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I took a quick look back over my posts so far this year and realized that I haven’t said much, if anything about Beauty School and it’s become such an important part of my life!  So here’s an overview from the beginning:

I walked into school for the very first time right after I moved to Montana.  A man was at the front desk, (later I learn his name is Rayalf), and he called one of the teachers up (who turned out to be Kammi).  While I’m waiting for Kammi I notice a tall man with blue hair – that was Kyle, who turns out to be my Cwtch…

Kammi takes me back to her office and tells me a little bit about the school, introduces me to the owner, Misty, as “the girl with the nail hours”, assures me I am all set to start with the next class.

The school is much smaller than I expected it to be, in the bigger city I left I used to go to beauty schools all the time to get my hair done and this school is barely a quarter of the size of any of those and yet there’s between 30 and 40 students and three instructors, hmm, this could be interesting…

Fast forward about 3 weeks, I show up to the school and meet my 8 other classmates.  All nice girls and we range in age from 18 to me at 43.  The girl who was in her 30’s dropped out after a couple of months so now it’s just me and the younger ones, lol.  We spent roughly 8 weeks in the back room doing book work and practicing on mannequin heads before we were allowed to move to the front and work on the public.

Just writing this out I realize that none of this is the important part.  The people there, the other students and the instructors are what has made this experience so life-changing for me.

There’s lots of swearing, even from the instructors.  Anything that can be turned into a sexual innuendo is done so with a vengeance and everybody laughs like it’s the funniest thing in the world.  Rayalf, in particular, loves practical jokes and almost everyone affectionately calls each other Bitch or Dude, depending on the mood they’re in.  It’s a circus of chaos and craziness.  But here’s the thing – these people are a family.  They’re real.  In spite of the bickering and the arguing they get along most of the time.  They share their supplies and food with each other.  They listen to each other’s stories,  empathize and hug.  And aside from their moral standards being vastly different than my own they have a much healthier outlook on sex and sexuality than I do.  Granted, probably 99% of all people out there have a healthier view of sex than I do but these people are open and honest about it while at the same time being accepting of me and my beliefs, encouraging me to heal but not pushing me to go outside my moral boundaries.

Some days are hard because I can get overwhelmed with all of the emotions that go on in a building of 30 women and 2 men ranging from 17 – 60.  Even though everyone is always nice to me I can still be affected by the people around me being negative and petty to each other.  I have gone outside and cried many times.  I’ve even gone back on the happy pills because school can be so stressful.  I don’t like being on the happy pills again, I was very proud of myself for having gotten off them but I’m realizing that my body doesn’t handle stress yet the way it should.  It handles stress better than it did when I was married, way better, but it’s still not back to completely healthy… so happy pills it is.  I even stayed home one day as a “mental health” day and it was totally worth it.  I plan to take three days off a month to help preserve my sanity even though it will lengthen my time at school and cost me about $1400 in overages at the end.  Ugh.

In the end though, it is a crazy, insane kind of world and ultimately I love it.  My hair is blue with purple roots and for the first time in my life I have shaped eyebrows and fake eyelashes.  At school I have friends who love me and hug me and care about me and tell me I’m beautiful and that they’re glad I’m there.  I’ve been able to share my past with some of them and they empathize with me and are very supportive.  My favorite teacher, Kammi, just offered to rent me her spare room and be a part of her family, which I think will be lots of fun.

This group of people – this group of unchurched, largely immoral, profanity professionals loves, respects and accepts me more than any other group I’ve ever been a part of and none of them require me to become like them before being willing to give me their love and affection.

Being around these people both destroys me and builds me back up, but they build me up far more often than they make me cry.

I know I am who and where I am supposed to be.  I know I am doing what I am supposed to do.  Sometimes the being and the doing is hard but the knowing, the knowing makes it all worth it.

 

 

Well then, I have been in beauty school for three months now and will have accumulated 500 hours in about 2 weeks, yay!  I was able to start working on real people (instead of just mannequin heads) at 300 hours, which was the beginning of April, and so far have done 2 perms and about 4 haircuts.  It’s been fun and a little overwhelming at the same time, mostly because they don’t really teach the way I learn, so I’m trying to figure out a lot of things on my own that they may or may not have told me already, lol.  But the customers have been nice and so far they’ve all been happy with the way they look when I leave so that’s a big plus.

I’ve made new friends!  Well, I’m friendly with everyone, that’s just who I am, but some people you connect with easier than others and I’ve found someone I’ve “clicked” with.  Kyle is one of the two guys at school, about 10 years younger than me, tall, good looking and while you wouldn’t know by just looking at him he is happily engaged to his boyfriend and they are getting married in July. I would have never expected that out of everyone at school he would be my closest friend at school and yet he is!

Kyle was the one to put the first “fun” color in my hair back in February – magenta pink with black tips which I absolutely loved – and he accidentally got a lot of the pink dye on my forehead and it wouldn’t come off.  He felt really bad and kept apologizing until I finally just grabbed him and gave him a quick hug and told him not to worry about it and that I loved my hair.

I was a little nervous about hugging him but in the last couple of years since I became single I realized that if I’m going to experience any kind of human touch at all I will have to have to initiate most of it so I became a hugger.  I hugged my Asian family and my friends back in the town I came from as much as I could but I don’t have anybody to hug here in Montana – except my folks and for some reason family doesn’t really count for things like this.  So I made a quick decision to give him a hug and was really relieved that he didn’t look upset afterwards.

Fast forward a few weeks to a Really Bad Day.  I was super stressed out, Beauty School, having mostly late teen and early twenty-something girls is FULL of drama, people talking loudly and lots of high emotions flying around all over the place.  Add to that the fact that I’ve been couch-surfing since October and was struggling with a bit of depression again along with trying to adjust to my new life here in Montana and it was just a really bad day.  I made it through school feeling fragile and ready to cry at the drop of a hat.  After school I posted something on Facebook to my friends about please hug everyone you know, often and randomly because you don’t know when someone is having a hard day and most people really don’t get enough physical affection.

The next morning I walked in the back door to school, which opens into the break room.  Everyone goes there first thing in the morning to put their things in their locker, their lunch in the fridge and hang their coats on the hooks so it was full of girls.  Kyle sees me and in front of  God and everybody he wraps me in a giant bear hug.  He held me for much longer than an “normal” hug, let me go and we separated enough for him to see that I was trying not to cry so he pulled me close and hugged me again, long but not quite as long as the first one.

All of the girls at school were staring at us, apparently this is not how he hugs everyone else and he does a fair amount of hugging because he’s a very friendly guy and just about everybody loves him – or is in love with him, ha, ha.  He is also quite handsome, most of the girls would like to sleep with him and tell him so to his face regularly – but besides not being interested in girls he is committed to his partner of 6 years and just laughs.

