Category Archives: emotional strength

Apples and Oranges

One of my brothers and his wife just celebrated 30 years of wedded bliss this past weekend. They’ll tell you it’s not all been ‘bliss’ but downright hard work at times. Relationships usually are hard work. It’s that iron sharpening iron thing – there’s bound to be more than a few sparks.

Something inside me still winces at how long my siblings have been married. Several have been married longer than I was. Sometimes, I get angry about that – that I thought I would be celebrating so many years of marriage. But I will not. Then I think about how my decision to divorce was a matter of life and death for me. I could not continue in my marriage because it had become a nightmare.

I have been with Cycle Dude for almost 8 years. Comparing the time I was married to the time I have been with Cycle Dude is like comparing apples to oranges. Comparing my marriage to my siblings’ marriages is also like comparing apples to oranges. I don’t know what challenges my siblings have faced in their marriages. I know that none of them is married to the type of person I was married to or has to deal with the type escalating behavior I had to deal with.

We cannot compare ourselves to others – our lives, our marriages, our children, our possessions, etc. God creates us to be unique people, a people after His own heart, a people willing to be used by Him for His glory. Wherever we are in our lives, that’s where we are supposed to be. God knows we are not always going to make the right decisions, but He promises never, never, never to leave us or forsake us. Read the lyrics to “How Firm a Foundation”. There is so much wisdom in the old hymns.

God does not compare us. Rather, He likens us to parts of the same body. So, instead of saying, “Gee, I wish my  _____ (fill in the blank – life, marriage, etc.) was like hers”, say, “She is an eye, I am an ear – we are both part of the same body, the Body of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 12:14-31) We are not apples, nor are we oranges. We are different people with different gifts and talents – all for the glory of God. Stay tuned. . . .

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. . . .

The Tempest

In Shakespeare’s play, “The Tempest” caused a shipwreck that killed the main character’s enemies. One may feel that a divorce is like the tempest. Divorce is painful because it is the rending of two souls intimately joined by promise or covenant – that’s what the rings represent. Divorce can feel like a shipwreck, and all you are left with are splintered boards, broken glass and an oil slick on the water.

I have never endured a hurricane or a storm on the open sea. However, I have endured frightening thunderstorms in the Midwest and dust storms in Arizona. The tempest can take many forms – from thunderstorms whipping the atmosphere into a circular frenzy to mighty winds carrying dust into every nook and cranny and powerful storms over the ocean pushing the sea several miles inland. The tempest can also be the emotional storm that accompanies the ripping apart of a divorce.

I thought about this post this morning. I try to encourage others to walk through their divorce with courage, knowing there is light when you come out of the darkness. I know going through a divorce is not all butterflies and unicorns. I know it can be one of the darkest, ugliest and most frightening places you can be. I think only abuse and death are worse than divorce – at least for me.

Shakespeare’s character conjured up the storm for nefarious purposes. I know of One who calms the storm – for His glory. I can honestly say that if it had not been for my faith and the faith of two close friends, I would not have made it through the tempest. I also humbly admit that I did not ride out the storm as a saint. I rode out the storm screaming and shouting all the way – not out of fear, but out of anger and vengeance. I am not the ideal person to emulate during a divorce. However, I can proudly say that I am still standing, I have withstood the tempest because of the love of Christ.

The storm may be buffeting you all around. You may feel as if you do not have the strength to stand. Pray the prayer, “Help!” You will feel the hand of God calm the tempest and steady you. Have faith. Stay tuned. . . .

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. . . .

Life is Not Pinterest Perfect

Every now and then, I run across articles on the internet about ‘Pinterest fails’. You know the kind. Pinterest makes everything look so nice and easy, all wrapped up in the perfect little bow. However, life is far from Pinterest perfect, as the Pinterest fail photos will attest to. Some folks, try as they might to follow directions and attempt that perfect little clown’s head cupcake, just aren’t fated to be Pinterest success stories.

And that’s okay. Life is not Pinterest Perfect. What you don’t see on Pinterest is the many times Suzy tried that certain thing and failed, until the planets aligned just right and the 103rd time was the charm for that little clown head cupcake. How many times do we hear of success, but not the failure that led to that success?

We ought not be fooled that every success is achieved on the very first try. I would have liked to have met Thomas Edison. His attempt at the incandescent light bulb failed nearly 1,000 times. When asked about his ‘failures’, he stated that they were not failures, but ideas that didn’t work. He had the right attitude. He kept going until he got it right. I’m sure there were times when Thomas Edison was frustrated, but he didn’t let that frustration define him, or thwart his efforts. He had a vision and he kept the goal in sight.

