Category Archives: being mindful

Going Gray

I colored my hair for years – blonde, auburn, dark brown. My natural hair color is a dirty dishwater blonde. Several years ago, I started going gray. In fact, I found my first gray hairs when my second son was in high school, as I knew I would. I thought I was too young to be gray. Then I met Cycle Dude. His natural hair color is a dark brown. He started going gray when he was in his late 40s. He is now 60 with a very attractive salt and pepper hair color. I thought, “If he’s not dying his hair, I won’t dye mine.” So, I didn’t.

Now, I have this dirty dishwater blonde hair with beautiful (gray) highlights. I’ve had several people ask me who does my hair color and highlights. I tell them it’s all natural. This morning when I looked in the mirror and saw my gray streaks, I thought, “My gray hair is like battle scars – I’ve earned every one of them and I am proud!”

Accepting my graying hair is accepting who I am. My hair is graying, I have scoliosis and I could stand to lose a few pounds. That’s who I am. I love Dove chocolate. If you’ve ever had Dove chocolate, you know they put little sayings inside the candy wrappers. One of my favorite sayings (that I have posted on my office bulletin board) is “Be proud of your age.” I am proud. I just turned 55. I have a good job, a man who loves me, three wonderful children and children-in law, my first grandbaby on the way, amazing siblings and mom, great friends and I live in a beautiful part of the country.

I accept that I am not perfect. I accept that I am not 25 anymore. I am looking forward to the rest of my life being who I am. I want to be a great Nonnie to my grandchildren. I want to be a wonderful companion to Cycle Dude. I want to be a loving mom to my adult children. I want to be a good daughter to my mom and a good sibling to my brothers and sisters. I want to be my best . . .  just the way I am!

Accept who you are. You are strong, you are beautiful and you are loved. . . . just the way you are! Stay tuned. . . .

Advertisements

Taking a Lesson From Nature

Back in March, I moved in with Cycle Dude. He lives 20 miles from where I lived in Mytown, so now I have quite a commute! I don’t mind the commute – I travel through some beautiful country to get to Myjob. One of the things I like about living at Cycle Dude’s house is the variety of wildlife – mammals, insects, and amphibians – that live around his house. One day last week, I came out of Cycle Dude’s house and saw this moth on the ground. (I did not know it at the time, but the moth was dead.)

I stopped and stared at this beautiful creature! I was amazed at how creative God is! I have never seen a moth like this – with its art deco wing pattern. I am not sure how this wing design functions as camouflage, but I think it’s beautiful!

I have been giving this little moth some thought. This critter can’t help but to be who he is. What if he wanted to be a beautiful Monarch butterfly? Or a breathtaking Luna moth? Or not a winged creature at all? He is who he is because he fills a unique role in creation. His wing pattern alone creates ‘Ooo’s!’ and ‘Ahh’s!” Maybe he is unique food for another critter – bird, amphibian or insect.

I am amazed at how creative God is! We are all who we are because we fill a unique role in creation. I am not rich or famous. I have told God that if my only purpose on earth was to have my children so they could be rich or famous or they could influence another’s life for the better, then so be it. That’s my unique role. No one is nothing – we are all part of the Grand Design. Remember “It’s a Wonderful Life” and how George Bailey wished he hadn’t been born? Remember when he realized all the people’s lives he touched for the better?

Take a lesson from nature – we are all beautiful and unique. There is only one you, only one person with your unique wing pattern! Praise God for your unique role in His creation! Stay tuned. . . .

Space A

When I was in college, I knew a young man who was in Air Force ROTC at another school out-of-state. He would fly home to my hometown to visit his parents (and me) “Space A” or “space available”. That meant that if there was a military flight leaving from his college town and going to my hometown that had ‘space available’ on the flight, he’d be able to fly home for free. He would call me and say, “I’m flying Space A this weekend. Can you pick me up at the base?” Of course I would. (Long story short, we were supposed to get married . . . .another story for another time.)

I’ve thought about ‘Space A’ over the years. What that really meant was that there was a space for that young man and that made him happy. These days, when I think about ‘Space A’, I think about people or things that I need to make space for in my life. It’s easy after a divorce to shut down and shut people out. The pain of a divorce, the sting of rejection by your spouse, the financial drain – all are reasons to shut down and shut out. It’s easier to crawl into a hole to lick your wounds and admit defeat than it is to stand out in the light of day, flex your muscles and move on with life.