I wrote him a little note telling him how much I appreciated – and needed – the hug and that I noticed how he helps other students and the teachers, just a little encouraging note that said I was proud of him for being such a nice guy.  I’ve done similar things before and the recipients usually (not always) say thank you and it’s never mentioned again.  Kyle seemed to go around and show just about everyone important to him.  I know for sure that he showed the owner of the school – who told me later what a nice thing I did in writing the note –  and then Kyle told me that he showed it to his boyfriend and it made him cry.

I’ve never had anyone share my notes with other people before, that was pretty cool.  Because of his reaction to my note I’ve written three more to other students and while they each said thank you and really appreciated the notes it didn’t enable a connection between me and that student like it did with me and Kyle.  I don’t know if it was because they were girls or because Kyle and I have just clicked and I don’t connect as well with them… regardless I’m going to keep writing those encouraging notes and try to write one for everyone by the time I’m done with school

Ever since then he hugs me regularly, pretty much daily and sometimes often more than once a day.  I have become the envy of all the girls who swoon over him, which is entirely a new feeling for me that I’m torn between enjoying and feeling bad about, I’ve never been the girl that other girls are jealous of because of a boy!  And Kyle gives the best hugs, ever.  Even when I was married I never got a hug like Kyle’s from my husband.  Kyle hugs me long and tight, he holds on until I start to pull away.  There is absolutely nothing sexual about his hugs and I feel completely safe in his arms.  He talks to me sometimes and shares stories about his past, his childhood, what was going on in his life when he became homosexual, how some of his family reacted and a few other things that I doubt he tells very many other people.  Sometimes when we hug he tells me he loves me and I say I love him back but again, it’s not at all romantic.

I think that maybe he has never had anyone offer him friendship and affection without strings or sexual joking attached so he probably needs the hugs as much as I do.

We’ve even started messaging each other outside of school occasionally and Kyle said he would go to a movie with me.  I asked if his boyfriend would be okay with that and he laughed and said it was cute that I asked.  He says he’s looking for a boyfriend for me but that it will have to be someone super-special.  The feelings I have for Kyle are pretty much the same kind of love that I have for my best friend from high school.  Deeper than family or marital love; a total, unconditional love between friends.  Kyle’s hugs and friendship have changed my life and made every day at school a little brighter and the hard days easier and I hope that I make his hard days easier too.

I found a word, Cwtch.  It’s Welsh and it means:  A hug that feels like a safe haven.  It’s pronounced like “crutch” except without the “r” so say “cutch”.  Kyle is my Cwtch.  I wish everybody had one and he has inspired me to hug even more people because I know I’m not the only one suffering from lack of physical affection, even in my small sphere of influence.

So I’m going to encourage you too – Go Hug People!  Go be somebody’s Cwtch.  You may never know the difference your hug can make, the life you may actually save by reaching out and touching someone, by hugging them with affection regardless of how “good” of friends you are.  People need to be touched so become a hugger!  Hug hello and hug goodbye.  Tell people you love them, it means you care about them and it doesn’t have to mean anything else.  Be a safe haven for people.  The world needs more Cwtch’s.

Things are going well!  A bit of an overview:

I’m just over halfway done with “Back Class” at school, where it’s all book work and hand-on practice with a mannequin head and no working on paying customers.  So far we’ve learned everything except the actual cutting of hair, which the teacher said she will show us just before we get on the floor.

I made the decision to give up my nail booth at the salon I’ve been at because I just can’t afford it.  I’ve paid $800 for ten weeks of booth rent and have made less than half of it back.  The day I gave the salon owner my notice, planning to vacate the premises this week but she reminded me that I signed a contract requiring me to give two weeks notice so now I owe for two more weeks and I’m out of money…  I cried all morning – not only am I giving up something that is really important to me but now I owe for two more weeks and my only source of income currently is donating plasma.  Ugh.  Turns out that one of my instructors is opening her own salon in May and is willing to rent to me so that’s one option.  I’ve checked with another salon about only working on Saturdays and am waiting to hear back from them so that’s another option…  I’ve also applied at the local movie theater for a part-time, evening job because I love going to movies and I think the hours would be a good fit.  I have an interview Wednesday evening, yay!  And then on Monday I am planning to go to the home health agency my dad works at and apply there as well – I could easily be a personal care aid and do light housekeeping, meal prep, laundry and companionship.  I had a CNA license 15 years ago but I let it expire so I would only be able to do non-licensed care right now but that’s OK, I like helping people.

I did the online dating thing for a month but was over it and cancelled after the first two weeks – since I paid for a month it stayed on for the full month though and those last few days were filled with prayers that nobody would try and contact me, lol!  However, I feel like I made progress, I chatted online with 4 guys AND had one date, a vast improvement over last year when I tried online dating three separate times and only talked to one guy each time with no dates.  Baby steps.  What I find hilarious is the worship leader at church, and possibly the pastor as well, seem to think I’m being “impatient”, lol.  I don’t think they realize that my actual goal in online dating is not so much to get married tomorrow  (and it’s definitely not to get laid) as it is to get comfortable communicating with someone of the male species who just might possibly have an interest in taking me to dinner.  I know I’m damaged in this area and I also know that if I don’t actively work on getting better, the part of my life that deals with romance and intimacy will never ever improve.  At All.  And since I am the ONLY single person in my church and the two guys at school are both married – and one is gay – I don’t have any chance of meeting a single man at either place I spend most of my time, regardless of whether or not he would be interested in buying me food and staring deeply into my eyes… hence the online dating.  And the random, possibly desperate sounding jokes about needing a boyfriend that may be the reason my pastor and worship leader think I’m being impatient.  I’m just trying to get over being petrified but they don’t know me well enough to see beyond what those words would mean coming from an undamaged women’s mouth.

Men are so weird!  😉  Oh and the more Keanu Reeves movies I watch the more I fall in love with him… somehow it’s just easier for me to love men that I know will never love me back, lol, which probably means I’ll be single the rest of my life but now that I’ve survived a loveless marriage I know I’ll be fine, just occasionally whiny about it, ha, ha.

I bought my father a birthday present today, his birthday is in a couple of weeks and I always have the hardest time knowing what to get him because he’s so quiet about what he wants but I think I did pretty good this time!  He plays the guitar and has said a couple of times that he wishes he had a lighter case for his 12-string acoustical guitar – the one he has weighs more than the guitar does all by itself!  So I found the local music store, they had one in stock and I bought it!  Now I just have to find a place to keep it until Dad’s birthday…