As women who have been divorced mid-life, we may hear of other women’s successes – in marriage, in business, in romance, in life. We may look at their lives as ‘Pinterest perfect’. But they aren’t. No one’s life is perfect. You are on the path you are on for a reason. When I was going through a divorce, I heard of women who had amicable divorces, whose husbands paid alimony on time and who were “still friends” with their ex. I thought, “No way! That’s impossible!!” But did I know all the details? Did I know what their marriage had been like? No. Like Shakespeare said, “Appearances can be deceiving.”

Go ahead and set goals, and put your energy toward achieving them. Don’t put your energy toward the Pinterest Perfect Life – it’s a myth. BTW? The ‘Pinterest Fails’ serve one purpose – to show us that no one is perfect! Stay tuned. . . .

 

To Thine Own Self Be True

Back in October of 1966, Gilligan’s Island had an episode entitled, “The Producer”. Harold Hecuba, a Hollywood producer, crash lands on the island while on a trip to find new talent. The castaways stage a musical production of Hamlet in order to showcase Ginger’s talent to Mr. Hecuba. At the end of the play, the entire cast sings a chorus that ends with the words; “And there’s another thing you ought to do, to thine own self be true.” The Shakespeare character Polonius utters these words in the original play Hamlet. He means, “Do not deceive yourself.”

I spent the first few years of my adult life totally oblivious to myself. By that, I mean, I really didn’t know who I was, what I was capable of, what I thought about things and believed in and where I stood in the grand scheme of life. I think now, at the ripe old age of 50something, I understand myself.

When I was younger, I was easily influenced by others, even as a young wife and mother. I remember when Y2K rolled around. I eagerly jumped on the bandwagon of doomsday preparation because the group of women I hung around with told me to. I would not let my children read the Harry Potter books because the group of women I hung around with told me the books were evil. I did not hold ex accountable as leader our family because I was told to “just let him lead (in whatever way he deems appropriate)”. Wow. I’ve come a long way.

The one good thing about my divorce is that it forced me to get to know myself – apart from husband, children, influential friends, finances. I was stripped of everything I thought I needed to live a good life. The only constant in my life was my faith. I knew that I had to cling to Christ in order to “make it out alive”.

Now I am on the other side – of the divorce, of the second half of my life and of the process of getting to know who I am. I know what I believe in. I know what I am capable of. I know how I react to situations – physically, emotionally, financially. I will not allow myself to be influenced by others to think, do, and behave in ways I don’t believe in or that I question. I won’t blindly follow others like I did when I was younger. I guess it’s all part of growing up, maturing and understanding who I am – being true to myself. Stay tuned . . . .

Don’t Despair

My choice of radio program for news and current events is NPR. Recently, they did a piece on life expectancy and how that has changed in the US over the past 20 years. The research quoted in the piece concurs that the life expectancy for whites is decreasing, especially among poorer whites. That information can be discouraging. While reading that piece, I also read a companion piece entitled, “Explaining the Forces Driving the Middle Aged White People’s ‘Deaths of Despair’. The information and research presented is quite sobering.

Granted, the study dealt with white people, but other races may also feel the same way – that a lack of steady, well-paying jobs for those people without college degrees can cause distress and depression in their lives. I can see how this – the lack of meaningful employment – could cause such despair. I saw that in my ex when he lost job after job after job – and he had a college degree!

What is one to do in a situation like this? You’re middle-aged, don’t have a college degree, but need to be able to support yourself. Many divorced or divorcing women find themselves in this situation. Along with the divorce comes lack of self-confidence and depression. May I suggest the following?

1. Consider community resources: Look into the community resources where you live. Changes are there are low-cost or free (re)training classes in several skills – clerical, retail, etc. Take advantage of what is available to you in your community. Your local YWCA may also have resources available for women returning to the work force.

2. Consider a temporary job: Placement services are always looking for temporary workers to fill in where needed. Your local university and civil service (city and county government) also have temporary job pools available. Temporary opportunities are a way to get your foot in the door for a permanent job.

3. Consider online or evening classes: Many community colleges have evening classes that cater to the working adult. Speak to the financial aid department and find out what kind of aid is available to you in order to assist you going back to school to hone current skills or learn new skills.

4. Consider a support group: We were not meant to walk through life alone. Find a support group of either divorced women or women (re) entering the workforce. By being a group of similar-experienced people, you will find out that you are not alone in your pursuits.

Start out slowly, setting and accomplishing small goals. One example is to improve your keyboarding skills or note-taking skills. Celebrate the small victories you have. Those small victories will go a long way in building self-confidence. Don’t despair. There is hope, there are resources, and there is a way to be able to stand confident again. Stay tuned . . . .