Starting a Family

This is a continuation of my story, which starts with me leaving my life in San Diego and going home to Rural USA to start completely over in my 30s. (Start here if you want the whole story). I am writing this story in a memoir fashion, and sharing in small segments (usually once a week). I talk about unhealthy relationships, my struggles with defaulting to unhealthy coping mechanisms, marriage, becoming a step-mom, struggling with infertility, pregnancy loss, financial stress, job stress, and more. I hope that by sharing my stories of struggle with these things, that some of the lessons I have learned might offer you comfort if you’re dealing with similar things. I also wanted to note that my life is certainly not full of doom and gloom, and there are loads of fun and good things I could share, as well, even amidst these struggles. I’m simply sharing the hard stuff with this series to be transparent, to find healing for myself by finally talking about this time of my life, and hopefully this will inspire and help change at least one person’s life for the better.

Peace, love, and rock and roll,

Ginger


My husband and I had decided to start a family shortly after we got married, because we were both closer to 40 than 30, and didn’t want to wait too long and miss out on the opportunity to have kids together. I think we just assumed it would just happen. Both of us were relatively healthy, so we didn’t think anything of it. But after several months of trying with no success, we realized that the clock was ticking, and it might be time to seek some medical advice.

Let’s rewind and set the mood for this point in the story. I was extremely frustrated with the dynamic in my home, unable to get control over the drama that was constant, stressed and uncertain about running my small business (I might share more about this journey later, but for now the details aren’t relevant), and now I had become significantly depressed about not being able to get pregnant. I was also struggling with making like-minded friends, finding things to do in our small town, and I pretty much felt like I was stuck in a gerbil wheel, just going through the motions and trying not to completely lose my $%^*.

So naturally I stopped, evaluated, and changed my course, right? NOPE! I trudged forward full-speed ahead and went right back to my old habits. When it got too overwhelming, I drank. So of course this helped, and everything started turning around for me, right? Hindsight really is 20/20, isn’t it? NOPE! I started feeling super sluggish and not myself, so hoping I was pregnant, I went to the doctor to find out that I had mono. So I basically laid in bed for a few months, feeling even more depressed, wallowing in my misery.

My rocker look – I was actually in a 80s rock band at the time all this was happening, too.

I eventually got over mono, but everything else kind of stayed the same until that fall when… I finally got a positive pregnancy test! My husband and I were so excited, and everyone we cared about already knew how much we wanted a baby, so we told everyone right away. We bought onesies and toys, started planning for our new life with a baby, the whole deal. And then just a week later, we miscarried. The devastation we both felt in that ER room was something I would never wish upon anyone. And to make matters worse, the nurse treated me like a moron, acting as if I had gone to the ER for starting my period. Apparently their pregnancy test showed him that I had never been pregnant. I explained that I had gotten a positive on a digital test just a week prior, to which he replied that it must have been a false positive. A false positive is extremely rare, there’s less than 1% chance of this happening with a digital test. What’s more likely is that we had a chemical pregnancy, which is basically a very early loss, and that my HCG levels had reduced enough at that point to not show a pregnancy. I honestly don’t really care what it was. To us, it was our first pregnancy loss. I won’t ever know for sure, because that nurse didn’t bother to call the doctor for me, offered me a pad, and left the room. So I got up, walked out of the ER without being released or signing any papers, and went out for drinks. Logical response, right?

My “smile, someone’s watching” face taken around the time all this was happening.
Drink in hand, of course.

Full Speed Ahead on the Hot Mess Express

This is a continuation of my story, which starts with me leaving my life in San Diego and going home to Rural USA to start completely over in my 30s. (Start here if you want the whole story). I am writing this story in a memoir fashion, and sharing in small segments (usually once a week). I talk about unhealthy relationships, my struggles with defaulting to unhealthy coping mechanisms, marriage, becoming a step-mom, struggling with infertility, pregnancy loss, financial stress, job stress, and more. I hope that by sharing my stories of struggle with these things, that some of the lessons I have learned might offer you comfort if you’re dealing with similar things. I also wanted to note that my life is certainly not full of doom and gloom, and there are loads of fun and good things I could share, as well, even amidst these struggles. I’m simply sharing the hard stuff with this series to be transparent, to find healing for myself by finally talking about this time of my life, and hopefully this will inspire and help change at least one person’s life for the better.