Speaking of places to keep things – I am still living with my folks, sleeping on a couch in my Dad’s downstairs office, with just enough floor space next to the couch to keep my two suitcases, two totes and a small storage box.  On top of the totes is my CPAP machine and all the assorted bits of paraphernalia that goes along with everyday life – contact lens solution and cases, the small travel jewelry case that contains a few pieces I brought here with me, gum, cough drops, books, notebooks, pens, a bag I put all of my receipts into, charging cables and the like.  It’s virtually an open “junk drawer” and irritates me to look at it because, somewhat miraculously, I have become a neat and tidy person in my middle aged singleness.  Let me stress that I am soooooo very grateful that my folks let me stay here and haven’t asked for a dime.  I would have been living in my car without their graciousness in housing me and I try my hardest to leave a tiny footprint in their life.  I cart around a laundry basket of food in the trunk of my car to make my school lunches out of and try not leave a mess in the house at any time.  I can tell that it means a lot to my dad to have me here and I love finding bits of time to talk with him and just be around him, I feel like we’re really, finally, starting to connect with each other in a deeper way.  So I feel bad for missing my stuff and my own space… but I do.  I’m ready to find my own place to rent – except that I can’t afford it until I get a job.  <sigh>  My financial aid covers all of my bills like my car payment, insurance, phone, Netflix, etc, but there’s not enough extra to pay for housing so without the kindness of my folks letting me stay with them I would be a dirty, homeless bum right begging showers off the YMCA right now.  This is just another set of dominoes that need to fall in order and everything will be fine in God’s timing…

On a fun note, I’m working my way through Grey’s Anatomy I think that if someone would make a spoof on the show using cosmetologists instead of surgeons it would be super-funny!  But seriously, I think the show is so popular because Patrick Dempsey can do the Man In Romantic Agony face really well and I think deep down every girl wishes a guy would be in Romantic Agony at the thought of not being able to spend his life with her.  I’m only at the beginning of Season 3 and most of Season 2 was spent with Derick and Meredith struggling with their feelings for each other in spite of his decision to “do the right thing” and make it work with his wife.  So far the show has nearly as much sleeping around as Friends did but it addresses some more serious life choice issues as well as some fascinating medical cases.  I’m really enjoying it.

This part of Montana is finally warming up and the falling precipitation has all been rain instead of snow, something I am very thankful for.  The tires on my car were wearing down and I had a noticeable bald spot on the center column of tread on my front tires, something my brother said was an indicator of over-inflation even though they were inflated to what the tire said it should be.  Hmmm…  I had taken a trip to see my best friend from high school and buy nail supplies in her (bigger) city, that was where I had my date that I posted about, and on the trip I was able to see both of my brothers who lived within an hour of my friend and my next older brother and his wife actually bought me a set of four tires from Costco!  I was shocked, amazed and overwhelmed.  I didn’t ask them to do that, I didn’t even hint.  They just offered and I am so grateful!

God is always good and takes excellent care of me through many different people.

What else?  I think that’s about it.  Being on the worship team is going well, school is going well, dating is still non-existent but I’m thinking kinder thoughts about it. My car is running fine, my health is okay, my hair color is no longer the fun magenta that bled all over every piece of fabric it came in contact with and is now a responsible, adult reddish color albeit with some nice black fading on the tips that nobody notices.  The gay guy at school seems to try and find ways for me to touch him by getting pedicures and manicures from me and occasionally touching my shoulder in the hallway and he gives me broad smiles with mischievous winks here and there – and then he ignores me all together.  Did I say men are weird?  They are.  Oh, and I put acrylic on my toenails so I can finally start wearing sandals and not be embarrassed about my toes.  There, now you’re all caught up!

Life is flying by, dang!  Day 11 was January 13th, a Friday.  I will try to summarize…

I sat at my new nail shop allllllll day Friday the 13th with not a single customer.  I finally talked my (step) sister into coming in and letting me give her a full set and then she took me out to dinner and introduced me to a bunch of her friends.

Something I’m learning about (at least this area of) Montana is that going out to eat is more often than not in a bar and drinking is The Thing To Do around here.  We spent probably 5 hours at the bar that night and a few of my sister’s friends were already sauced when we got there… by the end of the night everyone but me was too drunk to drive – I had only consumed one rum and coke, most of one shot of something apple flavored, a sip of two other drinks and 3 Dr. Peppers, with a full meal towards the beginning of all that, lol.  I actually had a great time hanging out with my sister and her friends, even drunk they were great people, happy, friendly, lots of hugs and laughter.  I really enjoyed myself that night and left with a great fondness for each of them.

The next day, Saturday the 14th, I sat at  the nail shop all day again and again, no customers.  And I was out of family to call in and work on for free just for something to do.  Panic starts to set in.  I had just committed to paying for space at the nail salon and had paid the first two weeks up front in cash, leaving me with $100 for the next six weeks… but there wasn’t any walk-in traffic on what is normally the two busiest days of the week.  Granted, it was January (the slowest month) and the weather was below zero so nobody was out and about who didn’t absolutely have to be but I had no other source of income than that spot in the nail salon, my only other skills are secretarial and those jobs don’t happen quickly and require working during school hours. So unless I could find a spot as a Walmart greeter on short notice I had little to no hope of getting any other job at all.  My bills are covered through the end of January but February  is coming quick… what do I do?  Anxiety began to ride the heels of panic.

Sunday the 15th I went to church and hung out at the house, reading a book the rest of the day.  It was a nice, relaxing day and I was happy not to have to do anything…   One of Dad’s friends is the worship leader and he was interested in getting me on the team so he asked me to come to the next worship practice and meet the pastor.  I am so excited!  I have missed being a part of a worship team so much.

Monday the 16th – I have one income option left, Uber.  I had signed up to be an Uber driver for Montana way back in July and I was approved, ready to go, all I had to do was open up the app on my phone and accept rides… so I did.  It happened to be Martin Luther King day and the buses here don’t run on Sundays or holidays so I actually did 17 rides that day in a 12 hour period and made over $100!

Wow, wow, wow!  Monday through Saturday I went out every day, driving for Uber, between 12 – 14 hours a day and for the week I made $616. It was long and boring, I spent most of that time waiting for my next ride and several times there was 3 hours in between rides  – but most of the riders themselves were very nice people and the ones that didn’t make it to the “very nice” category were certainly not difficult at all, more along the lines of “indifferent” to my attempts at small talk.  There was an Irishman from Ireland who said he liked MY accent (I didn’t think I had one, lol) and lots of really nice people who welcomed me to town and answered my questions about the city.  My drunk riders were almost all happy drunks – except for the one attorney who was a sad drunk and told me that he didn’t know anything about being an attorney except what the television and movies showed before he made the choice to go into law and then got stuck in a very sad job where he specializes in divorce and child support.  I felt really bad for him, he was so sad…  But I was never in danger from any of my riders and really enjoyed (most of) their company.

I made enough money to go a long ways towards February’s bills.  Uber isn’t something I want to rely on for my full income but in this time period of waiting for the financial aid to kick in it is a perfect job and my stress level went waaaaay down.

