Finding balance and the D word

I’ve been absent from one of my favorite mediums- twitter! I miss the interactions and I actually miss blogging, being part of the twitter sewcialist antics, getting swept up by new patterns… but I’ve turn inward lately.

Some of you know where I’m going with this. Basically, in mid January, my husband walked out and asked for a divorce. “Asked” is used liberally here. Things have been rocky for us over the last year and he had wanted a divorce back then so once he started talking about it again, and his bag was already packed, and other things were lined up for him, I could tell he had moved on and I gave him leave.

Today is a good day. I don’t always have good days but they’re happening more and more. I hesitated blogging about this but here I am, doing it. Freeing my voice. Opening the windows and letting the fresh soon-to-be Spring breeze in, full of life and possibilities. It’s my only choice. I am not a victim. I am feeling the loss of a relationship but I also am feeling a freedom I haven’t felt in a long time. We’re talking worlds and oysters sort of thing.

So, this is what I was thinking about last night. What can I handle right now? I’ve been a stay-at-home homeschooling mom for the last 7 years. I have little earning potential and only had the beginning of a theater career that I left when I had my first child. Not a money maker.

I’m starting at the bottom and I decided I’d try waiting tables. I want to prove to myself that I can. And I’m doing it. I’ve never worked in a restaurant before and I’m doing it. You can imagine my surprise when I got the job the day I went to turn in my application! Lucky Leila! My co-workers are also incredibly nice and hard working. It really is a team effort. I’m doing that a couple of nights a week and one weekend day. I’m also finishing up some teaching (sewing) gigs I had already lined up before I had to start processing a divorce. I’m still with Lolita Patterns, as you’ve probably noticed from my few and far between tweets of late. I’m not leaving Lolita! I love working with Amity.

I get overwhelmed with everything from time to time. I mean, I have to settle papers to get my kids into school for the first time ever, figure out occasional daytime care so I can get any freelance sewing work done and somewhere in there try to find a minute or two where I get downtime. And find more work.

But then a friend of mine was telling me about this idea of thinking of a pitcher full of water and putting in tennis balls to symbolize the most important things in your life. The ones you must give attention to. Once those have settled, you can begin to think about the other things that you’d like to do and they become like small peas, easily making their way into the water, bouncing off the tennis balls.

I liked this image so much, I decided to buy a pitcher and tennis balls, label them and set the pitcher on my kitchen counter so I could remind myself of the most important things in my life right now.

But when I went to buy my pitcher I couldn’t decide if I had enough in me for a gallon pitcher or just a 2 quart pitcher. I went with the smaller one since I already have a lot on my plate and I want this to be manageable; sustainable. I can imagine that in time I’ll graduate myself to the gallon pitcher.


What’s important?

1. My health (emotional and physical)

2. My kids

3. My finances

IMG_20140303_094301043 IMG_20140303_094408325

When I can see the tennis balls in my pitcher, on my counter, life becomes clear and manageable. I can then deal with the pain of dividing up our assets and settling on visitation for my soon-to-be-Ex. I have three things that, should I have a bad day, are the only things that will hit the to-do list. I can handle that. I can breathe again. It feels great!

And since this is my place now. I get to do all the things I’ve wanted to do. Like…

Having plants!

IMG_20140227_142836279 IMG_20140227_144214769

and having fun sheets! Just two things for now but they’re reminding me that I am in charge of what’s to come. I have a lot to navigate in the coming months but if I can keep my priorities straight (the tennis balls) and look ahead at some goals that have been in the back of my mind for a long time then I will be okay.


I never thought I’d be a divorced, mother of two.


How come I’m still smiling?? Right! Well, I have the best support system. I’ve spoken to a handful of my twitter/blogger friends and have found nothing but loving, caring, compassionate people. And I’m completely moved by this. I also feel lucky to have a great in-town support system, too. Just when I start to feel overwhelmed, I’ll get a call or text from someone asking how I am and if they can come over. Between visits, txts, Skype, phone calls and emails, I’m well taken care of! And I’m reaching out to friends. I’m not ashamed of any of this and there’s no reason to isolate myself- it’s not good for my mental health. It is what it is. I need to look to the future. Chin up and all that.

I can’t imagine I’m covering everything in this post. I hope to get back to sewing but, as you can imagine, I have to wrap my head around a number of things.

I feel very lucky to have the friends I have.

I don’t feel alone.

Here’s to a new life chapter!

