There’s been a few things happen in the last week or so that have driven me to this conclusion: I need to start fresh.
I have my two blogs, this one (my spiritual one) and my other (my fertility/family) one, and those two things are not mutually exclusive.
I’m also hoping that by deleting this blog fully, along with my other one, that it will finally cut the last thread of connection that my toxic ex has to me.
If you would like the new blog information, please feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com and tell me the name of your blog or who you are, and I will send you the new information once it becomes available.
Thanks everyone! I’m looking forward to this new beginning.
If you want a test of faith and everything else you hold dear, move ten or more hours away from all your friends and family.
It’s been two weeks and two days since my son and I moved to Florida, and about two weeks since the rest of the family followed. When Erin and our daughter came down, they only got about 75% of the stuff we needed, so we I ended up going back to South Carolina the following weekend to get the rest of it.
This meant that I left work, flew to Georgia and then flew to South Carolina. I got in late, went to be late, got up early, got the truck packed and was on the road by 2pm, less than 24 hours after I arrived.
I think my parents were hoping that I would stay the night, but the understood why I felt I couldn’t. I am teaching three classes that I’ve never taught before, so I have a lot of prep work to do.
Our house is a mess because stuff is just everywhere… And our hours are weird because Erin works almost the exact opposite of me right now… I feel like I am literally on my feet from the time I wake up until I go to bed, but I honestly wouldn’t trade any of this crazy, messy life for anything.
I feel so much freer since we moved.
I feel like my kids have a chance at happiness away from a past that hurt them, where the reminders of that past are sitting along every street. I feel like I have a chance at finding a balance within myself that has been missing the last few months.
My new teaching job is unlike anything I’ve experienced before. I have small class sizes, highly motivated students, and two subjects that, while new to me, are fun and interesting and interactive. My students are engaged, and it’s amazing. My coworkers are so nice and awesome, and while I miss my friends back home dearly, I’m glad that I have like-minded people here as well. No one will ever be able to replace my friends from “up north,” but I’m glad I’m in a situation where I can make new friends. Staying at home would have prevented that, in my opinion.
I have always loved the beach. I have always found it relaxing and renewing. It is the combination of all the elements coming together, and there is almost always a breeze. I am an air sign that loves the water, so the beach is my perfect haven, and now I’m only 30 minutes from the closest one.
It rains and storms almost every day, and I love the rain and the storms. They happen in the afternoon and last for an hour or so before the sun comes back out. Perfection.
We haven’t started looking for our new home church yet, but we’re working on getting settled and centered. The kids absolutely love their schools and their curriculum is, in my opinion, more rigorous than where they were. Our daughter is at the same school as me, and our son is at one of the largest elementary schools I’ve ever seen, but his class size is only 11, which is awesome.
Our house has more storage than our old one, but there’s not a lot of long term/seasonal storage (like an attic), so we’ve created a rule about our “stuff:” It either finds a permanent home, or it goes away. If neither of those are possible, then something else must go for it to take its place.
There are some exceptions to this rule: we have a lot of mugs that we are keeping to replace anything that gets broken. We’ve already lost three wine glasses, so some of our replacing ones are already in use. Our pantry is smaller and so is our fridge, so we’ve had to be super selective about our food and what we buy. It’s like a mini-version of minimalism.
We aren’t throwing out food, but we’re also not buying more food until what we have is down enough to fit into the storage that we have. Perishable stuff is the exception… and sometimes we just need stuff, but if we don’t have spaghetti sauce, we’re using up our canned tomatoes first and making our own sauce… that kind of stuff.
We’ve also drastically changed our diet. Erin can’t have diary anymore and our daughter isn’t tolerating it well either. We’ve started making cashew cheese (which is amazing). We’ve also reduced our meat intake (at dinner) to no more than three times a week, and one of those must be fish. I feel fantastic.
I get up between 5:00 – 5:30am every morning, and I feel like I have a ton of energy to actively work 6 classes. I stand on my feet for two hours at a time, but I don’t care. I feel awesome.
The kids are adjusting well. Our neighborhood is not very big and not completely built up yet, so there’s not a lot of kids around our house, and the way the school system works, they go to school with kids from all over the city, so some of their friends in class may live 20 or so minutes away from us.