Saturday morning the 21st I did go to worship practice, I slept in a wee bit and then went to  the second half of praise and worship practice – just to listen.  I met the pastor and we talked as a group a bit and then the pastor offered me access to the piano in the basement to practice whenever I wanted to, more or less.  I just have to contact him first so he can let me into the church.  After our talk I played the piano for an hour and a half and it felt so wonderful!  I’d been without a piano to play since probably July.  More stress gone…

Sunday the 22nd I went to church with my folks again and the pastor blew me away with his sermon.  The previous week I had thought the message typical and rather unremarkable but this week he talked about placing relationships first when reaching out to others.  His statement “We need to stop trying to clean the fish before we catch them.”  really resonated with me and put into Montana-style words something I have believed for a long, long time.  I can commit to this church wholeheartedly.  More stress gone…

Monday the 23rd school started and let me tell you, this first week has been crazy!  Trying to adjust to waking up at 6:30 in the morning as opposed to 8:30 is rough.  It didn’t help that Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I went out and drove for Uber again for several hours trying to add to my pay-the-bills fund but because of it I have spent this first week of school being so tired that sometimes I’m afraid I will fall asleep while reading the textbook in class, ugh!  Fortunately it sounds like the financial aid might kick in sooner than I was told, I hope so…

The school has lots of students (maybe 30 girls and one married man, lol) and not very much space. Like, I can’t even bring my purse because there’s no place to store it while I’m in class… On top of the 30 or so existing students there are 9 girls in my class of newbies.  Everyone in the entire school is very nice, although some are a little crazy – but I suspect that goes with the territory, ha, ha!  The dress code is black shirts and black tops so all of my nice, professional wardrobe is of no use to me now, except on Fridays (like today) when we can wear jeans and other clothing.  There are two textbooks we learn out of and each student got a duffel bag/kit of supplies, including our very own mannequin head!  On Tuesday five of us newbies decided to carpool from the bigger town we live in to the smaller town the school is in an hour away.  Each of us will drive one week at a time and that brings my monthly gas bill down from almost $400 a month to about $75.  More stress gone…

On Tuesday a total stranger found my ad for nail services on Craigslist and scheduled an appointment online for a pedicure with gel polish tonight, Friday night, and she loved it and plans on telling her friends!  The four girls I carpool with are interested to coming to me to get their nails done and they will show their co-workers and refer me to them as well.  AND some of my Montana sister’s friends are interested in coming to me… my nail business could get started and take off big time this way!

God has been soooooo good to me in this move.  I feel like it was a true leap of faith, not having much of a plan, no immediate source of income, no housing arranged, no job arranged…  I have often looked back and thought, “What on earth did you do girl?  Why did you think this was a good idea?”  but God has met me every step of the way and proven to me every day that this was His idea and He is providing for me, just like He always has, just like He always will.

I am so grateful.

Well, well, well…  I actually did it, I moved to Montana!

Day 1:  Driving.  Lots of driving.  However this time I downloaded Spotify and signed up for the free month trial of their premium service that lets you download unlimited songs to play when you’re offline and it made a HUGE difference in the trip.  I somehow managed to get there a half hour before the map said I should.  Oops…  I got to my folks house, we visited for a bit and  then I go to sleep on the (very narrow) couch in the living room upstairs.

Day 2:  I drove the hour or so to the town with the school, talked to a teacher and confirmed that I am indeed signed up and ready to start on the 23rd.  The financial aid guy was out so they said he would call me.  They also told me about a ride-share program in the bigger city my folks live in which would make it feasible for me to live there instead of in the little town where the school is.  Thoughts start to bubble in my head…

I then stopped at 5 nail salons looking for a job.  Nothing.  Zip.  Nada.  This little tiny town was nearly dead as far as nails were concerned.  Huh.  So then I go to two employment agencies and make an appointment for an interview with one, take the application of the other and turn in a separate application at a restaurant.  I leave a message at the homeless shelter I had pegged as my last – and only – hope for housing close to the school and then hit up the local Salvation Army office to see if they have any resources available to me.  No job, no housing either.  Huh.  I look up homeless shelters in the bigger city and put one on my list of places to check out the next day.  I head back to my folks place knowing that it was unreasonable to expect to find housing and a job in one day but I am still a bit disappointed.  A sense of urgency sets in because it was 13 below that day and no matter how determined I am to make this work that’s just way too cold to live in my car…

I get to the house and my dad’s like “Sis, let  me show you my downstairs computer room”.  Ummm… OK, I’ve been there before, maybe he’s changed it or something?  We go downstairs, it’s him, my step-mom (who I call mom) and me.  He says “Would this work?” and points to the (wider) couch in his computer room.  I shoot a quick look at Mom because she has made it clear she really doesn’t want me to live there and she’s in agreement that I can stay “for temporary”  or until my student aid kicks in and I can get my own place.

Wow!  That was totally and completely unexpected and I am so blown away!  I say thank you over and over again and sleep on the downstairs couch that night.  (It was so much more comfortable than the upstairs one!)

Day 3:  Housing worries are gone for the immediate future, now I just need to find a job.  Craigslist only has two nail salon postings so I call the first one and set up an appointment with Mary to see her space.  It’s a booth rental, something I overlooked in the posting but was what I wanted to do originally when I thought about moving to Montana before I decided to go to school full-time.  (Booth rental means I pay a set amount every week and provide all of my own supplies but keep 100% of my earnings.  Commission means I get a percentage of my earnings but they provide all the supplies.)  Mary is very nice, I like her a lot.  She sounds like a good business woman and has excellent communication skills.  Her space is reasonable according to my research, it’s $80 a week for the first four weeks, $100 a week for the two weeks after that and then $125 every week thereafter.

I’m nervous.  That seems like a lot of money right now when my funds are so limited but I can totally set my own hours, work late into the night after school and take time off whenever I need to.  It’s the start of my own salon working out of someone else’s building.  There are so many positives here and the only negative is that I have no existing clientele here and with it so cold and snowy it will be hard to get walk-ins for a while.

I commit to renting her space.  God has provided for me so far, He will continue to do so.

Day 4:  I drive the 7 hours back to where I came from for my younger daughter’s 20th birthday.  I tried not to speed this trip and arrived right about when I should have.  I took my daughter to her favorite seafood restaurant for her birthday since her father had claimed dinner on her actual birthday. We had a good time and I realized that we have celebrated her birthday at that same restaurant for the last three years so that was pretty cool.  I went back to my friend’s house that I had stayed with since October to spend the night.

Day 5 and 6:  One of the biggest reasons I came back as early as I did was to go donate plasma and get my second donation in a week (which earns the most money).  The donation center was closed!  Well there goes $50 I was counting on…  Crap.  And then it snowed and snowed and snowed.  My car did just fine in the snow and I know how to drive in it so I thought I could drive for Uber (since I’m all signed up) and it should be busy with the bad weather but nooooo… I’m signed up for Uber in Montana and to switch between locations takes 2 – 3 weeks.  Another opportunity to make money lost.  In the end I took my friend to get her first tattoo and then we stayed home and watched a lot of movies.