Peace, love, and rock and roll,

Ginger


So now that we’ve established that real relationships, even the best ones, aren’t *all* sunshine and unicorns *all* the time, let’s talk real life struggles for a bit. Almost immediately after we got back from our honeymoon, the week before school started, we unexpectedly got my husband’s daughter full-time. I won’t go into all of the story here, or share too many of the details, but let me paint the picture a bit and I’ll let you decide how that went for me.

I had dated this man for a year, been engaged for 3.5 months, and then married for 3 months at this point. Until then, we had his daughter for visits every other weekend, and we always tried to make those visits fun. Now suddenly, we didn’t have to deal with the struggles related to shared custody, but we found out pretty quickly that this was not going to be an easy adjustment for anyone. I won’t speak for anyone else, but here’s my story. I went from girlfriend to fiancé to wife to main parental figure to a 13 year old girl in what felt like a split second.

At this point, my husband worked non-stop at the office, sometimes locally, and sometimes at his office an hour away, on our “funny farm”, fixing rental units… the todo lists for this man were never-ending. He barely slept. So here’s me, never having even really been around kids before for any length of time, trying to get a stubborn teenager to clean her room, do her homework, and be helpful around the house – none of which came especially easy to her. Being the eager step-mom and always striving to do things perfectly, I immediately created chore charts, color-coded them, and plastered them on the fridge, along with a daily and weekly schedule, and then tried to establish disciplinary consequences around the completion (or lack thereof) of these assigned tasks. Desperate for help around the house and with the kid, I even assigned my husband chores. You can imagine how peaceful, loving, and gentle our house was during this time. HA!

Obviously I didn’t have enough on my plate, so I decided to open up a new business that fall, too. So now I run a completely chaotic household *and* a brand new retail store – neither of which I was prepared for in the slightest bit, or had any experience with prior to diving into these roles. Anybody ever worked retail before? I won’t get into detail about my shop quite yet, but I will say this… Running a retail store makes you really appreciate a certain kind of person, and it makes you really *not* appreciate another kind of person.

So let’s recap. I’m a newly-wed, a brand-new full-time mom to a teenage girl, a clueless business owner, and wife to a lovely man who basically runs a circus on the daily. I was full speed ahead on the Hot Mess Express.

My Hallmark Story

This story picks up from where I left off in my last post. If you want to start from the beginning, check out Back to the Real Me.


Our love story was just like a Hallmark movie. Girl returns home to rural USA after ending a bad relationship in the big city… almost immediately meets a nice guy in an old pickup truck wearing old work jeans, flannel shirts, and cowboy boots… oh and he even had baby goats in his kitchen. They hang out innocently while he helps her look for a house to renovate, and he ends up making her fall in love with him. They have a blast becoming best friends, going on romantic dates, and end up starting a life together in his old farmhouse, negating the need for her to buy her own.

That’s where the Hallmark movies end, right? But that’s not reality. The love stories don’t end when people get together. That’s just the beginning!

The first year was full of all the expected gushy love stuff you see in movies. Wine tasting, funny awkward family gatherings, farm visits, visits to the small town bars, dinner dates… and then after dating for a year, we got engaged with a surprise proposal with the help of his daughter on her 13th birthday at a Blue Man Group show.

We decided we had waited long enough to find our soulmates, so we planned a small country wedding for four months later. We had a few stressful moments, as is expected when planning and hosting a wedding yourself in such a short time-frame. But all ends well with a beautiful, outdoor, hippie wedding by the pond at my mom’s house, followed by a reception at the local venue. Then we went on an epic adventure for our honeymoon, starting with a cross-country road trip, going on a beautiful Caribbean cruise, and ending with an adventurous return road trip. And finally, we lived happily ever after in our perfect home with our perfect future planned out, and the rest is history!