80 thoughts on “Finding balance and the D word

  1. disparatedisciplines says:

    Hugs Leila! It sounds like you’re on a good path and being very smart in taking care of yourself. The online sewing community will always be here when you’re ready to start making things again. xoxox

  2. ThreadTime says:

    Best of luck, Leila. I wish you and your children didn’t have to face this. At the same time, we can grow to be amazing people through the adversity we survive. I pray that God blesses you through this time.

    • Leila says:

      Thank you Ramona. What you’ve said is really touching. I agree. I wish the kids and I didn’t have to go thru this but adversity can be truly amazing, too. It’s all in spinning things to the positive.

  3. Brooke says:

    {{{hugs}}} I’m glad you are being open about everything and refuse to be a victim! The offer still stands for resume help and you have my number (call/text whenever!). You have so many options and wonderful possibilities for the life ahead of you.

    I miss you on Twitter, but I’ve been rather absent myself lately. Hopefully, spring will bring more manageable schedules for all of us!

    • Leila says:

      Thanks Brooke. I’ll be taking you up on your calling/txting offer. Thank you also for your resume help. Let’s hope all this cold weather melts not only the snow but the stress that my marriage has brought.

  4. clareyszabo says:

    I’m so proud of you for writing this. I know what a struggle it’s been for you, not just recently, but you’re strength and ability to keep moving forward is inspiring. I love the tennis ball and pitcher idea, it’s so simple yet massively effective. Perspective is such a great thing and the tennis balls will help you focus. You’re my prison love, my friend, and a brilliant woman single or not! Love those sheets. Can’t wait to sleep over ๐Ÿ˜‰ xxx

  5. sewingonpins says:

    You don’t know me, but we’re part of the same community, and that practically makes us family. I’m sending you the biggest warmest hugs from Canada’s subarctic (we’re really good at those, here)! I love your tennis ball plan, and love even more that you made a real one to remind you what’s important. You’re a strong brave woman with a lot of people who have your back, and I know you’ll be fine. *BIG HUGS*

    • Leila says:

      We are totally part of the same community. This is what I love about the online sewing world. I feel really close to so many of my online sewing friends. Ever since I put my pitcher of tennis balls on my counter, I have felt this serenity I couldn’t have anticipated from such a simple gesture.

  6. K-Line says:

    So sorry to hear this, Leila. But your optimism is very front and centre and I have no doubts that you will get through this – and very well at that.

  7. annekecaramin says:

    All the best to you! I can’t really speak out of experience but I am the child of a single mother, and while things were never truly easy, everything turned out fine on the end!

  8. CGCouture says:

    I grew up with divorced parents, so I truly hope that you and your ex can do this amicably. I like how you took that parable and decided to make it literal–sometimes we all need a visual reminder of all the important things and the blessings we have in life. Especially when it seems like the world has just fallen off its axis. It sounds like you are handling this well, and you’ll be back on your feet in no time. ๐Ÿ™‚ Just the same, *HUGS* and prayers are heading your way!

    • Leila says:

      Thank you for the support. So far, things are decently amicable…tho him walking out on me and the kids hasn’t felt like anything amicable.

      For now, I’m putting one foot in front of the other and I feel lucky that a lot of things are falling into place. Thanks for the prayers and hugs.

  9. Helen says:

    Gosh how hard for you. I’m so sorry. I think it is a really positive step to have created a “real” visual reminder of your priorities. I pray that the challenges you are facing now will lead to new and exciting possibilities in your future.

    I’m glad to hear you have a great support system around you. Much love and virtual hugs to you

  10. Lynn says:

    I wish you much luck in not only finding a new way to live life, but in finding a new you who is happy with the present. I think the only thing worse than losing a partner in divorce is staying with a partner with whom you no longer have a connection and a desire to build a life with. Whatever else you do, remember to get someone to represent your interests as the divorce progresses — he may not think he owes you a thing, but he certainly owes your children support and a father they can count on.

  11. prttynpnk says:

    Im proud of you. This whole post didnt have one negative thing to say about your husband. You arent going to let the divorce define you. Its hard not to do those things and you are soldiering on and you will rise again- this too shall pass. Ive been there and looking back it seems like it was another lifetime. You will get a do over and you will be ready for it!