Day 7:  My younger daughter’s actual birthday.  I went to the mini storage where they had a sign at the entry saying something about due to inclement weather they have plowed access to the units but if I cross the berm and get stuck they weren’t going to get me out.  Allrighty then, seems a little unfriendly but in I go.  And their version of “plowing access” to each unit shows they must have worked for the government at some point in time.  One of my two units was in an area that hadn’t been plowed at all and I followed the ruts left by someone else.  A worker was there and he said “Don’t get stuck”.  Gee thanks.  I get what I need from that unit and then go to the other.  For this one a plow had come one time and plowed a path down the center of a very large lane between two buildings.  It had snowed after the plow came so on top of where it had been cleared was another 2 inches or so of fresh snow.  I obediently stay on the path and wade through 3 – 4 inches of snow and water slush.  I had about an hour to sort through what I could and move things into my car.

I thought I made good time but with the weather I was still 10 minutes late to having lunch with my older daughter who said “That’s OK, I’ve come to expect it.  Seriously?  We’ve been having meals together for over a year now and frequently I’m there way before her, saving a seat and waiting for her to show up and she’s usually on time.  Maybe a quarter of the time I was late but apparently that’s all she remembers.

I thought we had a pretty good lunch, we talked about all the usual things we talk about.  I asked her if she had conveyed my offer of friendship to her future step-mother and she said yes but didn’t have an answer for me and the conversation moved on.  I ask questions about her life and she gives me short answers that don’t encourage follow-up questions.  She doesn’t ask me anything about my life so I tried to volunteer that I found a place to work and she says “I saw that.  I stalk your other Facebook page sometimes”.

Why won’t she just ask me what she wants to know?

I ask her if she’d like to be friends on my new page.  Some background here – I created the second page after I left her father so that I would have a safe place to express my feelings (hopefully) without hurting hers and her father’s.  Her father unfriended me from my original page right away when I did that (even though we were still officially trying to work things out and stay together at that time) but she didn’t unfriend me and while I stopped posting things on that page I use it to catch glimpses of what she’s doing, even though she doesn’t hardly post anything.  She didn’t say yes.  In fact she said she was thinking of quitting Facebook altogether because she never posts anything.

That doesn’t really answer my question…

While I puzzle over her non-answer we have more conversation and then I realize something.  I know she tells her father everything – or nearly everything – that we talk about.  If I give her access to my  new page will she show it to him?  Now to be fair, I try not to post things that are really detailed about my life.  I mostly do a bunch of memes that speak to me, Snapchat pictures and a few, general updates about my life.  But it’s my personal space that I feel comfortable in, knowing he can’t see the things I mark for “friends only” and I don’t see any reason to change that right now.  I tell her “If your father wants to be my friend on Facebook he can ask me, I just don’t want to be stalked”.  She looked at me quizzically and shrugged and the conversation moved on.  We said goodbye, she left to go shopping with her soon-to-be stepmother and I left to have birthday coffee with my younger daughter.

Birthday coffee was fun, she brought a few friends and we hung out for a bit and then they left and I went to buy nail supplies from my Vietnamese sister’s supply shop.  It was great to see her again and she said the next time I’m in town to let her know early and she and her other sister will take me out to eat.  Way cool!

Then it’s off to dinner with my sister, we went to a pizza place we had never been at and in the middle of it my ex called me.  Which was the subject of my last post.  ‘Nuff said.

Day 8:  I intend to go donate plasma one more time to get $20 because every little bit helps, right?  But it took me longer to load up my car than I expected, I’m not sure it ever did stop snowing so the roads were terrible and I just ran out of time.  So not a single one of the opportunities to make money panned out for me on this trip.  Not cool.  I stopped by my old salon and gave them a thumb drive with all the brochures and documents I had created for them on it, got lots of hugs and then said goodbye to the people in the neighboring businesses that I had become friends with.

I have a quick lunch with another friend and then leave town.  The snow had become so bad that two passes are closed, forcing me to take a road I’ve never gone on before.  I probably shouldn’t have left town at all but I couldn’t handle staying, especially after the conversation with my ex the night before.

Most of the way there was so much snow on the road that I could barely tell where the road was at all.  At one point I came across an older couple who had awkwardly “parked” their minivan in a snowbank on the side of the road.  The snow was so deep it came up to the hood of their car and they went so far into it that they were buried all the way to the driver’s door.

The good news is that they were fine.  The bad news is that when I stopped to check on them I drove my car to the side of the road.  The sloped side of the road.  Where my car slid into the giant snowbank and promptly got stuck.  No good deed goes unpunished, eh?

They said they had already called a tow truck and that a sheriff’s officer was on his way back.  I try to get my car out myself.  The (very nice) officer tries to help me, then he gets in my car and tries to drive it out.  Ultimately we just got it stuck deeper.  I overhear the officer say the tow truck is two hours out.  I’m really starting to panic because I can’t afford a tow truck and I really have to pee.  Yes, I have finally come to realize that I don’t actually have enough money to pull off this crazy plan to move to Montana as it is and now I have to pay for a tow truck?  Aye, yi, yi…

I sit and read until the tow truck arrives, trying to take my mind off the fact that I’m screwed and I still have to pee.

The tow truck shows up, the nice officer worked me a special deal of $50 because they’re already there for the other couple and it will be easy to pop me out of the snow bank.  I had a tangent memory that resulted in me realizing that my insurance should pay for the tow! I’ve never had to be towed before so I didn’t even think of it, thank you Jesus!  They got me out of the snow, took my info and I didn’t have to pay a dime so I go on my merry way, still having to pee.

I thought I could make it to the next town but in the end I found a nice pull-out that had been plowed for some historical signs and fortunately nobody drove by while I was parked…

When I finally made it to my folk’s house I had been on the road for 13 hours and 45 minutes.  The roads were beyond horrible and I should never have gone but it was such a good feeling to know I had overcome the road placed before me.  I got this.

Day 9:  I run some errands, pick up some more stuff for my new work place, go have a little meeting with Mary and come home and work on the computer until midnight creating business cards and setting up a free online scheduling app with all my services and prices, etc.

Day 10:  I take everything to my new salon and set it up.  Mom comes in and I give her a fill and suddenly it is 6:30 pm and I am tired!  I realize I am also sick, catching a head cold.  Too many late nights, lots of stress and skipped meals.  The stress increases as I realize I have $100 left to live on AND drive back and forth to school for the next 6 weeks.  Dear God, please bring me customers at my new salon!

I have a plan.  My work hours at the salon will be by appointment only 6 – 9 pm on weekdays and 10 am – 7 pm on Saturdays.  I have contacted the plasma center here to transfer my file so I can donate in Montana.  That will take 7 – 10 days but when it’s approved that’s another $70 a week.  If nothing else that’s gas money.  I also have just over one week until school starts and I’m good to drive for Uber here so I will be available as much as possible to drive and if someone calls for nails I will stop taking riders.  Once school starts I will drive for Uber after school and possibly on Sundays and hopefully that will be enough to get me through the next 6 weeks.

Sometimes life needs to change so drastically that it requires great courage and a leap of faith.  That’s exactly where I am.

I am almost ready to move!  I am excited, nervous, annoyed, frantic, happy and going crazy all at the same time.  Hopefully by the end of August everything will haven fallen into place and I can go. This is a game-changer…

No more working 55+ hours and 6 days a week.  I’m so tired of not being able to do anything but work, eat and sleep!