What do you need ‘Space A’ for in your life? New goals and dreams? A new job? A pet? Volunteer work? Relationship(s) with your grown child(ren)? Crawl out of that hole and begin walking forward. You may find out that when you make ‘Space A’ for things and people in your life, you’ll experience a level of happiness you’ve not known before. Check it out. Stay tuned . . . . .

 

Rollercoaster

I remember when a theme park close to my home built a new rollercoaster. It had several loop-de-loops in it and ran fast. My children couldn’t wait to go on the rollercoaster! After much coaxing, they got me on the ride with them. However, I closed my eyes and screamed when we went on the loop-de-loops! I have always been afraid of heights and the rollercoaster scared me. My children said, “Aww, come on, Mom! That wasn’t scary!”

There are many times when life can seem like a rollercoaster – scary and not fun, ups and downs, twists and turns, moving so fast that you find it difficult to hold on. Your divorce recovery can feel the same way. I remember feeling happy that I was finally liberated from ex, but unhappy that my life was in such turmoil.

Some people don’t assess the risk of a rollercoaster before they get on the ride. They are all out gung-ho to feel the excitement of all the twists and turns, the stomach jarring drops, the negative G turns. Going through a divorce can be like that as well. You just want to be rid of that extra weight (ex) and you don’t give much thought to the ‘ride’ itself – the emotions you will face, finding your new normal, etc.

How does one assess the risk of divorce?

1. Are all your eggs in one basket and is he holding the basket? If he will not let you participate in the family finances or doesn’t allow you to see the bills, especially the credit card bills, there’s a good chance he is hiding something. Open up your own checking account. Open up your own credit card. Separate your finances and establish financial stability in your name only. Do not cosign for anything for any reason. And by all means, do not give him access to your accounts!

2. Who does the ‘lion’s share’ of work around the house? I found myself mowing the yard because ex would get ‘heart palpitations’ if he mowed (and his family has a history of heart issues). He complained about having to load and unload the dishwasher when I went back to school at night. Laundry went undone unless I did it. I was the one who cleaned the house, washed the cars, raked the leaves, etc. And I was working and going to school full-time, besides being a full-time Mom.

3. Are bills missing? Are there odd charges on household bills – cable, etc.? If you have any cause to question, question. Trust your gut. Chances are, he’s up to something.

4. If you feel that your marriage is headed that direction, get professional help: Marriage counseling is a good place to start. However, that’s not always successful. Professional help not only includes a good counselor, but also a good lawyer. Most lawyers will give you a free 30 minute session in order to help you determine a course of action. You need to protect yourself.

5. Protect your assets: Find out if your state has a community property law and what that would entail for your personal and shared assets in a divorce. Make sure the divorce decree spells out in detail who is responsible for what, how long, etc. There was one issue that was not intimately spelled out in my divorce decree and ex found the loophole. He shoved my face in it and left the state owing me more than $21K in alimony.

In my experience, divorce was the roughest when I was not prepared. I was not prepared for some of the actions ex took, even though they didn’t surprise me. I truly felt like I was on a rollercoaster. Divorce is painful, there’s no mistaking that. Hindsight is always 20/20 – we look back and see the red flags in our marriage and think about how we should have been more proactive when our gut told us something wasn’t right. If you are going through the rollercoaster of divorce right now, buckle up and make sure you are protected. Stay tuned . . . .

Pay It Forward

There were times when I was in college (the first time) that my parents would help me out financially from time to time. Ex’s parents would help us out in the early days of our marriage. My parents always told me they didn’t need to be repaid, but wanted me to “Go and do likewise for your own children.” There were many times when my children needed a little financial help as they were going through college. I did not hesitate to help them because I knew my parents had helped me.

There were some lean days early on in my divorce that I needed a little help financially. Friends would help where needed. I always paid them back and remembered their kindness and generosity. I have prayed to be more generous as I have experienced the generosity of others.

I have had the opportunity to be generous recently. I remember when others have helped me and I do not hesitate to pay that forward and help others. However, paying it forward doesn’t only mean financially. Your financial budget may be tight, but what about your time budget? You have the resources of time and capability. Give back as others have given to you.

