Memorial Day Memories

Memorial Day Memories

It’s Day 352 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project and our family spent it making some Memorial Day memories. Because we’re a big fat blended family ranging ages 5-63, getting everyone together, even for holidays, can be a challenge. Today, all but two who had to work were present, so after faith and a prayer remembering all who have given their lives in service, fun, fellowship, and a fuss free BBQ rib, brisket, pulled chicken and all the fixins feast, our youngest, Izzy, snapped this family photo (the one with her in it didn’t turn out great and didn’t make the cut…). Adding my oldest stepson’s in-laws into the Memorial Day mix is becoming a new tradition. His mother-in-law and I go back to my teaching days. Faith further connected us when she heard I’d been made homeless when my abusive marriage ended and she gifted me with dishwater and cutlery during my transition into a townhouse. Now we’re family. Sharing the meal and our children with her made for more special Memorial Day memories.

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My Big Fat Blended Family Minus a Few – Males left to right – Oldest stepson’s father-in-law, son, Levi, oldest stepson, middle stepson, hubby. Females – Daughter, Liv, Me – Pink Collar Coach, daughter-in-law, daughter-in-law’s mom. I’m in an oldie but goodie dress and shrug, with matching thong sandals and floral handbag. All Calvin Klein from TJ Maxx over the years. 

I lost my beloved father, a Marine who served in Vietnam,  at thirty. At his funeral, after “Taps” played, his folded flag was placed in my arms. Though he didn’t lose his life in combat, his sacrifice was still great. All of my life, he slept under the kitchen table where he felt safe – like he was in a bunker. He’s been gone seventeen years but I still feel his loss like it was yesterday. My son, Levi, looks like him. A few months ago, I took him shopping at Goodwill and he selected a patriotic T-shirt to wear under his red fave red hoodie. Seeing he chose to wear that shirt today, and my father’s face looking back at me from that of my son’s, made for another magic memory. So did shopping for over two hours for a swim suit Liv could wear for another fun trip we have planned for tomorrow. I know, two hours is a lot! But at one point, her father’s now ex-wife had her wearing skimpy strings that substituted for bikinis. Now that she’s out of the picture,  Liv seems to have returned to her more modest roots. Besides, though my hubby has never served in the military, both he and Levi were real troopers during the Great Swim Suit Expedition!

As a Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Swan, I’m all about minimizing barriers and maximizing beauty and best lives. Divided loyalties (a new D!), divorce, domestic relations issues, dysfunctional relationships, etc. could all make the holidays abysmal. Instead, I’m learning to embrace the family I do have and to make the most of our time together. Even so, I’m not gonna lie. At times we’re a mess. But what beautifully messy Memorial Day memories we make.

How about you? Are you Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose about embracing your mess at home or work? With a little change of perspective, you may come to see it as beautiful, too.

Be savvy & chic,

~Pink Collar Coach

 

Izzy & Me

Izzy & Me

It’s Day 247 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project and since I attended her preschool graduation tonight, I’m blogging about Izzy and me. Because Izzy was born only a few years after I married her grandfather (she turned five Monday), and my son was barely eight at the time, I didn’t become grandma but Mimi – short for Tammi. Despite not being ready for grandchildren, my heart leaps with joy every time Izzy – my special name for Adriana Isabella – greats me with “Mimi!” She knows I’ll feed, dance, play and sing with her when all the other adults are watching sports in the Man Cave. Izzy and I have spent many happy hours watching Frozen and Legend of the Guardians more times than I can count and reading stories from her bedtime collection. Swimming and floating around the Lazy River on vacation and even sharing our first Uber ride to the mall are memories we share. Tonight was also a special time. Even though our family took up and entire row at graduation, this precious, precocious little girl’s eyes seemed to find mine and she blew me a kiss – our thing. Then at dinner where we were seated directly across from each other, she reached out and took hold of my fingers. “I love you, Mimi”, she smiled and eyes full, I told her the same. Though the only one at the table not related to her by blood, that doesn’t diminish the tight bond between Izzy and me.

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Izzy & Me, Mimi. I’m in a favorite dress I wore to a family wedding last summer, a cardigan in a complimentary shade, and strappy heels with pink, orange, & blue that mirror the dress’s colors perfectly.                                        Pink handbag with scrappy straps. ; )  All Calvin Klein from TJ Maxx. 

As a Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Mimi, I’m thankful God gave me this little girl when He did. I didn’t know it at the time, but on nights like this – my children’s last day of 7th and 8th grade/middle school – when they’re at their father’s, He knew I needed her love to fill the whole left by them not being here. Divorce causes that…But tonight, sharing a meal with the family who loves her, including my husband’s first wife – Tammy with a “y”/Grammy to Izzy – and my stepson’s in-laws, I remembered there really is hope beyond divorce. My parents made it work…Maybe we can. Celebrating Adriana Isabella together, it felt like my big fat blended family got even bigger. And I didn’t even feel like the only step at the table.  I just felt very blessed by the ties that bind us – beginning with Izzy and me.

