Every Christmas, the people who are spiritual but not religious have to figure out what this all means. Like me, for example.

Each kid responds differently to religious upbringing. As adults, neither my latex (late-ex-husband) nor I ended up as fans of organized religion. While the Catholic little girl had desperately tried to fit as many Hail Mary’s and Glory Be’s in before falling asleep to help the poor souls in purgatory, the Lutheran boy had been bored with services but happy with the church strawberry festival.

Who knows what combination of Catholicism, environmental pressure to do everything correctly, and genetic predisposition toward perfectionism shaped me.

Our church was old and beautiful in an inorganic way. Its spiritual feeling felt other-worldly, like a lonely trip into space. I would go there for confession, when I would list the human things I did that were called sins. I would dwell in the sacred atmosphere, feeling elevated as I left in the state of grace.

You can cognitively reject doctrines, but it’s amazing how you can continue for years reacting to the normal imperfections that make up the fabric of Life and of you and of others as if they were sins.

Last night, my daughter and I hung the ornaments on our Christmas tree. Some represent times in North Carolina. Some are from when my latex and I were dating. Rural North Carolina was not a good fit for me. My husband divorced me. A lot of imperfection. But those same ornaments represent a lot of good things, too. And those bittersweet ornaments will proudly be on the tree with the sweet ones, because Life is like the tag on the pocketbook that knows that the imperfections in the leather are natural and in no way should be seen as flaws.

In my opinion, religions have a lot to offer if they aren’t taken literally, and the symbol of God in human form is no exception.

Maybe God is in our trying, not in our trying to not make mistakes.

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That’s the bad news. The good news is that this means I’ll live until 121.

I’ve stopped. The blur of the last five years is winding down.

I’m in a place ripe for planting a new life. But I’m like the North Carolina farmer who wants to continue planting tobacco even though nobody wants to smoke it.

I’m a homebody with a daughter who is balancing needing me, trying to find her own way, and rejecting me for all her problems. I am there for her, but it feels like I’m hugging a cactus. Besides, the ultimate goal is that she, like any kid, become an independent person. When you’re widowed, divorced, or both (as in my case), where does that leave you when you’re wired as homemaker? I enjoy making a home for myself, so I guess I’m not really a homebody for nobody, but I’m feeling an aching hole.

I’ve begun looking into volunteering. I think that would help me as well as others, but then you always hear how family is what really counts in life. So if you’re rejected by a spouse due to death or divorce, and your kids are supposed to be independent from you, is that really true that family is the most important thing? Aren’t we all destined to end up alone? Or am I “supposed to” remarry just to get a family? I don’t feel like it.

I know I’m “supposed to” get with people with similar interests. I am making attempts to connect over and above going to work every day. I get it. I’m doing it.

It’s just that my homemaker job turned out to be a temp position, and I’m pissed and upset with the layoff.

There is no security. Your security is in not expecting it.

I’m sure this blog post title will get me on some kind of government list, but if it gets my blog more hits, so be it.

Sunday I decided it might be my last chance to swim in the lake near my new home. The season is over, so it isn’t crowded. I had gone the weekend before to sit under the trees and read a book.

I’m not prissy about nature. I enthusiastically accept the excrement of wild animals as part of the environment.

When I sat in the wooded area the weekend before, I didn’t get grossed out about walking around the Canadian geese poop. Even though there was quite a bit of it, and even though it looked more carnivorous-mammalian than the green Canadian geese poop I sometimes dodged walking in North Carolina.

This visit, I headed to the sandy section. I don’t know why I expected it to be excrement-free. Does a bear sh*t in the woods? Would geese only sh*t in the woods?

No, and not only in the woods and in the sand. In the water, too. The whole bottom of the lake was like a big Canadian geese toilet.

This park charges during the summer season, albeit a small amount. One of my neighbors said this problem is controlled during the summer. But I’m wondering how it can be controlled IN the water?

I love the geese, but the turds were just everywhere. The turds were the main thing you saw. It was just too much. If these geese can produce that much sh*t since Labor Day, imagine what I’d be walking through by Christmas?

Well, I’m an ocean person anyway, so I guess I’ll try to get a swim in the Atlantic before the water gets too cold.

At least the ocean keeps flushing.

After you land, you think about the trip and gather what you have. Then you stand there waiting to walk through the portal.

Figuring out what happened to me will not happen talking with family and friends. It will not happen in a therapist’s office. They will all give me the hints and ideas and truths and non-truths from other perspectives. That’s it.

I was the one in the marriage. I could just walk through the portal. But I need to pause first.

This is what really happened. I know because I was there and because I want to be honest and face it.

Today I will face the tough part. Today I will face my role:

I was myself in the marriage, but not completely. This wasn’t honest. I was the part of myself that is endearing. The confrontational part was always finessed during confrontations because of my fear of being rejected. This was a well-founded fear, because when I finally did confront directly, I was rejected permanently.

Since an incident in October of 2008, I’ve gone through separation, family therapy, therapy with what became left of the family, pouring my thoughts onto paper, pouring my thoughts into cyberspace, lawyers, divorce, realtors, job interviews, moving companies…

I love where I’ve landed.

The visual of my experience is no longer the streaks from motion. I’ve stopped and things look different now.

I am starting to see through the eyes of a realistic woman. I am not a cynical woman. I am a woman who wanted to see magic and who got hurt by that.

I am a woman who knows that the world is already magical, and that it is best experienced while looking through clear lenses.

R*** B**** now legally owns our family homeplace. The closing was a couple of weeks ago. He has every legal right to landscape it to his liking.

My mom was right. That house, even in the summer, was never hot in the morning. Not with those trees in the backyard.

When Hurricane Sandy hit, a deer took shelter under one of the evergreen trees. A squirrel actually fitted his whole body into the squirrel feeder I had mounted to one of the hardwoods. My daughter and I stayed in the house. We all made it together.

During the storm, a limb fell and landed between the squirrel feeder tree and one of the other hardwoods. That limb stayed more securely anchored by nature than any manmade structure could ever be. It was a permanent bridge for the squirrels, who would cross it to get to the feeder.

I would sit in the backyard and watch them. I also enjoyed the company of an unbelievable variety of bird species at their feeders and their birdbath/water source (feeders and water also shared with the squirrels).

Yesterday, when I dropped by the old neighborhood, the first thing I saw was a little sign popping up in front of the property. It was supposed to be an advertisement for a tree service company. It really is a confession by a tree killing company.

All the backyard trees are gone. I guess R*** B**** will be dealing with the hot AM sun by cranking up the AC and diving into a new inground pool.

In the version of Earth that has man-made lines of who owns what, R*** B**** is the owner of that acre.