  12. All Patterns Heather (@KnitNBee) says:

    Hugs to you sweetie. You’ve got the right attitude about this. I know you can do anything you set your mind to. I’m glad you have a local support system to help you out with the kids and I hope that you find ways to support the 3 of you. We’ll help when we can. XOXOX

  13. theseedsof3 says:

    Oh, no! Leila, I had no idea. Marriages are hard, but sometimes the hardest thing is letting go when it is over. You have your priorities/tennis balls straight and you are a strong person. You’ll do just fine. And, when you hit a rough patch, we’re all here for you.

  14. Roisin Muldoon says:

    I wish you didn’t have to experience this, and that I had something more helpful to say! I’m glad you’re feeling positive though, and that you have a support network. Reach out when you need to. We’ll be here x

  15. Kat Jackson says:

    Leila, you are a tough lady for moving ahead and sharing this with us! I know you’ve got the resourcefulness to make life good for you and your kids. You know you can ask any of us for help if you need it ๐Ÿ™‚ Thinking of you! (PS I love the fun sheets)

    • Leila says:

      Thanks Kat. I appreciate you saying this. It amazing how down you get when your life takes this kind of turn but if anything i feel good today. And i have to take things day by day. ๐Ÿ™‚ I will ask.

  16. Becky says:

    Sorry to hear that this happened, but you’ve got a great positive outlook on the whole situation. Sending many wishes for a smooth transition into this new life for you and the kids, and as someone said earlier, the sewing community will still be here when things are more settled for you. ((hugs))

  17. Ms. McCall says:

    I’m so sorry that you’re going through this, but I often think that sad things like bad relationships take up so so much energy, they’re like a double sized tennis ball. You only have room for new happy-making things if you take out the bad thing. I wish you new happy tennis balls in the future xxx

    • Leila says:

      What a wonderful thing to say. And I couldn’t agree more. Bad relationships can be so toxic. I only want regular sized tennis balls from here on out. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. rrregena says:

    oh my goodness. Lots of prayers and virtual support. I can’t imagine all the downs and ups you are going through. You Will survive and thrive and before you know it, add some pebbles to your pitcher.

  19. Jennifer Severson says:

    Leila thank you for sharing and for keeping a positive outlook. Wishing you and your children a easy transition to your new life. ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Betsy says:

    Hi Leila,

    It’s evident from reading your posts over time that you are a smart, multi talented woman. You are also a pretty gal and looked so lovely in your costumes in the latest costume posts. That fellow must be nuts!

    These yucky passages happen in life, and can be quite a big blow. You are blessed that unlike many others, you have a well of creativity and inventiveness and intelligence to sustain you, which will help you and your children go forward. Not everyone is that sharp. You seem to have a good handle on things already. Congratulations on getting a job so quickly.

    As you know, people are not upset by THINGS, they are upset by the view they take of them, and we can control that view. Your realistic attitude will make the negatives into pluses.

    My husband used to say, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” While you are out making all these changes, I bet wonderful new things will come your way.

    Meanwhile, enjoy the new plants–and the sheets, and your independence.

    You have many well wishers. I’ll say prayers for you, and please keep us posted.

  21. Emma Jayne says:

    Keep practising juggling those tennis balls and the peas will come easily soon enough. Plus, if you never imagined you’d be in this position then you never know what other situations (good ones!) you might be in at some point in the future.

  22. Joost De Cock (@j__st) says:

    I am so proud of you for how you are coping with this. You are doing great.

    When there’s difficult times, remember that I love you, as do many others, and that we’re always here for you. There is a room in our hearts with your name on the door. It has loads of plants and super fun sheets. We can listen, we can love, and when the night gets darkest, we will raise an army and fight our way back to the sunlight.

  23. Karen * WinkyBlinky says:

    Hang in there! It gets slowly easier. (know that some days will be more challenging) Don’t be afraid to ask for help. We are here for you. I fought for mine too, until I realized I was the only one doing just that. Almost 10 years later I am so much happier & I know you will be too. Big hugs

  24. maevef2014 says:

    Hi Leila. You have a great attitude and this will get you through this time. As many have said before you are a very talented woman and it’ll all work out for you soon. The world is your oyster! Mind yourself and your two beautiful kiddies. We are always here and on Twitter for you.

  25. gingermakes says:

    Leila, I’m so sorry that you’re going through this tough time, but I’m glad that you’re moving forward in such a positive way. I’m so glad you found a new job and that’s it going well! I waited tables off and on for ten years (wow, that sounds crazy!) and I loved it- it’s a great job for someone who’s social and likes working with other people, which you strike me as. I’m glad, too, that this time has helped you to assess and reprioritize your life. I’m so proud of you for deciding what’s important and working to structure your life accordingly. I’m here for you and I know that so many other people are, too!