This move has been and is going to be a game changer for me and my family. I’m not going to pull out the #Blessed card, but I definitely feel the Universe working towards my best interest, which is something I’ve missed in the last few months.
When I finish writing this, I will close my eyes and go to sleep. When I wake in the morning, I will load the last of the stuff that I plan to take into the car and then my son and I will leave for Florida for good.
My wife and daughter will follow on Friday with the rest of the stuff. We don’t get access to our beautiful home until Friday, but I have to be at work on Thursday.
We decided that it would be in the best interest of the family for me to get a job so that I could pay the last of my debt off quicker and we could start saving more. And, like a prayer answered, the perfect job fell out of the sky for me: I will be teaching middle school engineering at a charter school. Small class sizes, more freedom.
I am so excited. I haven’t been this excited about a job since I got my last one. I am looking forward to going back.
I also finished grad school this last week, so my SECOND masters is in the books with a 4.0 to show for it.
I am sad to be leaving the only real home I’ve ever known, but I’m also excited to be starting this new journey with my amazing family and I’m so grateful for all the opportunities we’ve been given so far.
This is so good for us to get away from a place that has become so toxic over the years. It’s home to me, but that doesn’t mean it’s always good. Aside from my friends and my family, there is nothing for us here anymore. Especially not for Erin, as the state voted to screw over every child with autism on Medicaid ever.
I keep reminding myself to take deep breaths. The day has come, ready or not, so let’s hope that I’m ready!
We have three weeks and a couple days before we leave South Carolina for good and start our journey forward in Florida. Part of this journey requires that we find a new spiritual home.
Here, we’ve been attending the literal most faith-affirming church we have come across. It’s hard for people in our situation to find a steady place of worship that is open and accepting of your faith and practices, that will nourish you spiritually and help you along you way to grow as a stronger spiritual person.
When we were starting on this path here, we were split. At the time, Erin was living a state away, and we were splitting our weekends between here and there. Here, we were attending the Unitarian Universalist Church. There, we were attending the Creation Spirituality church.
At the time, if we’d had the choice, we would have picked up our church there and moved it here, but we didn’t have that kind of option, unfortunately, and we felt stuck in a place that we felt was literally afraid of offending anyone.
All Unitarian Universalist (UU) churches are different. We tried the local one and the one a town over, but neither of them felt right. It felt like we were stuck there out of a lack of choice, not because we wanted to be there, felt welcome, affirmed, and spiritually fed. Week after week we would go and listen to their messages about social justice and broadening our educations through listening to different people speak on different topics.
The hymns were classical church hymns with a UU twist to them, but it was still a stand up, sit down, sing a song with little beat, etc. The messages were, to us, bland and uninspiring. The messages didn’t help us to feel spiritually fed. We didn’t feel the desire to make a change within ourselves, let alone the world around us. We felt as though we’d spent the last hour of our lives listening to a BuzzFeed video or some other infomercial about whatever the topic of the day was.
Yes, they accepted gay people. Yes, they accepted Pagans… But was that really it? It got to the point where we stopped going all together.
That was when we found Unity, which not only accepted us a gay women but also as pagans. The music was uplifting, it got us moving. The messages inspired change within ourselves, and the meditations helped us to connect to whatever spiritual power we felt the desire to be connected to. It wasn’t long before we realized: This was our spiritual home.
But, just like with UU churches, Unity churches are also all so different, so moving is going to mean we need to begin exploring different churches there.
And within driving distance, we have quite a few options:
- Two UU churches within 30-40 minutes
- One Unity church within 30-40 minutes
- One Center for Spiritual Living within 15 minutes
- Two UU churches just outside an hour’s drive
- Two Unity churches just outside an hour’s drive
There’s definitely more choice in Florida than there is here, and I’m looking forward to starting this journey again. The last two weeks, Erin has gone ahead and checked a coupl places out.
Last weekend, she went to the larger and more established UU of the two in the area. She said, “It’s just like the one back home. I felt like I was being lectured to about something I didn’t really need to be lectured to about by someone who was really angry about it. I ended up leaving half way through.”
At this point, Erin said she’s 0 for 3 when it comes to UU churches, and she’s not looking forward to checking any else out. She said she won’t go without me anymore. I started wondering, why is it that we don’t seem to mesh with the UU? Their principles meet with our own spiritual standards, so what is it?