Ha! I love Hallmark movies just as much as the next girl, ok, probably more. But here’s the part that makes real life real. The story doesn’t end with the newlyweds running off on their honeymoon. If we are lucky, our love story never ends, right? The secret is to enjoy the entire journey of our lives, not just the made-for-movies love stories, and not hold our breaths through life while looking and waiting for our “happy ever after”. My goal is to relax, and enjoy the ride.

I Went to the Bar… A Lot.

This story picks up from where I left off in my last post. If you want to start from the beginning, check out Back to the Real Me.


When I came back from San Diego, I don’t know what I expected, but I was not prepared for what I got. I was 33 years old, living with my mother in the middle of cornfields, with nothing to do but promote my online network marketing business that I no longer loved (and was no longer thriving).

So, I did what everyone in my situation would do. I went to the only place I knew that I could find people to hang out with – the local bar. Even in my little country town, there were plenty of those to choose from. It didn’t matter what time of day it was, if I got bored at my mom’s or just needed to get out and do something, that something ended up being me finding a barstool. This happened earlier and earlier in the day. Usually leading me to a bar I could eat lunch at. Then I’d hang out with my new “friends” all day (usually just the bartenders, the people paid to listen to me) until I started noticing people coming in for dinner. I’d usually be drunk by then, so sometimes I’d just go ahead and order dinner and keep going until they kicked me out or someone offered a couch for me to sleep on for a while.

This wouldn’t be quite as bad if it happened once or twice, but this had become my regular routine. I began to realize that I was totally alone in a crowd of people. I was sad, angry, confused, and drunk. It wasn’t a good combination. After a solid month or so of this I decided that I needed to find something else to do with my days. So I started applying for jobs. I applied to four and was offered all four of them. I decided to take two part time jobs, one in an office and one as a consultant. I mean, why not work two jobs? I had nothing going on except for morning workouts with my mom and all the older ladies at the Y. And of course bellying up to the bar, which I could do easily after work.

So that’s what I did. I worked out, worked, and drank. A lot. After a while I decided I needed to meet new people, so I did what anyone would in my situation… I signed up for a dating app. That couldn’t possibly be disastrous in these conditions, could it? Thankfully I went on a few uneventful dates and nothing crazy came of it.

I started hanging out with the guys at my new job, telling them all about my dates over long lunches. Then I realized I was lunching and talking with the same guy pretty regularly (ok, most days), and that I was no longer interested in going out with random people. The next thing I know, I’m Facebook-officially in a relationship, and the rest is history! Ok, there’s quite a bit more to the story. I’ll share more of my adventures with my new mystery man next time. ❤️

Simplicity isn’t just about having a minimalist home.

This story picks up from where I left off in my last post. If you want to start from the beginning, check out Back to the Real Me.


The more I simplify and get rid of everything weighing me down, the more I realize that I’m getting back to my true self. I’m not just shedding extra clothes and shoes and useless gadgets; I’m also shedding years of habits and thoughts that I had adopted as my own that were not serving me in the slightest. Slowly but surely, I’m letting go of my hate for my body, of feeling like everything has to be perfect, including myself, and I’m saying goodbye to the insecure, beaten down, sad and lonely version of myself that has existed for far too long.

As I uncover what really matters to me and find out what truly brings me joy, I am finding myself – the me that I have missed! And the me that I’ve longed for and honestly feared was lost forever. Thankfully I’m able to let go of the anger and resentment towards those who helped shape me into that sad version, as well.