    • Leila says:

      Wow. 10 years. That’s awesome! One of the managers told me that she thought I was a natural. It felt so nice to hear that. ๐Ÿ™‚
      And thanks. Thanks for lending an ear.

  26. Janet says:

    Lots of love and hugs. I think it is awesome you are a server in a restaurant. Wow. Baby steps,โ€ฆ.I love the tennis ball metaphor – so concrete. Hang in there! We love you here out in cyberspace. ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. Sunni says:

    My best to you as you survive/get through this hard turn in life! You are such a resilient lady and are so incredibly talented that, there is no doubt, you will come out stronger in the end. You probably already know this, but definitely keep sewing because it will end up opening doors you never thought possible. Hugs!

    • Leila says:

      It’s so nice to be reminded to sew, actually. It’s something that’s definitely taken a back seat and it’s hard to be going thru this without my creative outlet. thanks for the hugs. ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. jagodas says:

    Hear, hear! I love your attitude in this incredibly difficult time. I wish my mom was more like that when my parents were divorcing when I was a kid, although I know she did the best she could… I wish you a lot of strength, health and patience. Big hugs!

  29. Bird and Bicycle says:

    My heart is with you Leila! I can see all the changes you have accomplished since I met you, sewing gigs, health improvements, and you have a big wide open world to you. I am here if you ever need me!

  30. laurahoj says:

    I’ve been thinking about you in the last week. I was going to send you a message yesterday, but kids kind of took over. I had the feeling this was what was going on. You as a waitress sounds fabulous! I’m sure you are great at it. I love that you got a pitcher and tennis balls after hearing that. Such a great visual reminder. We’ve missed you on twitter, for sure. We’ve got your back and are here for you if you need to reach out.

  31. velosewer says:

    Hi Leila.
    You are such a talented person and I’m so glad you’ve come this far and are smiling. Stick to your goals.
    Your colleagues can see what a wonderful person you are – just like the rest of us.

  32. macinic says:

    Thank You for posting and I love your smile & yes, that you have a physical pitcher and tennis balls. You are strong, and fabulous, and this time too shall pass and the future is full of unimagined possibilities. You’re doing an amazing job & are a great mum.

  33. O! Jolly! says:

    Here’s to new beginnings, Leila! How wonderful you have your priorities straight and a solid support system. Amazing things are in your future. I know it!

  34. Gjeometry says:

    I actually found myself smiling reading your thoughts (not smiling about what has happened but about how you are dealing with it). You sound like you are in a very good state of mind and thinking clearly and positively. And that is a very good thing! I can only imagine how hard it must be. Big hugs to you and the kids. Email me anytime you like. I’ve been the ‘middle man’ thru a few loved ones’ divorces and am more than happy to talk with you about it. Life happens. We just try our best to keep up. xo

  35. Wendy says:

    Sending love your way. I’m very sorry you’re going through all this, but you seem to me to be a strong person and will find your way and what is best for you and your children! I think you have a very good system of focusing on what’s important, I’m sure this will help you. And I’m happy that you have a support system to fall back on when things aren’t all sunshine and rainbows!

  36. Tabatha Tweedie says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about your marriage troubles. But I think divorce can be empowering if you choose to view it that way, and it strikes me that you already are trying to deal with it positively, by sharing your experience with us, getting yourself a job, and the small things like plants and bedding. You’re taking control of your life and that is a wonderful thing. As others have said, you’re an amazingly talented, intelligent, strong and beautiful woman and although this time is going to be tough, just think of all the wonderful opportunities that pave your way into the future! Wishing you and your children all the strength and courage in the world to get through this. I may not have ever met you, but I’d be happy to help in any way possible. Lots of love x

  37. knitmo says:

    Love and hugs to you. You are proving exactly how strong and resilient you are. So many exciting things can come your way, now that your are more free and unburdened with a bad relationship.

  38. Helena says:

    I’m sorry to hear about the break-up of your marriage but I admire your attitude and I am certain you will come out of it stronger than before.

  39. Jennifer says:

    I am so sorry to hear this. I’m also so impressed by your attitude. You’re obviously a strong, levelheaded, not to mention talented, woman and I am confident you’ll pull through this and thrive.