How are you Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose regarding those surprise relationships in your life? You know the ones you didn’t know you’d need or value – in your personal and or professional life? How can you be?

Be savvy & chic,

~Pink Collar Coach

 

Playing a Round with Love

Playing a Round with Love

It’s Day 283 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project and after a productive work day, I spent this evening “Playing a Round with Love”. There’s a short story with this title by one of my all-time favorite authors, Rosamunde Pilcher, and though I read it the first time twenty years ago, its lesson is one I still apply today. In the story, a new young bride sits sulking at a resort because her groom has left her alone to play a round of golf. An older woman joins her and ends up sharing some sage wisdom about the benefits of couples having their own individual interests and pursuits. Then she demonstrates how she’s lived a long, healthy marriage doing just that when she lovingly greets her husband – who’s accompanied by the groom – when they come off the green. You see, he’d left her to go play as well – and she’d occupied herself with other things she enjoyed – as they’d been been doing their entire marriage. The couple had learned that their time apart made coming together that much sweeter. Tonight, I followed this example by going to the bookstore then heading over to join my hubby and company at an indoor virtual golf course. As much as I enjoyed the time alone, reuniting with him was even better. I’m grateful that Ms. Pilcher taught me about playing a round with love.

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A rose amongst thorns! My second oldest stepson, my hubby’s best friend from high school ,my oldest stepson, and my sweet hubby.                                                                                                              Me, Pink Collar Coach- Calvin Klein sweater, green jeggin’s and black boots w/a floral handbag. 

One of my husband’s friends, who does practically everything with his wife, once asked him how the two of us get along so well. My husband was and still is a consummate athlete, and I don’t enjoy sports at all. While he participates in and spectates at nearly every one, you’ll seldom find  me doing either. The difference between that couple and us is that we’re more than O.K. not spending every waking hour together. When we are, we talk at a deep level and really connect, and we’re secure in each other’s love – whether we’re in the same space or not. I’m not being critical of the other couple – in fact I’m happy that they’re so symbiotic. I’m also happy that we don’t have to be. We’d both suffocate!

As a Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose wife and stepmom, I do believe it’s important for my husband and my stepsons to see that while golf, baseball, basketball, bowling, etc., etc. are not my thing, they are. Though it may not always be apparent, I love them fiercely…All of these men in my life say I’m as “fru fru” as it gets, so it’s fun to surprise them every once in a while by showing up in one of their “man” settings unexpectedly. And as much as the boys – especially the oldest – razzes me, he’s also the first to ask if his dad and I are alright if he senses we’re not. It’s good for them to see how much I adore him with a sacrificial love that makes me spend my night on a simulated golf course instead of curled up on the sofa with my new book. After all, thanks to all my reading, I may not be any good at golfing, but I’m pretty adept at “Playing a Round with Love”.

Are you Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose with your relationships – valuing time spent together and apart?

Be savvy & chic,

~Pink Collar Coach

Minimizing Not Being Mommy & Maximizing Being Being Mimi

Minimizing Not Being Mommy & Maximizing Being Being Mimi

It’s Day 228 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project, and I’ve spent the last few days minimizing the fact that I can’t be a mommy on this trip and maximizing being Mimi to my oldest stepson’s daughter. Divorce is one of the Ds (challenges) many of us Pink Collar moms face, and that often means missed holidays with our children. Regular readers may also know I almost stayed home from our annual big fat blended family Christmas Myrtle Beach trip because it’s the first one without my kiddos. Instead, thanks to my hubby, I’m a life coach who practices what she preaches. Basically, I had to put on my big girl pants and minimize the fact that my son and daughter aren’t here and make the most of the fact that my step-grandaughter is.

Izzy (my special name for her – a shortened for of her middle name  Isabella) came into our lives not quite three years after I married her grandad. My son had just turned eight. That being the case, I was (and still am) figuring out my place as stepmom and was nowhere near ready to become a grandma. Besides that, Izzy has two other grandmas: my hubby’s ex- Tammy with a y, who is Grammy and her maternal grandma, Abuelita (granny in Spanish), or Lita, who is Puerto Rican. Two funny things about this: Tammy is taller than me, so I’m little Tammi, and I’ve known Lita, also known as Senora, to the high schoolers she’s taught for twenty-plus years for almost as long (back to my days as a middle school teacher). She gave me dishes and silverware when my wasband (was + husband) made me homeless. Now we’re in-laws!