I think I figured it out: it comes down to the difference between being religious and being spiritual.
Now, these two terms are not completely separate, nor are they completely inseparable. Religion is a set a beliefs shared between individuals within a group. Spirituality is the force behind religion. It’s the freedom of living without strings to hold you down. It’s the feeling of surrender to a greater journey. It’s the sense of gratitude and love and wonder that comes with simply living.
But Kel, I’m religious and I feel all those things.
Yes, I suspect that you would because healthy religion is going to lead you on a path to a more spiritual and free life. And that, right there, is where I think the UU churches, or at least the ones I’ve been to, seem to struggle.
There is a lot of unhealthy religion out there in the world that attempts to control people through fear and hate and violence. There are a lot of people out there who have been wounded by those bad religions, and many times they go unhealed because they don’t know where to begin.
But here’s the thing: behind the bad religion is a story of spiritual peace and freedom. It is perfectly possible to look beyond the dogma to the real Truth, which could, I believe, help many people heal from the hut and pain that was caused by those bad religions, but it takes time and it takes being unashamedly unafraid to stand up and actually talk about it.
And it’s not easy to talk about a Higher Power when so many have been hurt by the words of failing humans who just missed the mark like the rest of us. It’s easier to say, “Well, if the God they believe in is going to say and do the things that they say and do, then I’m just not going to believe in that God.” It’s easier to put God or the Gods in a box and put that box on a shelf in a dark room in the back of our brain.
And then, it’s really easy to get upset when people come around and talk about God. “I don’t want to hear about that. That hurts me, and I don’t want to mess with it.” And I get it. I was hurt by the Christian church when I came out many years ago, and it’s taken a long time for me to be able to step back and realize that the Higher Power isn’t in the words that people say or the things that people do that hurt me. Hell, the Higher Power isn’t even in the words in the book. It’s beyond that. It’s deeper than that. It’s greater than a few thousand translated pages.
That is where, for Erin and myself, the UU churches we’ve been to seem to fail. They are catering to a population of people that have placed God in a box, and maybe they’ve kept the box to themselves instead of locking it away, but they are definitely not sharing their box with everyone else because the God in the box of others may be completely different or it may be locked away, and it’s better to just keep our box to ourselves instead of trying to bridge or even unpack our boxes… to look at the Truth beyond the rituals and words.
In a spiritual home, we were desperate to hear a message that spoke to the box we’d placed our Gods in so that They could come out into this world and we could worship openly without the fear that we would offend someone with our unyielding faith. When we were at the UU, the conversations were all extremely humanist.
We, as humans, have the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, and we don’t necessarily need the help of a Higher Power that may or may not exist. Services there caused us to feel like we needed to box up our Gods and place them in storage while we listened to a lecture on a system of beliefs that was more informational than inspiring or spiritually nourishing.
But coming to Unity, we felt our boxes unpack and our connections return. The beautiful thing about the local Unity church is that their principles, while not as specific as those of the UU, are essentially the same, but they are unashamedly theist, which is what we needed.
We are not humanist. We have no problems with people who are, and for those that are, we fully believe that the UU is a fantastic and wonderful place to go. We are theist, and we are unashamed of it. I had such high and wonderful hopes for the UU churches in Florida as a possible place for us to call home because just like all UUs are different, all Unity churches are different, and just because we found our spiritual home here at Unity does not mean we will feel it there as well.
We are, of course, going to give them another shot once our entire family is there and school is back in session, but a humanist meeting place is not the place for a couple of theists. But this is part of the journey to finding a spiritual home: trying different places more than once, going back again and again to places we enjoy until finally, we realize we haven’t left in awhile, so this must be home.
And where ever that place may be in Florida, I am looking forward to getting there.
Erin moved to Florida yesterday. She left around 8:30 in the morning as I took our kids to their appointments. I hugged her tight while she cried and I bit back my own tears. We can’t both cry at the same time. This time, it was my turn to be the rock.
I kissed her. She said she didn’t want to go. I told her it was going to be awesome. We hugged again.
I will probably not see her until the weekend after next.
