I had a friend say to me this morning “I’m finding myself fearful of things that haven’t even happened yet.”

Yes, for even the most optimistic people, 2020 is doing a number on us. It seems as if every day something else is happening in our world – wildfires, protests, racial tension and deaths from COVID.

Our emotional and mental health is more fragile than ever. There’s so much uncertainty that we just can’t get our footing. And it just keeps piling up. Families are dealing with the heartache of not being with their loved ones during their final moments and isolation in the grief that follows.  Some are coping with the stress of losing a job or while others are exhausted and stressed essential workers who are working under difficult circumstances. And of course, there’s the Presidential election causing anger and fear regardless of what side you’re on.

Yesterday my community experienced the loss of a high school student suddenly and unexpectedly which has profoundly affected many of us.

We are all struggling mightily to try and find a reason for everything happening in our world right now but there are more questions than answers.

It’s as if the earth continues to shake under our feet and we don’t know how to find stable ground.  We’re literally hanging on by a thread until it stops cracking open.

At the beginning of the pandemic I did a video series with my friend who also is a member of the clergy talking about how to cope with everything happening.  Even if we’re spiritual it’s hard to find answers as we wonder what all of this really means.

There were a few times in my life when I’ve experience debilitating anxiety and fear of the future:

  • In 1997 my first-born son died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. He was 3 months and 24 days’ old.
  • I lived in Los Angeles during the riots and the Northridge earthquake.
  • I was working in New York City during 9/11.
  • I live near Sandy Hook elementary school and my childrens’ teachers had their own children attending that school.

I’m sure many of you have had times in your life like this as well.

But 2020 is different.  We’re like a boxer in a ring where the blows keep coming and we’re up against the ropes. 2020 is a relentless fighter that doesn’t seem to be content until we’re down on the mat knocked out.  It’s playing with our psyche and wearing us down.

I’m going to keep going with the boxing metaphor for a moment here and remind you of the movie Rocky.  If you’re too young to have seen the original watch it. In the final scenes Rocky is getting destroyed in the ring. He’s a bloody mess. To this day I’d still close my eyes at the scene where their cutting his eyelid so he can still see as he’s fighting.  His opponent, Apollo Creed, is beating the crap out of him and you almost wish Rocky would stay down as it’s so painful to watch him being beaten so badly.  The film ends with Rocky losing, by judges’ decision, but winning a more personal victory by “going the distance,” making it through an entire fifteen rounds in the ring as no previous challenger had.

That’s us right now – we’re going the distance.  We feel beaten up and exhausted, but we keep getting up to fight this SOB 2020.

Part of fighting though is self-care.  Here are some tips on staying mentally and emotionally strong.

Don’t engage on social media. Fights over social media about masks, vaccines and politicians drain us of energy and amplify our bad feelings. Be confident in your beliefs and stay strong but don’t engage in nasty discourse. Also take a digital break and step away from social media and the endless stream of news.

Breathe. I know that sounds strange but think about when you’re scared.  You end up holding your breath and then letting out a sigh of relief. When you find yourself tensing up, practice breathing in for a count of 4, holding it for a count of 4 and breathing out for a count of 4.  Do this several times and you’ll find yourself relaxing.

Share your feelings.  This is when social media is good. If you’re overwhelmed and anxious about distance learning and feel as if you’re screwing it up, talk to other moms.  You’re not alone! It helps to speak with other people who are having the same anxieties and can empathize. Essential workers who are parents have it especially difficult.  Find groups where you can get support.

Talk to someone.  If you are especially depressed and anxious speak to a therapist. Your feelings are valid, and a therapist can help you manage them.  If you have serious depression issues they can also suggest medication.

Get a change of scenery. Not only does exercise release endorphins which improve your mood and reduce stress but taking a walk and stepping away from what you’re currently doing helps clear your mind.

We may be down but we’re not out! We will go the distance like Rocky. Care for yourself right now and keep your eye on the future.


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I’m an avid reader. I usually have several books I’m reading at the same time. One is always my easy night reading, some fiction that doesn’t require me to think. In the morning it’s usually a non-fiction about self-improvement, spirituality or business.