Now I know with certainly some of the things I want to make a priority in my life (listed randomly): taking time to appreciate the miracle of nature, listening to, making, and writing music, strengthening my faith in God, reading endlessly about things that interest me (or a sappy novel, or mystery, or …), writing parts of my story to share with the world, writing down my hopes and dreams (or worries, or grocery lists, or… – just writing down everything!), drinking good coffee and good wine (emphasis on good), eating the cheese, saying “yes!” to the chocolate, and spending quality time with my family and real friends (you know, the “quarter friends” who are genuinely putting an effort into our relationship).

This is my current list of priorities, but also “allowed” and desired in this process is the ability and freedom to adjust! Yes! We can change our priorities. We can change our minds. And we should! We should definitely take stock of what’s going well in our lives (and what isn’t) and take action, usually in the form of shifting our priorities.

As I make time for these things each day, I can feel myself letting go of the past, making room for more good in the future. But most importantly I am allowing myself the time and space to be here, right now, enjoying the present, without regrets (past) or worry (future). Just being the me that I am supposed to be, right now.

I Just Kept Driving

This story picks up from where I left off in my last post. If you want to start from the beginning, check out Back to the Real Me.


I remember that as I was preparing to make my exit from my life in San Diego, I didn’t want to take much with me. I shipped boxes of clothes, shoes, and important items ahead of me and packed everything else into my tiny car. I was totally fine with leaving the rest. It’s surprising how much you can fit into a VW Beetle convertible! Leaving a bunch of stuff was just another chance I had to lift some major weight off my shoulders.

Before I got wrapped up into this relationship, I proudly only possessed what could fit in my car. When I moved, and I did often, I’d give away a bunch of stuff, load up my car, and go. Then I’d have fun furnishing my new place with thrifted items. I’d collected a few things I’d kept along the way as I got a little more settled (a bed, for one), but for the most part I was still all about living freely. My focus was spending my time and money on experiences rather than things. Then something changed. Unfortunately that something was me.

You see, I wasn’t good enough for the person I was dating. I didn’t dress right, wear my hair the right way, make enough money, and I was much too fat. I was asked as soon as I would walk into their home for a family dinner not how I was or what was going on in our lives, but “how’s business”? It was a not so subtle way to point out that I wasn’t making as much money in my business as they thought I should be.

I was constantly made to feel bad about myself, even receiving birthday cards that made fun of my weight. There were constant jabs like these. And one day I finally caved. I had stood my ground, telling them I wasn’t going to diet for them, but in the end I lost the battle. They wanted me to use a meal replacement program they had seen advertised, because they thought I would lose a lot of weight quickly. Then I’d be less of an embarrassment to them.

These people, my partner’s parents at this time, made fun of people constantly. And they weren’t quiet about it! I can now see how it wasn’t ever really about me. It was definitely their problem, not mine. But their behavior was horrifying, and yet for some reason, I stayed in that relationship. I let them change me. I started obsessively dieting, buying fancy things I couldn’t afford, ignoring controlling and abusive behavior, and trying to keep up with their impossibly ridiculous standards.

I wouldn’t grasp the full impact of this for some time. Even now, as I write this several years later, I’m realizing different ways this affected me and how I thought of myself, and decisions I would make because of it. But when I did finally decide that I was going to leave this person (and their parents), it was like all the lightbulbs came on at once. I couldn’t wait to get further and further away from these people and this life. So, I just kept driving.


If you are still reading, thanks for letting me share a part of my story! I want to encourage you, right now, to stop and take a deep breath. Ask yourself, am I living the life I want, or the life someone else wants for me? Am I in a safe and nurturing environment, or am I in a situation that I shouldn’t be in? It took nearly three years for me to finally listen to my family and decide to drive away. Don’t wait. Be honest with yourself, and if you need to recalibrate, do it! I am not a licensed counselor, but please feel free to reach out if you need support on any of this. I know from experience that even when you know something isn’t right, it is not easy to leave (and stay gone).

Reality Check

This story picks up from where I left off in my last post. If you want to start from the beginning, check out Back to the Real Me.