This is the season of giving – not just of money, but of time and talent as well. Pay forward that random act of kindness, or that cheery email, or that smile from a stranger. Pay forward that warm greeting from a co-worker, or letting someone ahead of you in line at the grocery store, or that hug from a friend.

The weather outside may be frightful, but paying it forward is delightful! Stay tuned . . . .

Keeping the Green-Eyed Monster at Bay

The majority of my siblings either have been married longer than I was or are quickly approaching being married longer than I was. The majority of my siblings have two incomes and live in nice homes. The majority of my siblings could lose one income tomorrow and still be okay. It would be easy for me to be jealous over what the majority of my siblings have as compared to what I don’t have. There have even been times I have been jealous of ex.

Why give steam to the green-eyes monster? Why compare my life to the lives of my siblings or ex? I know my siblings have been through some dark times (financial hardship, infidelity, cancer, bad decisions) – their lives haven’t always been easy. We have all experienced things (good, bad and ugly) that have made us who we are today.

Instead of dwelling on what I don’t have, I dwell on what I do have. I have come out on the other side of a horrible marriage and gross divorce – I am still standing. I have the love of a wonderful man. My children and I love one another. I have a great job that I enjoy going to each day. I have a wonderful community of faith around me. I have amazing friends. I have two wonderful canine children. I have a roof over my head, food in the fridge, and gas in my car that runs. I live in a great city that experiences the four seasons. I have a great relationship with my siblings and my mom. I have good health.

On this first day of November, the month in which we celebrate Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the many blessings God has given me. I have just enough of everything in my life to be comfortable. Even though it has not always been that way, God has never abandoned me. For that, I am the most thankful!

Today as we prepare for Thanksgiving at the end of the month, stop and look around you. Be thankful for what you have instead of being jealous for what you don’t have. God is good. Stay tuned . . . .

What Do You Say?

A close family member recently experienced a miscarriage. I have experienced two miscarriages – one on New Year’s Day 1988 and the other seven months later in the middle of July, 1988. I spoke to this family member’s dad last night. He told me, “We don’t know what to say to her. What do you say?” I advised him on what NOT to say – things like, “You’ll have more children”, “God needed another angel”, “It was for the best”. Well-meaning people often do not know what to say, so they blurt out stupid things. Some will even quote scriptural platitudes in the hopes of providing comfort.

Often times, the best thing to say is very little, or “I’m here if you want to talk”. When you don’t know what to say, don’t say anything. Show the woman who is facing the miscarriage that you care – take her a meal, send a nice card, do something for her (clean her house, do her laundry, etc.).

Sometimes the loss of a miscarriage can be so devastating that the women can’t seem to get back into the swing of things. The risk of depression is very high. Be kind and gentle to the one who has experienced a miscarriage. Her husband or significant other is affected as well. He may feel helpless in the situation. Let him know his has your ear, too. Be there to offer comfort in the form of listening and don’t try to ‘fix it’. Coping with the loss of a miscarriage takes time to get over – just like any loss one experiences.

A woman and her family who face a miscarriage may want to memorialize the child. How they would do this depends on the age of the child.

  • If the little one was 12 weeks in utero or less, they may want to do something small to say goodbye – plant a tree or flowers, read a special poem or writing, release a balloon at a location that is special to them. Whatever they choose should signify the acknowledgement of the preciousness of that little life and help them gain closure.
  • If the child was older in utero, up until 9 months, the family will most likely want to have a funeral or a memorial service for the child. If they have already planned for the baby’s arrival, it will be difficult for them to go home to an empty nursery. They will experience grief in its different stages.

When I experienced my first miscarriage, it took me years to be able to watch the Rose Bowl Parade and not cry (we were watching the parade prior to the miscarriage). I probably should have gone to see a therapist, but never thought about it. At the time, it seemed that I just had to suck it up and get through it.

Bottom line –  be kind and gentle, be willing to listen to the pain, don’t try to fix it, don’t be a geyser of cliches or scripture platitudes. Give the couple time to heal. Love them and be there in the days, months and even years after the miscarriage to help them walk through a very painful time. Stay tuned . . . .