I find myself searching right now for a book that will help me understand my feelings as my friend quickly nears the end of her life due to cancer. It’s not how to deal with grief as she hasn’t passed yet. It’s almost a “how to prepare to miss someone” that I’m looking for.

I’m pretty sure it doesn’t exist.

So often I find myself comparing the end of her life to the beginning of life. When you’re about to have a baby and you’re waiting with excitement and a little trepidation about the birthing process. You prepare the bag for the hospital, decorate the nursery and buy the clothes. But just as there’s no manual for being a parent there’s no manual for grieving. You can read or take a class, but you never know how YOU will feel. Here we are waiting for her death also with trepidation about the process. Her family has made plans and we’ve prepared but I certainly don’t know how I will feel. Each birth is as unique as each death.

I’m so grateful that my friend and I have this time together to say all we want to say and to just be together. And while I know she’s at as good a place mentally as she can be with her imminent passing, there’s definitely fear on her part and anxiousness on mine – waiting for the call or text when she tells me she’s decided the time has come to go to hospice. You see she’s made the decision that she wants to die at hospice not home. She doesn’t want her family having that memory of their home where so many happy ones were made.

I have good friends who check in on me through this process – people who know she’s a close friend and understand that I’m hurting but can’t hurt too much in front of her. It’s almost impossible to explain how I’m feeling because, to be honest, I don’t know how I’m feeling. Right now, I’m numb, waiting for the inevitable grief.

Every morning I wake up wondering if this will be the day she decides it’s time to go to hospice. When my texts go unanswered for too many hours or she tells me she has new pain I worry. It’s the next chapter and almost the final one. I realize that once she goes to hospice the only question left to consider every morning is whether this will be the day she passes. I haven’t allowed myself to think about that yet or how much I will miss her. How her passing has affected me like no other since the passing of my baby at 4 months-old to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

It’s ironic that those two deaths have been so different. Connor died with no warning and apparently completely healthy. There was no time to prepare myself emotionally for my world completely crashing around me. It took years for me to even slightly recover.

And now I have just the opposite experience. The opportunity to say goodbye and spend precious time with her. I have the benefit through the loss of my son to understand all too well the grieving process and that while her passing will leave a gaping hole in my life I will at some point smile thinking about her.

How do I prepare for her dying? I don’t. I simply enjoy every minute I have with her right now.

Women are incredible at taking care of everyone’s needs.  Sick kid, needy friend, busy spouse and aging parents – we’re there to heal, listen and support.  But in the midst of caring for everyone, our own needs go unmet.

Sometimes we’re aware of our feelings of sadness and frustration that our desires are unfulfilled but often we’re simply so busy getting everything done that we don’t even tune in to what our spirit is trying to tell us – that something is missing.  I’ve had some women tell me that they choose to stay so busy because they’re afraid to examine their lives and face the emptiness they’re feeling.

At some point we finally come up for air, look around and realize that our lives are nothing like we had imagined them to be.  It’s as if the curtain is pulled back and we think “how the hell did I get here?!”

Do you feel that something is missing but you’re afraid to even consider what it might be?

The good news is that we don’t have to forego our happiness and personal dreams for anyone – not even our kids.  I can’t think of a more important lesson to teach our kids than living life to its fullest and following their passion.

This isn’t living selfishly but living self-fulfilled

In my coaching practice I work with women to get back on track to living the life they intended – confidently, courageously and joyfully.

Here are the first steps in getting there:

Turn on your personal GPS – The Universe always provides us with answers but often we either ignore them out of fear or don’t hear them because of all of the “chatter” in our brain.  Women’s intuition is a very real and powerful force.  It’s our personal GPS and will most certainly get us to where we want to go.  In order to do this we need to tune inwards and the best way to do that is…..

Meditate (Yes, you can!) – It’s almost impossible for us to disconnect and simply sit in silence.  In fact, it probably feels uncomfortable.  We constantly have our “to-do” list running through our heads.