Realizing I craved authenticity more than anything else, I continued my journey Eastward, and stopped to visit another dear friend. This one is my practical friend – the one who tells me like it is, and helps me see things from an entirely different perspective. But most importantly, she listened as I worked through everything I had just gone through out loud. I ended up staying a few days, soaking up the practical advice in a safe environment, enjoying the intelligent conversations. I started feeling myself light enough to be inspired to play a little music again. Something that I would later recognize as a huge red flag! If you’re not doing something that you love and that makes you “you”, take inventory of your life and your feelings and make sure you’re ok!

During that visit, we didn’t do anything extravagant. We ate meals at home, went through the drive-thru at Starbuck’s on our way to drop the kids off at school, and just hung out. I joined in on a few days of their cozy life, and I felt myself grow more and more convinced that I was doing the right thing starting over. That isn’t to say that I never doubted this decision, or never freaked out about being in my thirties and having absolutely nothing to show for it. Not to mention the reality that I was driving home to live with my mother with no plan whatsoever other than to get out of my current situation and home to a safe and supportive environment.

If you want a reality check, ask people who *really* know you what they think about how your life is currently going. That doesn’t mean you should give them or anyone else control over your decisions or happiness either. But these real friends, these are the people who aren’t afraid to call you out. They will notice when you’re lost, and they will remind you of who you were before your soul was pushed down into hiding.

That’s what the first week of my journey out of San Diego looked like: a huge reality check. I knew with certainty that I would never go back to that life, and that I truly wanted to be the real me again, though at this point I wasn’t even entirely sure who that was.


If you are still reading, thanks for letting me share a part of my story! I want to encourage you, right now, to stop and take a deep breath. Ask yourself, am I living the life I want, or the life someone else wants for me? Am I in a safe and nurturing environment, or am I in a situation that I shouldn’t be in? It took nearly three years for me to finally listen to my family and decide to drive away. Don’t wait. Be honest with yourself, and if you need to recalibrate, do it! I am not a licensed counselor, but please feel free to reach out if you need support on any of this. I know from experience that even when you know something isn’t right, it is not easy to leave (and stay gone).

Back to the Real Me

It occurred to me recently that most of my focus these past few years has been on getting rid of things that don’t serve me, and putting my energy into what lights me up. It seems so simple, but we are influenced greatly by our partners, families, employers, friends, neighbors, social media… everyone shows us the way we’re “supposed” to be, so it’s no surprise that many of us get lost along the way! As I work to uncover the real me and prioritize the things that mean the most to me, I am finding myself healing from past experiences that have carved my path. I finally feel ready to address and share some of those things. As I work through these traumas (and move past them), I am fully embracing the me that I love and everything that represents who God made me to be authentically.

Free Falling

Continue reading “Back to the Real Me”

Do Something Good

Do something good. Just to do it. Not to get credit for it, but just for the sake of doing something good. It’s so easy to immediately go to social media and show your people something awesome you did. We think, wow, what I just did (insert any accomplishment/charitable act here) was so amazing, I can’t wait to see what everyone else says about it! “Facebook or it didn’t happen!”

I get it. I have done it (and still do sometimes), but I’m working towards getting away from it. Now I understand what it’s really about: getting external validation. And honestly, if we are in constant need of external validation, it is time to turn inward and do some work on ourselves. Our self-worth should come from something much more meaningful than social media likes, comments, and follows.

Now, back to the doing… what’s something good we can do? There are so many people out there that could use some help, and even more people who could just use a smile or a little pick-me-up! A little bit of “happy” goes a long way!

Simple Ways to Spread A Little Cheer

Send a sweet or funny text to someone you’ve been thinking about, but haven’t spoken to recently.

Write a note or send out a card to brighten up someone’s mailbox.

Take the time to make an actual phone call or video chat with a friend or family member.

Drop off cookies for your neighbors.

Bring an extra coffee to work, and bless the first person you run into with it.

Leave an extra generous tip on that coffee.

Invite someone to go for a walk with you.