This is, by far, the biggest test of our relationship. Honestly, I don’t think there’s a test bigger than this.
In between running around and doing all the things, I’ve been doing a lot of praying.
I know without a shadow of a doubt that this is a good move for our family. My faith in this matter is unshakable. The fear and the anxiety is still trying to creep in, but in the process of making sure I got my to do list completed today, I suddenly had a moment of clarity and peace.
This is good. It may be difficult and hard, but it is still good. You are taken care of and loved, and everything will work out the way it is supposed to.
I’ve been holding on to that ever since.
And things are working out. She’s not even full time yet and already making more than I did, and I feel she’ll be full time quickly. She’s quick to pick up on stuff and she’s super smart and organized, so I have no doubts on her ability or her dedication or drive.
And in the mean time, we’ll watch Netflix over the phone together.
So, as it usually happens, life gets the best of me. I haven’t been able to continue on with the 30 Days Challenge, but I plan on doing it over and completely once this school year is over. I just haven’t had time between working, the kids, and everything else that’s going on…
But now that everyone that needed to know has been notified, I can actually start talking about it.
The last three months have been a roller coaster of ups and downs. In March, we found out I was pregnant. Almost immediately afterwards, Erin lost her job. Then almost immediately after that, the kids’ adoptions were finalized. Then, a couple weeks later, Erin found out that she passed her national board exams and would be able to start job hunting.
She took a couple of weeks to let everything sink it, but then contacted her friend who lives in Tennessee, who is in the same line of work. He mentioned the would be hiring in the next month or so, so we went up there in April to explore the area. It was really nice and we found some good and affordable housing options, so we updated Erin’s resume and she sent it off to them.
In the mean time, we were a family of four living off of my teacher’s salary, and it wasn’t getting any easier. We took money out of savings and paid it back when we were able, only to pull it back out again. At one point, we had to borrow money from my parents to buy groceries and pay for Erin’s car.
We somehow snaked by the next month, but this month, our church is paying for our mortgage so we could buy groceries. Unfortunately, we don’t qualify for any kind of assistance because I apparently “make too much money,” even though things are a big struggle right now.
Then, at the end of April, we found out I’d suffered a missed miscarriage. The baby I was carrying didn’t make it past 8 weeks and 5 days, but my body didn’t realize it and held on the three weeks until the ultrasound. I had a D&E the next day.
That very same day, Erin was offered a job.
Her friend in Tennessee got a call from a company in Florida asking if he was interested in relocating. He said no, but gave them Erin’s contact information. They contacted her, the told him yes, and they set up an interview.
She had the phone interview while I drove us to the OB that morning. She was offered the job while I was waiting in the waiting room of the OB.
This is, essentially, her dream job. They offered her two positions in Florida, depending on where she wanted to live, and she said she’d go down to check out the areas first before deciding. They paid for her hotel rooms. They’re giving her relocation money to help us move.
And they’re paying her over double what I made as a teacher and over three times what she made at her previous job. I, essentially, will not have to work if I don’t want to. I will probably focus on the home for the first few months and then get into subbing. Maybe go back to the classroom the year following, depending on what our family looks like at that point.
She went down, explored both areas, picked one, found a home with our agent, and put an offer on it. The offer was accepted, but then we got the call that we couldn’t get a loan because of the way that Erin’s job is structured. We still haven’t secured housing.
She leaves in a couple weeks, and I will stay behind with the kids until we can secure housing.
In the mean time, I resigned my position at my school in a huge leap of faith. This was probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve worked at that position for the last six years, and it’s all I’ve ever known as far as my career… and now my days there are literally numbered. My last pay check is June 30th.
I told my church about the move, but also said I would continue to work there until we have a move date listed.
I have literally never been so scared about such a huge change in all my life. And while I am super excited for what our future holds, I’m also anxious to get all the details ironed out.
There’s been many days the last few weeks where I’ve been grieving the loss of our pregnancy, while simultaneously stressing about our future.
Moving is just picking the two of us up and going. It’s transferring the kids’ IEPs and schools. It’s selling the house that we currently live in.
It’s me giving up all the control I’ve ever had to rely completely on another person for my well being and safety.