If you regularly practice meditation that’s great but I have many women tell me they’ve tried meditating but can’t.  I tell them it’s because they’re trying rather than simply being.  Try this exercise:

  • Find 10 minutes where you’re alone in your house or, if you can’t do that go park somewhere and sit in your car.
  • Close your eyes and breathe in for a count of four, hold it for a count of four and breathe out for a count of four.
  • Keep repeating this breathing and as you do focus on your breath as the air enters your lungs and leaves your nose.
  • If thoughts enter your mind don’t fight them but acknowledge them and then allow them to drift away like a cloud in the sky.

Start planning – You didn’t get to this place in your life overnight and you’re certainly not going to reinvent yourself overnight either.  This is where I work with my clients on the “3 F’s” – Focus, Filter and Forget.

Focus – Create vision boards with photos and written journal entries of exactly what you want in your life – a new job, a new home, a new partner – with as many specifics as possible.  Write out your perfect day from the moment you get up in the morning.  What do you smell? Where are you – near a beach, a city, the country? What is the temperature outside?  What do you eat?  Where do you work – a large corporation, in a home office, in a small shop? How are you dressed?

Filter – Begin filtering out friends and family members who are not supportive of your dreams or just emanate negative energy.  Don’t engage in conversations about your plans with them as they will surely find ways to discourage you.  Usually these people are unhappy themselves and, as they say, misery loves company.  Instead, surround yourself with people who will encourage you on your journey.

Forget – Let go of bad habits that will keep you from reaching your goals.  This could include unhealthy eating habits, drinking too much or smoking.  It also could be the habit of volunteering for projects that you really don’t want to participate in.  If your partner enjoys going to sporting events and that’s simply not your thing politely decline.  If friends constantly go out to expensive restaurants and you really can’t afford it take a pass and suggest some free activities instead.  The goal is to start living more authentically.

Are you living the life you intended to?  What changes would you like to see for yourself? To learn more about how I can help you, visit my coaching page here.

And if you want to be part of a group of women who are ready to live life on their terms joyfully and successfully, join my Facebook Group My Midlife Tribe – Fabulous, Fierce Females!





I’m no different than you.

I look at people on the street and wonder what their life story is.  Not one of us is immune to heartbreak, stress, loss and major struggles.  Show me someone that is, and I’ll show you a liar.

But one thing that might be a bit different is that I’ve built a business around overcoming my struggles.  Actually, it’s more than a business, it’s my mission.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with my story – my first son died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, my second son has intellectual disabilities, my first marriage emotionally destroyed me and then, when I got a divorce, financially destroyed me. My second husband was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis four weeks after we were married. Today, I’m the primary caregiver for my son, husband and mom who lives with us as well as my two daughters.

For years I was exhausted and scared of what the future held for me. I was resentful that there was no one to take care of me – that I was responsible for everyone.

And then one day, after feeling incredibly sorry for myself, I snapped out of it and realized that the only person who could control my future was ME!  There was no magic wand that was going to change anything – I needed to do the work.  And I did.  I worked my ass off building my business while also managing the house.

Did I ever think in my wildest dreams that I would build a career on helping women in midlife overcome fear and tragedy to live their best life? Absolutely not.  But that’s the way life took me, and I couldn’t be happier.

And now I’m in midlife and  I’m living my best life!

Originally I thought that all I ever wanted as I got older was to have peace – I was wrong.  I want more – I want it all!  For me “all” is having nights out dancing with girlfriends and days kayaking.  It means leisurely afternoons with my husband wine tasting.  It means getting out of my comfort zone and trying new things like pole dancing!

Yes, peace is important.  But to me, peace is quiet and subdued.  And for a while, after a chaotic marriage and major life struggles that was perfect.  But now that my life has settled down I want So. Much. More. 

It’s not that my husband’s disability has gone away or that I won’t be caring for my son for many years, but I’ve figured out how to make choices that personally and professionally fulfill me at the same time. I’ve learned to fit in other aspects to my life so that I don’t lose myself in the role of caregiver, mom, spouse or daughter.

Most people think wrongly that midlife means quiet and subdued.  That’s until you get there, and you learn the secret – that it’s the best part of life. You can become free of the drama of your 20’s, the exhaustion of being a new parent in your 30’s. You can start living in the present moment and figuring out what you want RIGHT NOW and going for it.