No more spending nearly every waking minute with my Vietnamese family.  I still love them all dearly and am more grateful than words can express for the love and care they have shown me over this last year, they truly scooped me up and healed me with their acceptance as I was recovering from my divorce and I’ll never forget that.  Now, by the way, my Vietnamese family consists of about 20 people as some of their friends and family members also love me and claim me as their family too!  In many ways they are just so amazing and I’m sad to leave them.

But the Asian culture is very different from what I’m used to and I’ve hit a wall in certain areas – I just can’t do it anymore and it breaks my heart.  Fair warning, I’m going to do a little venting here but please read it knowing that I would still fight to the death for any one of them…

With the four siblings who initially took me in, there is a lot of anger, raised voices and unfair/unfounded accusations whenever they are upset about something they perceive that I have done wrong.  Very rarely have I actually done anything wrong but because English is hard our communication is not always the greatest and what they see or hear is filtered through their cultural background and not usually interpreted correctly in regards to me because I have an entirely different cultural background that they don’t comprehend most of the time.

One example is that any time I speak softly to a customer (or to the other white girl nail tech we had for 6 weeks) they automatically assume I am saying bad things about them.  Soooooo not true!  It’s a salon, you overhear a lot of conversations and most the time people are just telling me things they don’t want everyone to hear and repeat.  Occasionally I’m explaining to a customer (or the new, white girl nail tech) the beliefs and superstitions of my Vietnamese family – things like why they don’t let customers put their purses on the floor, why they offer food to Buddha, why they just did something that doesn’t make sense…  The rest of the time I’m telling them something personal about my life that I don’t want everyone to hear and repeat.  I know so many people’s secrets about their boyfriends, husbands, girlfriends, children, parents, finances, jobs, you name it and trust me, not everything should be spoken loudly and some things I hear shouldn’t be spoken at all.  But I NEVER speak badly of my Vietnamese family and it hurts my heart that they would even think I would do such a thing.

Another example, they have accused me of trying to get bigger tips by taking my time with my “favorite” customers and going too quickly with the “shop” customers (walk-ins and other employee’s normal customers who couldn’t get their usual nail tech that day).  Also not true.  A great many of “my” customers are elderly and have thick toenails, tons of dead skin, cuticles with a Napoleon complex that are trying to conquer the entire toenail and calluses that could remain undamaged from everything short of a nuclear bomb.  They. Just. @#!&* Take. Longer.  And because I’m really good with the aging and very kind and patient with those who have dementia I have a lot of women who bring me their mothers and a whole slew of retired ladies who send me their husbands and then give me good tips because I am so gracious to their loved one.  I have a soft spot for the elderly, what can I say?  I don’t take longer because I’m trying to get bigger tips, I do it because it needs to be done and because I take the time to do it well people come back and request me.  It’s not about the money but I’ve been yelled at four times now for it and they refuse to accept my explanation that some people’s feet take longer, they keep telling me to stop trying to get bigger tips by taking more time.

Also, their view of how to treat The Boss seems to be much closer to The Boss is The King.  Therefore trying to bring clarity to a situation, by explaining something, is usually seen as disrespectful because I’m correcting The Boss.  So how the hell do I communicate about anything if I’m not allowed to speak and if they won’t listen to what I do manage to say?

One final vent for today…  I keep – entirely on accident – running into cultural landmines.  The first one I did they thought was funny, I gave daisies to one of the girls for her birthday, only to find out that daisies are used to pray to Buddha for the dead at the temple so they’re the equivalent of funeral flowers.  Oops! My bad!  But then I hit a couple that they got upset over, told me about and quickly cooled down because they acknowledge that I didn’t know what it was I did.  This last one, however, was a doozy!  I had a problem with my service ticket not matching the book we wrote all of our charges down in.  I had written $47.50 on my ticket and they wrote $35 in the book.  I had always been told the purpose of the book and the tickets was to make sure everything was correct and if I had a question that I should just ask them.  So I did.  Except the one guy I needed to ask was sitting with most of the other guys from the shop and they all got involved.  Once they thought they understood what I was saying I wasn’t allowed to say another word and in the end I was told the book was right and to stop worrying about it.  I went and double-checked the book and it was not right so – in the only expression of frustration I’ve displayed in the entire time I’ve been there – I tossed my ticket book into the little alcove where they were kept.  Now I did not throw it, I did not slam it down on the desk, the ticket book is probably two inches by six inches and I was holding it by one end.  All I did was toss it so that it spun around a time or two before it landed and as I tossed it I said “It’s still not right” and went to sit down, accepting the fact that I was shorted $12 on that service.  The youngest girl in the shop, one of their daughters, goes outside and tells the oldest brother that I threw the ticket book and all the guys come boiling back into the shop and I get this huge lecture – in front of customers – about why did I throw the ticket book?  Why was I making such a big deal about $5?  How could I treat them this way after they had been so nice to me?  How could I be so rude after they had taken me in and treated me like family?  Why was I so disrespectful after they spent so much money on me by taking me out to dinner, buying me coffees all the time and even paying for me to go to Las Vegas with them?  O.M.G.  I was in complete and utter shock, I knew I had done a cultural no-no but couldn’t figure out why tossing my ticket book had such an effect on them.  I apologized over and over again to no avail.  Two days later we had an hour-and-a-half meeting after work where they explained that to throw down your ticket book is a huge insult and sign of disrespect in their culture.  Apparently it’s like quitting and demanding your wages all at the same time in the most angry way possible.  I apologized yet again but this time was not given any grace for not knowing what I did was wrong in their culture – it was still completely my fault and I had to be punished for it – although the guy who lectured me in front of the customers did apologize for not taking it into the back room, apparently that was the only thing he was at fault for…

That meeting, by the way, was when we lost the new white girl tech who had been hanging on by a thread for the entire six weeks she’d been with us.  She’d been wanting to quit from the get-go because their teaching style is so fierce and their expectations were far too high for someone who just came out of beauty school but I kept talking her into staying until that day.  The way they were so angry and yelling at me because of that incident was too much for her.  She started to cry and they asked her why she was crying and she said it was because they were being so mean to me and then they got angry with her, saying they weren’t being mean to me, they love me like family and were treating me as such.  Huh.  Lucky me to be loved like that…  But in the end she left work that day and never came back.

Truth be told, that day I wanted to leave too.

I think that was when I realized that as much as I love these people, it’s time to move on.  It’s time to go forward with my own life, to build a world for myself and not just live in theirs.  To begin reaching for the stars and trying to see some of my dreams become reality.  And in that moment I made the decision to go back to beauty school and get my full-on cosmetology license followed immediately by my instructors license.  That way I will have the knowledge necessary to open a learning salon where the newly licensed beauty professional can come and work for a year or two in order to gain the speed and quality of service necessary to secure a good job in a professional salon – or even open their own shop.