I have literally had panic attacks about this for the last few weeks, and mixing those with the grief has made me a miserable blah. Yesterday, when I placed my resignation, I cried as I handed over the paper. The secretary who accepted it hugged me and told me everything would work out. They’d miss me, but this was a good move for us. I cried more.
“You aren’t worried about the move, and you aren’t going to miss the school as much as you think.” My coworker said. “You’re mostly upset about your loss of control.”
He’s right, of course. It’s scary for me.
Then, yesterday, as I heard a song on the radio that was exactly what I needed to hear. I hadn’t heard it before and I haven’t heard it since. This happens to me sometimes where I’ll hear songs one time when I need to hear them, but then never again.
This one was about not giving up and the road being long and hard for a reason.
Since then, this song has been my anthem, and it’s given me a lot of strength. I have my fighting spirit back because I have to. I don’t have the option of returning to my old job, so this is basically it: panic and break down or fight and make things happen.
I have chosen the second of the two options.
TaTa, South Carolina! Hello, Florida!
My wife Erin got home yesterday from a business trip, and we’re moving forward on big things, so I didn’t have time to update. Here’s the blog from yesterday.
Today’s challenge was to listen to our voices of “not enough.” We were instructed to write down all the ways we felt like we were not enough.
- I feel as though I do not do enough around the house.
- I feel as though I do not do enough with work.
- I feel as though I do not do enough with my family or my friends.
- I feel as though I do not do enough in taking care of myself.
But I am enough, and I do enough. I get overwhelmed so easy when my anxiety sometimes that the feelings of failure creep up into my life and try to strangle out all the truth: I am enough. I do enough.
Sometimes, I can be lazy and not do what I need to do, but these little failures and set backs do not mean that I am not enough. I am exactly what I need to be, and that is enough.
Moving forward towards my goals doesn’t mean that I’m trying to be “enough” or “more” than what I am now. It simply means that I have a goal, and I can move towards that goal because I am enough.
Today’s journal prompt says, “How would I define feeling ‘enough’ as it relates to me personally, and how can I grow by spending time listening to these voices that tell me I am not enough?”
To me, enough means that I am doing what I can, when I can, and letting the rest of everything else go. Enough means I am where I am supposed to be when I am supposed to be there. It means that, to the best of my ability, I follow through with the goals I set for myself, and understand that if I fail or don’t reach whatever goal I have set for myself that it’s not because I didn’t try and do my best.
The voices in my head tell me that I’m not enough when I have too much coming at me at once. They tell me I’m not enough when I have 10 things to do, but I only manage to complete 5 of them.
When it comes to growing, I think it’s important for me to remember that the voice in my head sees the finish line as the be all end all for being enough, and this isn’t the case. The truth is that I’m enough because I do my best. I’m enough because I give every day 100% even if the 100% isn’t the same from day to day or what others would see as 100%.
I am enough because I do the best I can.
Today’s challenge was a meditation. I tried to complete it TWICE, but I kept getting interrupted (yay, kids!), but now that the kids are in bed, I should have a better chance of doing it. In the parts that I got completed, I felt good about it.
I felt calmer, less stressed. I felt more peaceful.
Today’s Journal Prompt is: What is a past experience that left you feeling powerless and afraid, and how can you let go of it knowing what you know now?
My past experience would be my miscarriage. When I saw the ultrasound, and saw the baby hadn’t grown in weeks, I felt completely powerless. I knew what this meant, and I knew what was going to happen next, and I was terrified.
What if I couldn’t carry a child to full term? What if I was never able to get pregnant again? What if the procedure in the hospital damaged my body in some way?
So many what ifs played through my head while the doctor talked about my options. We decided on the D&E because there was no telling how long it would have taken my body to realize that the body inside me had died.
That was when I felt powerless and afraid. Afraid of all the possible outcomes, both good and bad. Powerless to make anything go my way. I couldn’t bring back a dead body. There was a heartbeat, and then there wasn’t one, and there hadn’t been one for three and a half weeks.
I know now that deaths at that early stage are caused by chromosomal abnormalities. I know that my body wanted that baby because it held on for so long. I know that I can get pregnant and I will get pregnant again.
But none of that has really helped me move past the worst part of it all: never being able to meet the child that was growing inside of me.
That is, until a friend told me something so powerful that it has literally changed my entire point of view: The soul of that child was never in that body.