Now is the time I’m being good to ME – my body, mind and soul. I choose to live in a way that nourishes my soul and is in alignment with my desires.

I’ve created a “soul-check” list for every decision I make:

  • Does this feel good?
  • Does this feel true?
  • Is my body in agreement?
  • Does this bring me inner peace/calm?
  • Does this make me feel confident?

I want to pause here for a minute. Some of you are probably thinking that this is selfish.  We’ve been taught to think about everyone else first.  And yes, even if you have adult children you’re probably putting their needs before your own.

I have one question for you –

When do you get to live life for YOU?

Think about the last decision you made and ask yourself the questions above. But get out of your head when you answer them because that’s when the “shoulds” come into play.

When you make decisions from your soul rather than your head you will never be out of alignment and you will start living the “Hell yes!” life you’re meant to.

Want to connect with other Fabulous Fierce Females?   Join our Facebook Group My Midlife Tribe: Fabulous Fierce Females!

Twenty-three years ago, when my baby died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome I thought my world would crash down around me.  How do you survive the death of your baby?  Somehow I did.  As the saying goes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And that was certainly everyone’s opinion of me -that I must be incredibly strong and that they could never survive such a tragedy.  People never realize what they can survive when there’s no other choice.

Since then I’ve experienced many more hardships – my other son is Intellectually Disabled and my second husband was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis four weeks after we were married and is now confined to a powerchair.  I was financially ruined from my first marriage and now I’m the only source of income for my family of six including my mother who lives with us. People hear my story and they look at me in wonder or pity or awe.

Despite all of this I’ve built a life of abundance and joy.  I am resilient.

I’m certainly not alone. There are so many stories of life-altering tragedy and how people have  overcome incredible loss and come out the other side stronger.

Yes, humans are remarkably resilient. No doubt resilience is what’s needed to survive in a world that’s becoming increasingly unpredictable. Resilience is needed in your career and your relationships.  Yet there’s a trade-off when we’re super resilient and that’s the loss of vulnerability.  Who among us hasn’t been burned in a relationship and reluctant to let our guard down with the next person we meet?  Don’t get me wrong, honing our BS meter with people is important in order to avoid getting screwed over but that’s different than never allowing someone to get close to you for fear of being hurt again.

While I’m happily remarried, it took me a while to become vulnerable and really open up to my husband.  When I had done that in the past my feelings and dreams were trampled on and my insecurities were used as weapons against me. I realized, however, that if I had any hope of having a successful and authentic relationship I needed to take the risk.

As a caregiver for my husband, son and mother and parenting my daughters I have a bunch of people who rely on me. There are times when I feel I just need to keep my head down and move forward.  I’m in charge of keeping all the balls in the air and if I take my eye off one of them the entire system I’ve created will come crashing down.  Caregivers are beyond resilient which doesn’t allow much room for vulnerability.  We don’t have time to explore our feelings nor do we feel we have the right to complain or admit our fears. This leads, however, to becoming resentful of our role.  Being able to share feelings in a safe place with either a friend, therapist or support group is so important for maintaining your own emotional well-being.

Resilience and vulnerability in your career are equally tricky especially for women entrepreneurs.  When we are tough at negotiating with a vendor or client we’re perceived as a bitch.  If we discuss the challenges we have raising kids, caring for our aging parents while working a demanding job we’re dismissed as not being strong enough.  But intuitively we know that for a business to succeed we must connect with our clients in authentic ways.

We need to show up as a human being, with our faults and vulnerabilities.

Finding the balance between vulnerability and resiliency isn’t easy.  I know for certain that when my son died a piece of my heart died with him.  Since then I hardly cry when another friend or relative dies.  When my favorite uncle, even my dad died I hardly shed a tear.  It’s certainly not that I didn’t love them but it’s as if my soul knew it needed to become super resilient to withstand another tragedy as great as the death of my baby. My threshold for tolerating grief is quite high.