    You know we’re all just a tweet away if you need anything ๐Ÿ™‚

  40. LolitaPatterns says:

    Iโ€™m so proud of you and your outlook! It is wonderful that you are able to concentrate on all the positives โ€”now nothing is standing in your wayโ€ฆthis is your time to shine! As you know, I love you to piecesโ€ฆand so does everyone else! Iโ€™m always here ๐Ÿ™‚ โค

  41. sew2pro says:

    Oh this has really upset me: I’m so sorry.

    But, you will be fine. And your children will be fine.
    Your career break hasn’t been that long and you’re vibrant, smart and approachable. You’ll get snapped up!

    In London we have a job agency called Women Like Us/Timewise who specialise in recruiting those who work around the school day. If you don’t have something similar, you could maybe start one. But take your time and treat yourself with love.

  42. Trice says:

    Lelia, we have talked, but I want you to know I love ya dear and you know you can contact me if you need to talk, scream or just laugh. I miss seeing you around the internet but I know day to day life just gets in the way. Any bad days you have just turn them into “Make myself more awesome days” Don’t forget to Treat yo self. You are amazing women.

  43. Chuleenan says:

    Oh, my – I’ve also been largely absent from Twitter (except for IG) and I haven’t had time to visit blogs but when I saw that you had a new post I made note to check it out and I’m so glad I did. I’m very sorry you and your kids have to go through this difficult time. But I applaud your positive attitude. When we met last fall with other sewcialists, I remember
    thinking – “Gee, Leila has such a bubbly and cheerful spirit.” I’m happy to see that despite your current challenges, your indomitable spirit prevails. I wish you all the best as you go through your divorce. [hugs]

  44. OhhhLulu says:

    Hi Leila, I am really sorry to hear you and your kids are going through this. A very scary change in life, but it also sounds like some new opportunities are ahead with your new job; new faces to meet and experiences to have. This post was so honest and UPLIFTING! It sounds like you are a very strong woman, and a fantastic role model for your kids.

  45. Laurie says:

    Leila- I know what you are going through and I think you are showing marvelous resilience. I am on year 12 of being a divorced mom of 4… I remember having to find a place to live and find a job after being a stay at home mom. I remember having to work it all out pretty much by myself! Probably all the things you have had to go through emotion wise and “life” wise! I did have it “easier” because my ex didn’t have much to do with the kids so they became ALL MINE pretty much! (I saw your IG post about missing your kids and was devastated for you. Can’t imagine being w/o mine!) So big hugs your way Leila and I wish you all the best. I can tell you are strong and you are going to have an amazing future despite this. I love how you mentioned you get to have plants and fun sheets! And to go out and get a job on day #1! You are awesome! ๐Ÿ™‚ Wishing you and your kiddos all the best! xoxo

  46. loranc says:

    Leila – I’m so sorry. I was a single mom for most of my daughter’s life. At first it was HARD, then I woke up one morning and realized I didn’t have to worry about what “he” was thinking or feeling and I didn’t have to walk around on tiptoes any more. All of a sudden the sun was brighter and the mood easier. That afternoon I came home from work, exhausted as usual, but when I went to open the front door I realized I knew EXACTLY what was on the other side! The dishes we had left were waiting for us, the tub I had just cleaned was still clean, the beds were made, etc. I started buying flowers again knowing they would be waiting for me when I got home. When I opened the mail box I didn’t have to worry about what I would find (although it took several more years before I didn’t have automatic panic attacks when I saw an envelope from the bank) because I was the one paying all the bills, and on time!
    It WAS tough at first, but then it got easier and now I wouldn’t trade that time in my life for anything. I learned bunches of life lessons that served me well. You will be FINE. Your kids will be FINE. Keep sewing, you never know where that will take you. I ended up sewing my way out of debt after my divorce and there really was a day that I wrote that last check and was free : ) And I did this all without him, for his decisions had him exit our lives when my daughter was 6 and we’ve never seen him again. I only wish I had left sooner, but it worked out the way it needed to. This is the BEGINNING of your lives and it will all work out.

    • Leila says:

      Thank you for this.I really need to keep sewing. I would love for it to be my main income. That’s the dream. I hope I have your strength and perseverance!

  47. Elena Knits says:

    I haven’t read blogs lately, I’m still catching up and I read this. What I can tell you is you will find your way in this new chapter of your life. My mother had the same 10 years ago and it was very hard for her because this happening when you’re 50 something is a very hard blow. But you’re still young and have two wonderful kids to live for. You will enjoy your freedom only if you learn to appreciate it. I wish you the best on this new chapter and I really hope your finances start go well, since you already have the other two important things in your life. Take care.

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