Just a little FYI for you – right now, when you graduate nail school you have to find a salon owner who is willing to put up with your mistakes and tolerate your learning curve knowing you might lose many of their customers in the process.  It’s not an easy thing to do, trust me – I’ve been there, and when you do finally get a job you’re not allowed to work on very many customers.  So the owner turns down customer after customer while you sit there twiddling your thumbs because you’re not good enough…

Seriously, it’s hard for the newly licensed to succeed in the nail industry!  Which is why I wanted to open a learning nail salon – but the more I think about it the more I want to make it available to every newly licensed beauty professional; those licensed in cosmetology, esthetics and nail techs.  Therefore, I need a cosmetology and teaching license of my own so that I can be a mentor to every group and I am going back to school to get those licenses and then I will pursue opening a learning salon.

Life is just one bold adventure after another and all I have to do is keep putting one foot in front of the other, who knows where I’ll end up?  But it will be a good place, of that I’m sure!

Sooo… I’ve gone back to receiving professional counseling, surprise, surprise.  I know some of you are thanking God, because I really needed to a long time ago, and truth be told I’m glad to get back to working on the contents of my dark, little closet again.

First though, let me update you on the good things going on in my life – because even as screwed up as I am inside there is still a lot of sunshine these days:

I should graduate from beauty school next month and be able to take the state boards to become a licensed Nail Technician, yay!  I am soooooo looking forward to that so I can quit my day job at the call center and start working in a salon.  I feel like I have a pretty decent customer base already who will follow me wherever I go so I’m pretty confident about my ability to make a good living in my new career.

After admitting to my husband that I view all of his (very rarely expressed) physical affection as having sexual strings attached and therefore don’t want any affection whatsoever anymore because I don’t feel like he is affectionate because he loves me but because he loves sex – he voluntarily offered to be affectionate ONLY for the entire month of March.  I did not even think of asking him to do this, it was entirely his own idea and I have to say it impressed me very much.  Today is March 25th and he has honored his commitment completely AND been spontaneously romantic as well as physically affectionate with no sex attached.  Mind blown and I have to say that my respect for him has really grown throughout this month.

My youngest daughter broke up with her bad boyfriend shortly after I wrote about it, so that’s older news but very good news.  <happy dance!>

I get to go to the ocean!  The first weekend of April I am going to the coast with my two best friends for four nights and five days and we are just going to have girl time, fly kites, eat whatever we want to and just visit.  I absolutely cannot wait!

As I type this I am eating not just one but two banana popsicles.  Banana popsicles make me happy so this is the appropriate category to put this information, lol!

I’ve just finished a decent sized transcription job, had an offer of another – HUGE – transcription job and I finished my taxes and will receive a refund in spite of the many tax breaks that were lost this year!  All very good news.  😀

Okie dokie, so back to me having feelings, or rather, me NOT having feelings where I should be having feelings.  My counselor asked me about a number of hypothetical situations today such as “If you asked your daughter to clean the kitchen how would she respond?” and I said “Ooooohhhhhhkkkkkkaaaaayyyyy” with a great deal of eye rolling and much exasperation.  And my counselor said “How would that make you feel?”  and I gave a number of answers such as “Like she’s not going to do it” and other things that reflected how I thought my daughter would feel.  Again, my very patient counselor says “But how would that make YOU feel?” and darned if I didn’t know right off the top of my head.  I have trained and conditioned myself for so long not to acknowledge feelings being disrespected, being used, being smothered, being stepped on and so forth because I thought it was the “right” thing to do.  That there was obviously something wrong with me for feeling those negative things.  That it was the Good Christian thing to do.  That I was sinning if I felt those things.

I’m 40 now and I’ve built such a thick wall around feeling anything that might hurt me that it’s hard for me to “feel” anything anymore because the list of things that might hurt me has grown to encompass good things too.  Caring about you might hurt me.  Enjoying something might lead to it being taken away.  Being good at doing something is devastating when nobody else appreciates my one talent.  Loving and being loved kills me over and over again…  So I put my feelings away.  I bottled them up, put the bottle in a trunk, put the trunk in a hole in the ground, planted a tree in the hole and built a fence around the tree.  I dug a moat around the fence, filled it with piranhas and alligators and put the whole thing in the middle of an impassable desert surrounded by mountains a million miles high.  Indiana Jones has nothing on me, baby!

But there have been times, especially in the last few years, that I’d like to feel something, anything.  I’d really like to experience happy feelings but I’ll settle for pain in the meantime.  Now I know why people cut themselves “just to feel something”.  I’ve never cut myself purposefully like that but I came to realize in this last year that I do self-mutilate in a very subtle fashion – I pick at scabs and any other bumps on my skin until they become scars.  I pick at hangnails and peel my fingernails and toenails down to the quick.  Gross, I know, but there it is.  The only form of self-mutilation I could get away with as a kid who had a nurse for a mother and I never stopped after I got out from under her thumb.  Just to feel.

My homework, you could say, for this week from my counselor is to find a list of words that identify feelings and then try to write down different situations this week at work, school or home and how they make me feel and to use the identifying words that I find.  I think I’ve found a good source at this Wikipedia page:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contrasting_and_categorization_of_emotions  and will be referencing that a lot this week.

Also, one of my best friends has introduced me to the “Dress Your Truth”(?) video series and it’s been helpful in identifying my personality type and the personality types of my family, which I think will be very helpful in the days to come.  The author calls it “Energy Profiling” and it includes personality profiling and body type profiling for a complete package.  Some of the terms she uses make me slightly uneasy because of the way I was raised but it actually makes quite a bit of sense and presents each Type as a complete package, which I like.  Google it and check it out if you want, it’s been rather enlightening.

I’m going to do my hair (this time that means I’m going to relax my perm instead of color it) and then I’m going to bed.  Thanks for reading.

Fair warning, today I am on the down side of life.  

I did a full set of sculpted pink and white nails on a fellow student at the beauty school today and they didn’t look very good.  Now for those of you who don’t know, sculpted pink and whites are hard to master and I’ve only done two sets previously so I’m not surprised that they looked Really Bad – but she shouldn’t have been surprised either.  To make it worse she kept saying ouch and telling me to be careful when I was using the dremel to shape the nails after I had applied them.  I was honestly trying my hardest not to hurt her but apparently it wasn’t enough.  When I finally finished (after 3 hours) all I wanted to do was burst into tears and run from the room.  To me, it felt like she thought I was hurting her on purpose, that I did a bad job on purpose and she was sorry she offered to be my guinea pig.  Also, I’m fairly certain she’s going to file them off as soon as she can tomorrow.

The world is full of people who will make me feel the same way when I do their nails, how will I ever manage to have my own nail business someday?