Vulnerability is a luxury that some are not allowed. People who are in abusive relationships or a hostile work environment can never show their weak spots.  Being vulnerable requires a level of trust that some have come to believe shouldn’t be granted to anyone.  That’s not cynical it’s self-preservation.

Vulnerability requires courage.  It’s much easier to be resilient and avoid authentic and meaningful relationships.  Resilience doesn’t require you to feel.  Being vulnerable means you’re taking a risk on yourself and others.

Have you learned to be vulnerable and was it successful?  Share here and help someone else who might be struggling.

Want to connect with other Fabulous Fierce Females?   Join our Facebook Group My Midlife Tribe: Fabulous Fierce Females!


Let’s face it – most women are pleasers. We grew up playing with baby dolls and being “mommy.”  We are taught to be caregivers for everyone. Our parents wanted us to “dress appropriately” and “act like a lady.”  In school our grades reflected whether we got along well with others and followed instructions.

In short, the message we received was that our job was to be kind, take care of others and don’t make waves.

That’s still the message women receive and we are harshly labeled by the media and society when we don’t conform. At work if we advocate strongly for our idea we’re a bitch. If we get into a debate the adjective used to describe our interaction is “shrill.”  And of course, if we really go nuts then we must be on our period.

The adjectives used for men are completely different – confident, tough, a good negotiator.  And hormones are never a factor.

Several years ago a new phrase became popular – “disruptor.” Companies and products that are redefining a category or shaking up their industry with new ideas are disruptors.  The people who are disruptors are considered visionaries.

Women in midlife need to be disruptors as well.  We should be envisioning our future and living life on our terms as joyfully as possible. Doing so requires us to be laser-focused on what we do and don’t want in our lives and manifesting it, regardless of what the people around us think.  Here’s the thing, most people in our lives don’t want us to change. It either will inconvenience them or threaten their view of how life should be lived. And people looooovvveeee to tell us what we should be doing!

We need to change our mindset of what is acceptable behavior for us and the people in our tribe. By advocating for what you want and creating standards for what you will not allow you’re not a bitch your self-empowered. This is true in your professional and personal life.  It’s time to stop excusing rude, insensitive comments couched as advice and concern that leave you feeling badly about yourself.  Whether it’s your sister, friend or business colleague they need to hear from you in very confident language that you will no longer engage in conversations that you consider to be toxic or not supportive.

Recently on my You Tube Channel I did a video on establishing boundaries with family, friends and business colleagues who aren’t supportive.  We talked about having the right to say “No!” to relationships, situations and obligations and how to do it.

How often do you find yourself doing something because you think that’s what you “should” be doing? We don’t want to join the committee or go to the family party but we do it because at some point we were programmed to believe that’s what we’re supposed to do.

Stop and ask yourself the question – how would my life be positively or negatively impacted if I said “No” to these things?  Chances are, if you shut down the voice inside your head that tells you that you must do them, you’d not only feel happier but you’d have time to spend with a friend or work on your passion project or exercise or simply relax on the couch.  

There are positive outcomes from “No”

When you’re a mom and working long hours, it’s natural to want to give your kids as much of your time as you can.  There’s not a working mom alive who hasn’t heard the words “You never have time for me!”  Saying “no” to spending an afternoon with your son or daughter and instead exercising, reading a book or visiting a friend, seems incredibly selfish to most moms.  But not only is it important for your emotional and physical well-being, you’re also sending the message to your kids that caring for oneself is important.  Additionally, kids need to understand that your job is something you enjoy doing and their requests for you to stop working will also be met with a “no.

At work, “No” is extremely useful when a co-worker is trying to dump his/her share of a project on you or when your boss consistently asks you to stay late.  There’s a difference between being a team player and being taken advantage of.   The same holds true when you own your own business. Do you have a problem saying “No” to someone who isn’t willing to pay a fair price for your service or an employee who constantly shows up late or asks for time off?   These are just a few reasons your business might not be growing as you would like.

Do you say “No” enough?

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • How much time did I spend yesterday doing tasks/favors for other people?
  • How did I feel as I was doing them?
  • When was the last time I said “NO” to something I didn’t want to do?
  • How did that make me feel?

