I know, you’re all waiting for my second installment of the Panama trip, aren’t you? I’m sorry to say that I’m not very motivated to write that part anymore because my life has taken a dramatic turn recently and my priorities have changed: Shortly after we returned home my husband and I decided to end our marriage of 16 years.

I’ve debated whether or not to write about this personal situation here. That’s why I haven’t written anything lately, because I felt blocked. It seemed somehow dishonest to go on writing about normal things as if everything is okay, when in reality my entire life has been turned upside down. But this blog has been an important part of my life for years, and I miss interacting with you all. So I’m going to be open about it in the hope that it will relieve the burden of the big secret I’ve been carrying on my shoulders. I’ve been writing furiously in my journal, of course, but that’s where I let all the crazy thoughts tumble out without editing them. But I think sharing some of my experiences here will serve another purpose — helping other people who find themselves in a similar situation. And since almost everything in my life  has changed recently, it will give me some comfort to maintain at least this one familiar thing as I go through this difficult transition.

White-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch

Despite realizing long ago that it would eventually come to this, it took me years to get up the courage to finally go through with the divorce. And it felt like jumping off a cliff without a parachute. I couldn’t sleep for weeks because I was terrified of having the conversation. And yet I knew it wasn’t fair to either of us to continue just going through the motions without our hearts being in it anymore. If there’s anything sadder than divorce, it’s settling for an unhappy marriage. Life is short and we both deserve better. It’s my hope that we can look back in a few years and be happier, healthier people.

So I’ve been in panic mode for the past couple of months as I tried to come to terms with what this means for my future. Along with all the emotional and financial turmoil that comes with a divorce, I’ve got the added problem of having no job and very little work history for the past 14 years. It’s going to take some time to get myself back into the work world after I get my head on straight again but I’m planning to resume my freelance indexing career and add proofreading services too.

Rochester Municipal Park bench and creek w sigI moved into an apartment a couple weeks ago and am pretty much settled in now, with just a few boxes that I can’t seem to fit anywhere. Moving from a 2700 square foot home to an 1100 square foot apartment meant that I had to let go of a lot of things that meant a great deal to me. It was torture trying to come to terms with not being able to take the antique furniture I’d discovered at flea markets, and my kayak, and — oh my gosh — my books. One day as I was trying to sort my books I ended up sitting on the floor in front of the bookcase sobbing my eyes out.

Rochester Municipal Park (13) (800x600)You may remember that I’ve written before about how much I love my books, here. But I had to tell myself that they’re just “things” and I can always borrow them from the library. One of the hardest things was leaving my beautiful knitting books behind. Those books are loaded with amazing photographs of sheep and lovely hand-dyed yarns…just really nice to browse through, even if I’m not knitting much anymore. So I took about 20 of them and left all the others behind to get donated to the library. I also took photos of all the books I couldn’t bring with me, so at least I won’t go nuts looking for something I don’t have anymore.

I reminded myself that I’ve been saying for years that I don’t need “stuff” and I wanted to simplify my life anyway. It’s just that having it forced on me in this way, when I’m already dealing with the grief over the loss of my marriage, was just one more trauma piled on top of everything else. It’s so easy to say, “I don’t need stuff” when you don’t have to let go of that stuff.  I’m so glad that I found a therapist to help me through this process, as she’s already taught me a lot about myself and talked me through some of the hardest parts of this whole thing. She helps me think through my fears and she’s helped me see that I really tend to beat myself up for my weaknesses, especially while I’m making such a huge transition in my life. So I’m trying hard to be kind to myself for the next couple of months as I adjust to my new reality and figure out who I am again.

Robin with red berry in beak w sigAnd of course I’m reading everything I can get my hands on about healing from divorce, about dealing with the grief. It’s very similar to how you feel when someone you love dies. You go through shock, sadness, and denial first, and then slowly you begin to function normally again. And eventually you have some happy days sprinkled in there. But then, when you least expect it, you’ll hear a song or watch a movie and be reminded of something that breaks your heart all over again. For a few weeks I couldn’t even listen to my iPod because every song seemed to be a reminder of the love I didn’t have any more. It’s an emotional roller coaster, that’s for sure.

But as bad as it’s been, I can see glimpses of light at the end of the tunnel now. On my good days I can almost picture myself happy again, leading a new and exciting life. And my friends have been incredibly supportive, sending me notes just to let me know they’re thinking of me. When my self-esteem is at its lowest they remind me of all my positive qualities. When I’m having a bad day and feeling sorry for myself, getting even a one-sentence text or email can make it a lot easier to get through it.