Given that I’ve had a full-time job her whole life, I’ve only spent a few hours at a time with Izzy. This trip has changed that. We’ve played at the mall, swam, gone to see Ferdinand (super cute!), read books and taken the singing and dancing we usually do at home to the next level. And, as four-year-old precocious Izzy would say – “Wait for it” – we took our first Uber to and from the movie theater today! Suburbanite I’ve become, I drive everywhere, so when the guys had a tee time at a course in the opposite direction right when our movie started, I downloaded the app, secured a ride, grabbed the car seat and then enlisted a brawny guy to lug it through concessions right to our seats. I reversed that process on the way home and even had our Uber driver swing by a burger joint for our “linner” (late lunch/early dinner). Who says you can’t teach a middle aged Mimi new tricks? Izzy and I had a blast!

As a Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Maximizer, I’m not gonna lie. I’ve missed my children something fierce this trip. Movies and the lazy river are our special things. But if I’d allowed myself to dwell on that, another D, depression, would have set in so bad I’d have missed out on the child God gave me, not just for this trip, but for a lifetime. Now we have our special things- movies and the lazy river included. The adoration, affection, hugs and kisses she’s lavished on me have been a balm for my mommy heart. So much so that though I’m still not ready to take on the title Grandma, I might try Grandmimi on for size.

(Just hear Izzy yell “Mimi!”. Gonna go join her in the pool. 💕).

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Me, Mimi and Izzy. We did obey the rule to only have one in a tube  and only shared for the pic. 

Be savvy & chic,

~Pink Collar Coach

Grateful, Thankful and Blessed In My Blended Family Mess

Grateful, Thankful and Blessed In My Blended Family Mess

Day 191 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project was early Thanksgiving at my home and it has me feeling grateful, thankful and blessed in my blended family mess. The messy part is that divorces have created a situation where my stepsons will be out of town with their mother for the holiday and my children are with their father. In order for us to be able to celebrate with the former, our Thanksgiving gathering was today. And while I wish my babies could have been with us, I was in my element preparing to host.  Setting out my pumpkins stirred up feelings of gratitude and thankfulness. Soon I realized how blessed I am in the midst of my mess.

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My Thanksgiving decor is comprised of lots of white and bling. These pumpkins say it all for me. Table set with Simply Shabby Chic tablecloth, glass cloche with flowers, pitcher filled with my favorite – roses, and other Shabby Chic touches.

After shopping, cleaning/decorating, and then cooking, I paused right before everyone arrived to take a picture of the dining room table where appetizers were set up buffet style. Getting one afterward is impossible because they fall on the food like they’re starved! Looking around my home and at the abundance of food – a feast really – prepared for my family, I started to miss my children but again shifted my focus to having an attitude of gratitude and thankfulness for what I do have instead of what I don’t.

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The day was overcast without much natural light so this picture could considered gloomy.     With a grateful, thankful, blessed attitude, I see even cast in shadows it is lovely. 

 

 

Consummate athletes, my hubby and stepsons are not enamored with my Shabby Chic decorating style. Because I moved into their home and needed to make it feel like my own we’ve had our challenges with this over the years  (I’d come from having 100% decorating freedom to living in what amounted to a Sports Central Lodge). Thankfully, now that they’re older with two of them having their own places and one of them living here only half the time, it seems how I decorate means less and less to them. While I stick with my aesthetic, creating an atmosphere that makes them want to come home means a great deal to me. Making their childhood home inviting, warm and welcoming is my goal. Judging by the wonderful time we had eating, watching football (the Bengals/Bungles win was a pleasant surprise), playing Golfopoly (Monopoly for those who’d rather be golfing), and NOT looking at phones I’m proud to say, it seems mission accomplished.

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Me, Pink Collar Coach and stepmom to three huge sons, mom-in-law to my oldest stepson’s wife and Mimi (a derivative of Tammi) for a precious, precocious four-year-old.                                         As usual, Hubby would rather take the pics than be in them.                                                                 Calvin Klein rust colored sweater and pants. I tossed the matching duster while cooking!
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The dining room tonight. Different lighting, same loveliness.                                                                 The pink Happy Harvest sign was Home Goods $4 clearance steal!

As a Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Cygnet who saw her ex-mother-in-law for the first time in a decade at the grocery store this morning and her wasband waiting as she checked out, while I sometimes wish for my children’s sake that their family was intact, I’m very grateful to have been grafted into a family where I’m accepted and loved for who I am. Even though in many ways my hubby and the boys and I couldn’t be more polar opposite. Even though we don’t always understand each other. The difference is  I’m no longer abused or mistreated. Of course my big fat blended family isn’t perfect. None is. But when we have days like today, I feel nothing but grateful, thankful and blessed. That’s when I don’t see us as a mess. I just see us as mine.

How about you? What “messes” do you have in your life for which you are grateful and thankful? How do they bless you?

Be savvy & chic,

~Pink Collar Coach