I’ve had my own struggle with boundary-setting and saying “No” lately.  Ever since the pandemic started I’ve been feeding my family of 6  Every. Single. Night. Before this, my daughters had afterschool activities and we rarely all ate together.  On many nights when either my husband, my mom or I were shuttling kids back and forth from activities dinner was “catch as catch can” meaning whatever you could find in the refrigerator or make yourself.

All of a sudden everyone was home and very quickly I found myself stressing as to what I was going to make for dinner.  I couldn’t focus on work past 4 o’clock as the thought of dinner loomed large. To be honest a great deal of this had to do with my mother (who lives with us) envisioning family dinners all together which rarely happened under normal circumstances. My daughters are great at making dinner for themselves and even my son with Intellectual Disabilities can whip up a mean plate of pasta and meatballs for himself.  I found myself very quickly becoming cranky and resentful.  If I wanted to go for a walk or exercise or have a social-distance cocktail with my friend I had to time it so I could still make dinner.

I discovered that I needed to say “No” to cooking dinner and eating together every night.  What I now do is state at the beginning of each day whether tonight would be everyone for themselves or dinner all together. By doing this I found I enjoyed mealtime much more and a ton of stress was lifted.

Please hear this:

It’s not your job to make anyone happy but yourself.

Think of something you consistently do that you would like to say “NO” to.  Practice stating to the person that you no longer will do that task.  When speaking to the person, even if it’s your child, be assertive and don’t apologize.

What would you rather be doing with that time you just saved? I’d love to hear from you!

Want to join a group of midlife women who are also deciding to live life to the fullest?  Join my Facebook Group – My Midlife Tribe: Fabulous, Fierce Females!

I never imagined I would be at a point that people considered me “middle-aged.”  When I was in my 20’s and 30’s that seemed so… well….. OLD! But as the years ticked by it didn’t even occur to me that I was getting to that point.  I just kept living my life as I always did.  When I became a mom it began to feel as if life was moving forward at light speed and I got so wrapped up in parenting and being an entrepreneur I just went on automatic pilot to keep all the balls in the air. I didn’t have the time to self-reflect on who I was.

But I started to realize that midlife had arrived when police officers started looking like kids and some friends were a decade younger than me.  I still enjoyed the same things – going out dancing, dinners with friends and hiking but there was a different feel to it.  I enjoyed having dinner with friends at home more often than a noisy restaurant.  Hiking wasn’t just about exercise but an opportunity to have deep, meaningful conversations with my girlfriend. And dancing was still fun but not until 2AM.

My younger self would have said – “Yup – you’re officially old.” And, make no mistake, the media would probably agree.  After all, after fifty-four year’s old they stop tracking our opinions, viewing habits and spending behavior.  Not only are we old but we’re invisible.  But here’s the reality.  We account for more than 40% of spending in the US economy each year and 50% of discretionary spending. We spend more than our younger sisters on wine, coffee and vacations.  So why are we ignored? Because the majority of people working at ad agencies and marketing firms are not middle-aged.  They have no clue what we’re about!

First, let’s think about the term Midlife – it doesn’t mean end – it means MIDDLE!  With the average life-expectancy rising every year and women already outliving men by almost 30% we’ve got a lot of life ahead of us.

So the question becomes whether you’re willing to grab life by the short-hairs and start creating the next chapter.  Make no mistake, it takes courage.  We’ve had half of our lives to create routines and get into ruts which, while not necessarily joyful are comfortable.  New chapters shake things up and push us into the unknown.  That’s scary stuff.  It’s easier to stay where we are and remain in the invisible role the media and others have chosen for us.

But is that good enough for you? What about the unrealized dreams you might have put aside when you got married and had kids?  What about the passion that you decided not to pursue because everyone told you to take the “safe route” of a different career?

Midlife can be an exciting time of moves. Physically and spiritually moving. My husband and I started talking about where we wanted to live when the kids were out of the house. That’s a big deal – leaving comfortable memories and creating new ones. Spiritually moving can be just as scary.  It means gathering the courage to say “no” to friends and family who might want to see you stay where you are in your life.  To be “responsible” and “sensible.” But honestly, have you ever read about a woman in her 70’s or 80’s and admired her because she was responsible or sensible?  Hell no! We read about kick-ass women who are running marathons or sky diving or starting new businesses and think “that’s what I want to do when I’m her age.”

