The Missing Piece

I recently spent some time with my oldest son doing puzzles. They were 3-D puzzles, and it was often hard to tell what the piece in my hand was, let alone where it belonged. All I could do was try to make all the pieces fit together.

Last year, I made my 2013 Red Hot List. It was a list designed to help me put a different kind of puzzle together: my new life.

When I wrote the list, I didn’t have any regrets about the life changes I had made (I still don’t), but I remember feeling really isolated back then and like something was missing. My hope was that doing the activities on the list would help me get to know my new town and meet new people.

Between my good intentions and the fact that these were things I had already started doing, needed to do or wanted to do, I figured that my chances of completing everything on the list were pretty good. Red Hot Life … here I come, right?

Now here we are, more than a year later. I could go item by item now and tell you the progress I made. But the bottom line is this: I did some things, and I didn’t do others.

As I was working through my list, I took advantage of a few sessions of free counseling available through my employer. (In case I haven’t mentioned it before, I think counseling is fabulous.) I was telling my counselor about some of the issues that had led me to make my list and how I was hoping that doing the things on my list would make me feel less isolated. But after talking with her, what I realized was that the real problem wasn’t isolation but lack of connection. Oprah would call that an “Aha! moment.”

Connecting to others is important to us introverts. We crave meaningful conversations. When I spend quality time with the people I’m closest to, that “buzz” can last for days. I don’t feel that connection often enough, though. If I’m really honest with myself, I know that having a partner would help – not because I need someone to “fix” my situation, but because I want to share my life with someone: someone who gets me, whose company I enjoy, and who gives me the space I need but the connection I crave in a more permanent way. But I’m realistic, thanks to a few months of online dating that told me loud and clear that a single mom with young kids isn’t what a lot of guys are looking for. I’m still open to dating, but my heart knows I will need to be exceedingly patient.

So while I can fill my days with the activities on my list like going to wineries and local attractions, doing those things won’t always make me feel more connected. Sometimes they actually make me feel worse because I look around and feel like the only person there without a partner. I can enjoy doing those things with the special people in my life, but I am often left wanting more.

Don’t get me wrong: the puzzle that is my new life is full of great pieces — my children, my family, my friends and more — and I’m truly grateful for that. But there’s still a missing piece.

A Special Welcome to CharlottesvilleFamily Readers

villageIf you’ve discovered this blog after reading my recent article in CharlottesvilleFamily magazine, WELCOME! I was thrilled to be able to share tips with other single parents on Building a Village of support.

I hope you’ll stick around and share my journey of pursuing happiness, following my passions and living a red hot life. Oh, and yes, loving Rick Springfield.

Thanks for stopping by!

Knowing My Bliss

It’s the middle of July. If you’re anything like me, your Facebook news feed is filled with vacation pictures from near and far. Lots of people are at the beach, and too many think sharing a photo of their feet is what their friends back home really want to see.

Although I have taken a few days off from work, I haven’t traveled anywhere this summer and I don’t have any plans to do so. Money, or lack thereof, is the primary reason. As a single parent, my funds are tight and a trip to the beach just isn’t in the cards right now.

At times, it can be depressing. Part of my job is managing social media, so bypassing those sunny vacation pics on Facebook isn’t exactly an option. I can minimize my exposure, but I can’t ignore it completely.

But the truth is that most days, I’m OK with it. I know this is a temporary situation — I can already see the light at the end of the tunnel. Besides, I’d rather wait and save my money to go somewhere I really want than do a super cheap vacation just to get away and risk being disappointed.

10384537_10204212334687704_987358305142080850_nIt hasn’t been all “summertime blues” for me, though. Last month, I saw Hall and Oates live for the first time with a college friend who is a huge H&O fan. It was amazing. Have you ever gotten goosebumps at a concert? I love it when that happens, and that night “She’s Gone” gave me serious goosies. And the icing on the cake? I got a little Twitter love from John Oates after the show.

It was around that time I realized that, in a lot of ways, concerts are my vacation, my escape, my “Liz time.” They always have been. I haven’t traveled as much in my life as I wish I had, but concerts? I’m well-traveled in that department. If I had a concert passport, it would have nearly 100 stamps in it. Having lived in either the D.C. area or Nashville for most of my life, I’ve had the opportunity to see a lot of great artists, and I’ve done the occasional road trip for a show too. I just love seeing and hearing a favorite artist or band bring their music to life.

There is something about being in the middle of your life and knowing your bliss, to paraphrase a lyric from Hall and Oates, and knowing what feeds your soul. Once you know that, it’s easy to figure out how to spend your time and, just as importantly, how not to.

So rather than beat myself up about not going some place sunny this year, I’m still feeling the glow of a great night of live music under the stars. And I’m planning my next show, and the next show after that …

What do you think? How have you fed your soul lately?