Smile at everyone you see on your walk.


Want to take it a step further?

I just found out about this amazing service called NeedU.Org. It’s a free website that you can use to really help someone! It’s kind of like setting up a meal train, only you can set up so much more than meals. You customize it and make it work for just about anyone or anything. It’s a simple and free way to organize needs for both those giving and receiving. If you know someone in your community who could use some help, I urge you to start them a page and share away!

Why we started NeedU

Over the last few years, we’ve experienced times when we needed some extra support. Some of these times were sad, marked by the loss of loved ones. Other times were happier but hard in their own way, like the birth of two children in one year. Our friends, family and community were there for us and expressed how much they wanted to help, but we didn’t know what to ask or how to ask for it.

We created NeedU because needing help is normal, and yet there was no platform out there that bridged the gap between asking and receiving help. 

— A note from the co-founders of NeedU: Jonathan, Brandon and David

Clutter-free Gifting and Receiving

Let’s be honest, when we’re trying to simplify our lives, we don’t want to receive a bunch of random items to find homes for, and we don’t want to gift others things they don’t need, either. So how do we give and receive gifts? I have compiled some of my favorite ideas on this. But first… my favorite Christmas sweater. 🎄

Communicate

Let people know what you need (or don’t need). It seems so simple, but we often don’t want to be difficult, so we don’t speak up. But here’s the thing, if you ask for what you actually need, you make it easier for the person trying to buy you gifts! They don’t have to guess, they won’t worry about getting you something you won’t like, and they can easily cross your gift off their to-do list. I just heard on a podcast recently to be a good gift receiver, become known for things you’ll always want and use. For example, I love cheese, chocolate, dry red wine, herbal teas, and local honey. I will absolutely use and love those items anytime, and they’re consumable so they won’t take up space for long! Another idea is to be known for what experiences you would enjoy, such as manicures and pedicures, massages, coffee shops, wine/beer tasting, and live music… Any gift cards that enable me to have more of those experiences are more than welcomed! Yours might look completely different from mine, but you get the idea. Make it easy by being open and honest about what you want to receive, and you’ll open up that line of communication for others to be honest about their wants and needs, too.

Shop Local

Shopping local is fun, and helping small shop owners is a win-win! I am not perfect at this by any means, but when I can, I try to keep it local. For example, instead of ordering books online, I asked my local bookstore to get them for me. I got a call when they came in to pick them up at my convenience. Simple, effective, it supported a local store, and I got a great, personalized experience. I did a similar thing when shopping for my new walking shoes. I knew what I thought I wanted, called my local running store, verified they had options for me to try, and went there instead of buying online. It didn’t cost me any extra money, I got to try on several styles, I supported someone in my community, and I went home with a pair of shoes that day. In fact, I walked out of the store with them on. When’s the last time you’ve done that? It’s been far too long for me. Instead of mindlessly clicking “buy now” and ending up with way more than you need or want to spend when gifting (or buying for yourself), be purposeful and mindful of your shopping experience, make a list, do research, and shop in your community.

Gift Consumables & Experiences

As I mentioned before, my main wishlist items are things I will always use. They will be appreciated, and won’t take up space or be wasted. I won’t worry about where to display or store them, or whether or not they fit or flatter me. This helps keep our homes clutter-free, and also gives people options for doing or enjoying things they might not have in their budget right now. Examples include specialty food/drink items, gift cards, memberships, online subscriptions, local experiences (movies, music, sports, museums, etc).


I hope these ideas help as you navigate a meaningful, clutter-free holiday season. Stay tuned for more ideas and random thoughts from me on IG, Facebook, and soon you’ll find me on Pinterest, as well. You can search for “Live Like A Daylily” to get right back here, too.

Stay safe, and as always, be your best self every single day, and remember to Live Like A Daylily.


My go-to capsule wardrobe guide. This is the only thing that’s truly worked for me! I recommend it whole-heartedly for you and your loved ones!