How much would it suck to be created, but never get to be born? That’s what miscarriage though is: “I’ll see this child again some day… happy, healthy, and whole in heaven.”
But what if that wasn’t the case? What if the soul of the child is still out there, waiting to be born?
I think that’s the case. Ever since that moment, I’ve felt a presence around me. Most of the time, it feels male. Sometimes it feels female. Who knows, maybe it is two different energies. They’re filled with love and with peace, and it has been so calming to me.
I told this to my minister and his wife, and he told me they had a similar experience with a similar situation involving a miscarriage they suffered.
So for now, I have two beside me and one (maybe two) above me. Someday, I’ll have three (maybe four) beside me, and none above me.
The loss of the body wasn’t the loss of the child. We are not the bodies we reside in. We are the energy, the soul, inside the body that carries us. That body wasn’t able to carry the soul that was destined for it, so some day… another body will be made… and maybe that time, the soul of our future child/ren will be able to inhabit it.
My wife is out of town this week, so I’ve been a solo-parent. Yesterday was a long day, and then my dinner plans didn’t go as planned, which made it longer. Here’s my blog for yesterday. I’ll write the Day 4 one a little later.
Today’s challenge was to ask someone close to us what our greatest strength and our greatest weakness was. I asked three people: My wife (Erin), my best friend (Amy), and another really good friend (Becky).
My wife Erin said, “You’re driven. When you set to get a task done, you get it done. That would be your greatest strength. You’re greatest weakness would be your will power. When it comes to eating healthy and that kind of thing, if you have a craving, you give in to it pretty quickly.”
My best friend Amy said, “Empathy is your greatest strength. It’s also a weakness because you carry the weight of the world on your shoulders at time. You’re a fixer. It causes you a lot of stress.”
My other really good friend Becky said, “I’d say a strength would be that you are very caring and open. A weakness, I would say, is that you’re very sensitive.”
I would agree with all of the above.
Personally, I think my greatest strength would be my drive, like Erin said. Any time I have put my mind to something, I have completed my goal. When it comes to the important things, to me, I will complete everything I decide to do.
My greatest weakness? I tend to overthink things and stress too much. A lot of this has to do with my anxiety that I control without medication and can sometimes become overwhelming to me, but in terms of my goal, I think I should focus the most on the willpower weakness that I have that Erin mentioned.
It’s a huge problem for me. I have such a hard time telling myself no to things I want (like food that isn’t the healthiest or sweets).
Here’s to awareness and hopefully to conquering!
Today’s challenge was to find a way to hold ourselves accountable for our goal. It gave us some suggestions, and without really knowing it, I ended up doing a couple of them already.
I could make a public announcement: check.
Or I could recruit a friend to join me: check. (I convinced my wife to get in on this, and she’s been doing stuff sooner than me.)
But neither of those are near as motivated at what we actually did today: raised our stakes. What happens if we don’t meet our goal? What happens if we don’t maintain our goal?
Well, our goal is to work out for 30 minutes, 3 times a week (at least).
And here’s our consequences:
Mine: If I don’t work out for the amount in our goal, I lose all sugary treats permanently until I’m able to work out three times a week for a month straight.
Erin: If she doesn’t work out for the amount of time given, she can only play her switch for one hour once a month until she is able to work out three times a week for a month straight.
Those are some pretty motivating factors for us, so here’s to hoping we can hold ourselves accountable.
Today’s journal prompt is: Staying committed to my 30-day goal is important to me because…
It means that I will be a healthier and happier and more peaceful person. It means that when it comes time to start trying to expand our family again, I will be in a healthier position to do so.
Not that my body was the actual problem in my pregnancy. In fact, my body wanted to have that baby so bad that even after it died, my body held onto it for three and a half weeks and would have continued to hold on to it for who knows how long if we hadn’t had the D&E.
But I can always be healthier, and I can always be more active, and I can be more ready for IVF so that when it comes time for that in August, we won’t have to wait as long for things to take if I am in the best health I can be at the time.
It also means that I’ll be better able to take care of my family if I’m taking care of myself. There’s big changes around the corner, and to make things move smoothly, I need to be the best that I can be. Taking the best care of myself as possible is the number one way to make that happen.