Chickadee on red sumac w sig
Black-capped Chickadee feasting on sumac seeds

One of the saddest parts of moving to an apartment has been the loss of the two acres of woods that surrounded our house. I’ve written many times about how much I loved the wide variety of wildlife that visited our yard. In my apartment search I made a priority of finding a place with big trees and as much privacy as I could. Most apartment communities are arranged so your view is likely to be of another apartment building, but I was really lucky to find a place where my view is of a lovely strip of woods. There are two sumac trees right outside my windows (although they look like they’re almost dead), and big cottonwoods and oaks too. The fall colors are beautiful right now.  I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that I started my new “yard bird list” on the day I moved in. Since October 1st I’ve seen 17 species of birds already, without even stepping outside the apartment. And even better, I’m getting close up views of them when they come to the sumacs. The sumac trees are a big draw for birds that love feasting on the big seed heads, so I have hopes of good birding all winter long here.

All of the photos in this post were taken after I moved into the apartment. Looking at the photos helps convince me that I’m going to be alright here. My living space is comfortable, my cats are settled in, and I still have birds! Birds have been such a blessing in my life in recent years. They’ve taught me lessons about nature. They’ve graced me with their beauty and resilience and charm. They’ve brought me the best friends I’ve had in my entire life, kind-hearted people who share my respect for the natural world and who accept me for who I am. Even when I don’t know who I am.

Yes, thanks to birds and birders, I’m going to be alright.

Northern Flicker right outside my window
Northern Flicker right outside my window


  1. This is such a beautifully written heartfelt piece, Kim! Your sharing your insightful self-growth helps others as you help yourself heal and move forward. Sending you healing wishes for continued inner strength, Roxanne


  2. Kim I was sorry to read about your struggles, we never know whats around the next corner and no one is immune from relationship issues. I hope you are healing and taking the steps towards a new road and life. I have been dreaming of hummingbirds ever since your last post.


  3. Kim, you must have felt so displaced. Marriage breakdown is tough, and it takes a lot out of a person, both HSP’s like us, and non-HSP’s. But I know you are going to be alright.
    I’m relieved you still have birds! ( And your cats too, of course, but that goes without saying 😉 )
    Jennifer xo


    • Yes, Jennifer, I did feel displaced. Since I only moved a few miles away I was able to go back to the house to pick up things a couple times, and it was the weirdest feeling to walk into my own house and feel like a stranger. Surreal.
      On the positive side though, I went back today for (hopefully) the last time, and I felt much more detached from it this time. I think that’s a good thing. Thanks for commenting.


  4. Thank you for your honesty, Kim, and your willingness to share in the hope it might help others. You are a very courageous person. It took a tremendous amount of courage to admit that what you had wasn’t working, and also to talk about it here. I’ve thought of you often since your last post. I’m relieved to hear you say you’re going to be alright.


  5. This was an amazingly honest and beautiful post. Thank you for having the courage to share! My heart hurt with you when reading, but it also sounds like beauty and hope are making their way into your life despite everything. Soon, it will all feel so much better. For now, I wish you lots of comforting, inspiring, empowering moments in the new apartment. Birds, friends, and cats — the best companions to help you all the way through it!


    • Thanks for the good wishes. I hope by writing this I might help someone else to realize that they aren’t alone, and that life goes on even when you think it can’t, and that things will get better eventually. (Well, I’m hoping that last part is true…stay tuned.)


      • You definitely helped me, even though I am experiencing something completely different and less severe. Keep up the beautiful writing and the hopeful heart 🙂 Everything is transitory, above all feelings!


  6. What a beautiful and heart-felt piece you have written! I admire your courage and pluck to begin an adventure to discover who you are – you have given yourself wings to fly. Already I see a positive tone to your transitioning and inklings of happiness about still being able to tap into nature where you live. Shedding “stuff” can be amazingly liberating. I have just finished the book, “The Lakota Way” where a few stories specifically target generosity in letting go of possessions. You are brave… I am excited to learn more about this journey you are embarking on!


    • Lori, thank you for always being here for me and helping me to see things in a more positive light. I think of you every time I watch a turkey vulture soaring overhead, and am reminded that I’m never alone as long as I have amazing friends like you.


  7. This couldn’t have been an easy post to write. One of the best ways to heal is to put your thoughts down in writing, just as you have done here. I don’t know you well Kim, and yet through our brief meetings, and especially through your blog, you seem like an old friend. I know we share the same love of nature. Lean on me whenever you are comfortable. Best wishes for a speedy recovery and happy shooting, and I’ll see you on the trails.


  8. Thank you for sharing with us during this difficult time in your life. Know that there are many of us who have walked the same path as you are (myself 13 years ago). Your life will have many more changes, and I hope for you that they are positive and fulfilling.


  9. Yes, you will be alright. Give yourself some credit for not settling. It takes courage & you have shown that. More so than many other men & women. Peace & love to you, Kim.


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