, and, specifically, I was hanging out at a particular place. When my friend, who was working there at the time, told me there was going to be THREE days of karaoke, I knew where I was having my birthday party on that Saturday night. I had a cake, and, more importantly, not only did many friends come to celebrate with me, including Shari, who traveled across the state, I had my “regular” friends I had met there.

It’s hard to believe an entire year has gone by. I am super thankful for all the friends who came out and the ones there who helped set it up. They all made it a fantastic weekend.

I am also thankful to everyone who acknowledged me for my birthday, even if they were not a part of the specific celebrations. Thank you for taking the time to think of me on my birthday!

I’m sure my ex-husband would brush off this next birthday, too. I was always going to be younger than him and my age “just a number.” This is the first one where the “number” is starting to seem significant as I head into mid-40’s. It doesn’t matter how old I look since I know the truth. Still, given that, I am always excited to celebrate. The next story of my birthday celebrations has already begun, and I thank you for reading this and, if you are one of the people celebrating with me, I appreciate you!

With much gratitude,

Stacy

Singled Out

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always had guy friends, along with female friends. When really young, such as elementary school age or younger, the boys were people I knew: in classes, living on the same block, my brother and cousins, etc. Eventually, it started getting more complicated because the crush that cannot be expressed well at 4 years of age suddenly becomes all that is discussed during pre-teen and teen years.

In fact, the “crushes” many times were not for peers. They were about movie, TV and other stars. I fit in differently as far as the conversations. At the time, I was more interested in hearing about local sports teams and the topics guy classmates would talk about versus some of the girl discussions, and was able to be a part of both worlds.

Of course, as life continued into high school, college, and, for awhile, married life, maintaining male friendships becomes even MORE complicated. Aside from marriage, I managed to continue with male or female friends. While married, whether he saw something that I didn’t, was being protective, or was jealous, it was rare that my (ex)husband approved of any male as a friend. In some ways this point is ironic because it was usually his male friends who would approach me when he was not around, which I would tell him, and he didn’t drop any of the friendships based on that information.

Almost four years ago I filed for divorce, which has placed me back in the “single” category. Within the year prior and definitely since, I have met many new people and gained a wide variety of friends. They might be male or they might be female. To me, it doesn’t matter. However, just as my (ex)husband did not care for me to have male friends, sometimes it gets complicated when I have male friends who are in a relationship. After all, I am the single female and I might be after their guy. I try to be careful of that, too. My parents’ marriage ended after my dad found a new female friend and we hung out as two families, at least until he moved out. On the one hand, I don’t want to cause a break up. On the other, when these situations occur, it is probably because the relationship was not stable anyways. Still, I do not want to be in the middle or the cause of anything like that, so I try to be sensitive and modify or drop friendships when necessary.

One of my friends teases me about having a “harem” of guys. I am happy having the mix of friends and I hope that will continue especially when my status changes at some point to “in a relationship.” Meanwhile, I try to be sensitive in this case, too, and not lead anyone on if I know I am not interested beyond friendship. I learn a lot from the variety of friends and don’t want that to change.

What are your thoughts? Do you have a mix of friends or does that become complicated? If you are in a relationship, are most of your friends in a relationship, too?

Thanks for reading!