Now’s the time to have fun.  You get to choose what you want to do and who you want to be.  You get to shed the titles that you’ve given yourself and start thinking of how you want to define yourself.  What is your mid-life plan?  Share in the comments below.

Want to join a group of midlife women who are also deciding to live life to the fullest?  Join my Facebook Group – My Midlife Tribe: Fabulous, Fierce Females!







Recently I was talking to one of my single girlfriends who was telling me what she wanted in a partner.  She wanted someone to go on romantic trips with to exotic vacations.  Someone to go hiking with and do outdoor activities.

I asked her “but what if you find this guy and a year later he’s in an accident and becomes a paraplegic?  Then what?”

I get it, most people don’t think like this but it’s what happened to me.  I had my list too when I was newly single and thinking about meeting someone.  That’s what online dating profiles are all about right?  We need to list out our criteria for a partner and the best description of ourselves.  Often when we’re scrolling through Tinder it’s about finding someone who matches all our interests, whether that’s someone who loves outdoor adventures or quiet evenings at home. 

When my current husband and I met on Match our profiles reflected the people we were at that time, but little did we know how vastly different we would be in just a few short years.  Then, my husband was a former pro-golfer who loved outdoor activities.  That appealed to me.  I wanted someone who was calm and kind and would be a partner to me on spontaneous adventures.  He fit the bill in every way. 

Until life threw us a curve ball in the form of Primary Progressive MS.  Within a very short time this man who had been the high school football quarterback, star hockey player and pro-golfer lost the ability to walk.  He suspected what was happening shortly before our wedding.  For many years he had been misdiagnosed with Lyme but was quickly realizing it was something else.  Having grown up with a friend’s dad who had MS I had a vision of what could be in store for our future.  My vision for a partner to have outdoor adventures with and travel was evaporating and was being replaced with the idea that I would be tied down caring for a man who might need help with the basic activities of daily living.

Friends questioned if I really wanted to take this on.  Afterall I was already caring for my son with intellectual disabilities who would need my support for the rest of his life.  And it certainly wasn’t what I had planned.  I can honestly say however that there wasn’t a moment that I questioned my decision to marry him.  As I said to my friends, if the positions would have been reversed and I was the one who was ill I wouldn’t imagine him leaving me (and I know that’s true.) 

I will admit, however to an overwhelming sadness that the future I had envisioned was no longer in the cards. I mourned the adventure trips we wouldn’t take and a partner to spend weekend afternoons on hikes or bike trips.  I know that the divorce rate is high for many people with chronic illnesses – the caregiver just can’t handle the responsibility and the loss of a future that they had planned.

That’s when I realized that no one person – even a life partner – can fulfill all your needs.  There are times you need girlfriends and there are times you simply need yourself.  At first, I thought about meeting other people with disabled spouses and going places or doing things.  But then it occurred to me, I already have people in my life to do these things with.  It was at that moment that I realized that I have different sets of friends for various parts of my life.  I have my “cheer mom friends” who I travel with and spend a great majority of the winter months with on the road for my daughters’ All-Star cheer competitions.  There are my  “deep thought” friends who I have philosophical and spiritual conversations with.  And there are my spur-of-the-moment outdoor friends who I can go paddle boarding and hiking with.  There are also those friends who get to see me the raw, scared me – the ones who just listen to me when I worry about the future and will share a glass of wine.

Do I still have moments of sadness? Sure. Recently we were at a friend’s wedding and everyone was paired off on the dance floor. It’s the slow dances that are tough.  I’d love to be sharing an intimate moment like that with my husband.  But we’re learning there are “fix its” as we call them.  I can sit on his lap and simply enjoy the music.  And when I want to go crazy on the dance floor I’m perfectly content dancing by myself and having him watch.

The point is don’t give up on the life partner if he/she doesn’t meet all the criteria you set forth.  No one person can do that and you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.  Find your circles.  Be OK with dancing by yourself.