And that set my thoughts off into a bad downward spiral:

1.  We owe the state over $4,000 in taxes from 2007 & 2008 and they are going to garnish our wages soon so we might lose our house this year.
2.  Speaking of the house, we are three months behind in our mortgage payments because I lost my job in September and didn’t get another job until November so there’s another $3,000 we owe that we don’t have.
3.  The beauty school wants me to start paying for my tuition (the verbal agreement when I started was “pay what you can when you can” and the lady – who isn’t there anymore – who signed me up knew I had just lost my job and wouldn’t be able to pay anything for a while) and the school might say I can’t go to any more classes until I’ve paid them.  My total bill is $4,000.
4.  Our power bill is over $1800 because we haven’t been able to pay the power company very much since September when I lost my job.  They put us on a payment schedule of $185/mo until March because it’s winter and we have children in the house so legally they have to work with us without shutting the power off but we keep adding more than that to it every month so what’s going to happen in April?
5.  There’s another $5,000 in medical bills floating around out there, unpaid, because of my youngest daughters post-concussion trips to the ER for migraines…  Can anyone else hear Bankruptcy calling our names?  Either that or it’s a winning lottery ticket…
6.  I’m a bad mom.  I just am.
7.  I’m a horrible human being.  My husband has made all these changes, really super-huge changes, for me over the last year and I just wish he would go away because I don’t want to be married anymore.
8.  I’m a 40-year-old failure because I work at a call center.  This has got to be one of the least prestigious jobs I have ever had.  Receptionist is even sounding pretty good to me right now.
9.  I’m selfish and manipulative and wicked and evil…

Oh wait, was that my mom’s voice I just heard?

Crap.

I’m letting my emotions run wild because a dead woman’s voice is still in my head.

Am I going crazy?

Crappity, crap, crap, crap, crap.

I pray all the time for God to change my heart because I KNOW mine is not right.  I cry and weep and beg God to save me, to fix me, to give me His heart for other people.  To restore my faith and renew my passion for Him.

Instead I feel myself sinking beneath the waves once again.

God I believe, help my unbelief!

I’m finding that the hardest thing to believe right now is that I am lovable and that I am savable…

So what is in my life that is good right now?

1.  I have made one good friend and a lot of fun friends at my new job.
2.  The cosmetology students at the beauty school really seem to like me, one of them even gave me a completely unsolicited hug before he left for the day today.  (Don’t get any crazy ideas, he’s right about the same age as my girls.)
3.  I still have my two best friends.
4.  There’s a new nail tech teacher at the beauty school who really knows his stuff and I’m looking forward to learning from him for the second half of my schooling.  Provided, of course, that I can keep attending classes…
5.  I get to sleep in almost every day because of my new job schedule.  I work four 10’s from 11:30 am to 10 pm and love it because this schedule takes advantage of my body’s natural sleep cycle.
6.  I joined the gym at work and my goal is to use the treadmill, elliptical and/or bicycle at least twice a week to start on my goal of losing 20 pounds.
7.  My new schedule at work gives me a four-day weekend every-other weekend, yay!  I want to take some quick “vacation” trips to the ocean and other fun places this year.
8.  I’ve set up a little nail station in my home and have had several people come over and let me do their nails.
9.  I’ve stopped gaining weight and have been holding steady for almost two months now.

So nine good things to counter nine bad things.  I’m not dead so that’s another good thing, eh?  Life goes on and every day is a chance to start over, there’s another one for the good side…

I guess that the moral of the story is that I have more baggage than a Greyhound bus full of musicians but God has brought me to this place where He’s thrown all my luggage off the bus and He is helping me sort through it before allowing me to travel any further.  I don’t like it but recognize that the process is necessary.

If you pray, please pray for me.  A lot.  If you even think you might have somebody like me in your life please love on them without any strings attached, they need it.

OK, so maybe it started in August and ran over a bit into October…  Here’s the rundown, and my apologies for not having blogged for so long but I think you’ll understand:

August 27th – I turn 40.  (Not entirely bad news, it’s just a number, right?)

August 30th – Our washer and dryer died.

September 1st – Our hot water heater caught on fire and needed replacing.

September 4th – I lost my job and signed up for unemployment.

September 9th – We are not eligible for food stamps.

September 13th – GOOD NEWS!   I signed up to attend a beauty school’s Nail Technician program with my husband’s somewhat skeptical blessing.  I’m tired of the office life!  I have wanted to be a Nail Technician since I was in my early 20’s but the money and the time to go to beauty school never made it to my house at the same time so to make money I did what I was best at, answering phones and office work… for 20 years…  and now the opportunity of a lifetime, a miracle has come my way!

 September 16th – MORE ABOUT THE SAME GOOD NEWS!  My first day “back to school” and it was soooo weird after over 20 years.  I brought my paper, pen and pencil and I was so excited that my girls made fun of me and I didn’t care a bit!   I should graduate sometime in January of 2014 so it’s roughly four-and-a-half months and almost every day so far has flown by – I go home feeling like I had FUN at school, I really love what I’m learning!

 September 20th – My unemployment claim was denied.  (I am appealing it.)

September 21st – Our oldest daughter turned 18 and we had this HUGE party planned for over 3 months with 10 people invited… guess who spent money, lots and lots of money, that we didn’t have?

September 24th – I lost my phone.

October 2nd – My car died.  Dead.  Seized engine dead.  Over-sized paper-weight dead.  Tacky Red Neck Lawn Art Dead.  Walk to school and be late and then wonder how I’m going to get home dead.  Dead dead.

You know, sometimes so many bad things happen in such a short amount of time that all you can do is sit back and giggle hysterically.  That’s pretty much where I’ve been.  To tell the truth I’m kind of sitting back wondering what else could go wrong and thinking I might want to grab a soda and popcorn to watch the next disaster go down…

But in spite of all that something really good that has happened through all this.  I’m actually  very happy right now, strangely happy right now given all the above circumstances.  I don’t think I need my depression pills any more kind of happy, weird huh?  Somehow, for the first time since I was a child I 100% believe that God is fully in control and everything is going to be OK.  Not Never-Going-To-Have-Another-Problem-For-The-Rest-Of-My-Life-OK but All-My-Needs-Will-Be-Met-And-Taken-Care-Of-OK.  I actually have more peace and trust in God more now than I did when I had my job and was making good money!  Have you ever heard “Blessings” by Laura Story?  I feel like I’m living it…  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CSVqHcdhXQ  I KNOW everything is going to be OK and I haven’t felt that way for a long time.  I guess if this is what it took to get me to this amazing, emotionally stable place then I wish it would have happened earlier!

What my life looks like now:
I’m looking for a job I can do after school and on weekends.
I’m trying to get my Pampered Chef business to make us some money.  (I had two shows last month, whoo hoo!)
I’m wondering how I’m going to make up the two house payments and numerous utility bills that we’re behind on.
I’m driving the car my nearby best friend is selling me on payments.
I found a cheaper phone plan and my entire family has new phone numbers <aggravating> so now I don’t have to find my other phone, lol!
We replaced the washer and dryer with used ones but unfortunately had to buy a new hot water heater.
Starting next week I’ll be ready to give manicures and pedicures to paying customers at school now so hopefully I will start getting tips!

Life is life.  God is God.  God is bigger than Life.  Life is going to be OK.   🙂