Category Archives: life lessons

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. . . .

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Family Reunion

Next weekend, various family members will be heading to MyState for a family reunion. The last time my siblings and I got together was for my mom’s 75th birthday. She will be 80 this year. Some family members are coming that I have not seen in years! I am excited! The only bad thing is that it is supposed to rain the whole time my extended family members are here. Oh, well.

I would not be as excited about this family reunion if I hadn’t taken a bold step last October. My middle son and I were talking one evening about the family reunion and he said something that made me think about my familial relationships. There was one family member that I had not gotten along with for years. I knew she would be at the family reunion. I did not want to make everyone uncomfortable by continuing this feud with her. I prayed and I asked for prayer because making peace with this family member was not real high on my “To Do” list.  Yet, I felt that it was something I needed to do.

I flew to the state this family member lived in. I stayed at another family member’s home and made arrangements to get together with the feuding family member. I knew I needed to approach her as honestly and sincerely as I could. Long story short, we resolved our differences. I was so relieved! Now, this family member and I are going to be first time Grandmas together – her first grandbaby is due two months before my first grandbaby. Now we will be able to share in one another’s joy.

Making peace with that family member was difficult. It is not something I would have done five or even two years ago! Yet, I knew this family reunion was coming up and I wanted to honor my mom’s 80th birthday by having the focus be on her and not on my feud with the other family member. It took courage and it took the willingness to do what I knew to be right even if the family member did not reciprocate.

So what does this have to do with being divorced? Do you have family members with whom you have not talked for a while – perhaps due to your divorce? Perhaps you and another family member said angry words to each other at one time? Perhaps you had a misunderstanding? I would urge you to resolve your differences as soon as possible. Pray about it, think about it, give it some time, but resolve to move forward to make peace.

Why? A couple of reasons: we are not promised tomorrow – make your peace today; you may see your family member at a family gathering – it’s much easier to be at peace with one another than to spoil the gathering for everyone else because you are feuding; and because the Bible commands it – Romans 12:18 states, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Be willing to live at peace with others. Stay tuned. . . .

Fear Not

Fear is a constant companion for many people – fear of death, fear of life, fear of making the wrong decision, fear of intimacy, fear of loss, etc. Fear is paralyzing – it will cause you not to act, not to reach out to others, and not to seek something better for yourself. Life is too short to allow fear to dictate your actions and decisions.

What’s the worst that can happen if you make a wrong decision? You learn from it. People make wrong decisions daily – some get them into trouble and some are just a temporary sidetrack to their life’s course. While some wrong decisions have permanent consequences, most don’t. Eventually, you will come out of those consequences and be able to continue on. For example, I made some wrong decisions that got me into debt I could not handle. I had to declare bankruptcy. The bankruptcy has since been discharged, but it will stay on my credit record for a while. The bankruptcy will fall of my credit record in a few years. So what do I do in the meantime? Pay bills on time, don’t open new credit accounts, don’t be easy prey for predatory lenders. Learn from the experience that got me into trouble in the first place.

Fear causes us to stand still in one place and not move through our lives. Fear robs us of the opportunity to learn valuable life lessons. Fear blocks our ability to have intimate relationships. Fear weighs us down with negativity. Fear hinders our desire to do and learn new things, to have new experiences and adventures. Fear likes nothing more than to keep us ineffectual and hidden. Fear tells us we are worthless and stupid.

Resolve to break away from fear! Just for today, do one thing you’ve been afraid to do. Call that lady you met at exercise class and go out for coffee – you may just make a new friend! Put in an application for that ‘ideal’ job you found online – it may change your life. Visit that Meet Up group that shares your same interests – you may find a group of kindred spirits. Visit the pet shelter and adopt that sweet senior dog or cat – you may give an animal joy in the twilight of their life.

Angels in the Bible were constantly telling those to whom they appeared to “Fear not!” God is not the author of fear and He knows fear is paralyzing. Step out in confidence. It’s okay to make a wrong decision, death is a part of life, and that person you will have coffee with may be just as intrepid as you are about making a new friend. Life is too short to allow fear to dictate your actions and decisions. Stay tuned . . . .

Everyone is Different

After ex’s initial foray into adultery, I began seeing a counselor. I saw her on and off for the next 10 years plus and into my divorce. When I finally divorced, she told me that on average it takes women two-and-a-half to three years to get over a divorce. It took me the better part of five years before I was finally able to let go of the pain of the divorce. It wasn’t until I saw another counselor for help with PTSD that I finally felt free of ex.

I remembered what the first counselor told me and I kept thinking, “Why can’t I get over this? Why is it taking me so long? She said between two and three years!” Sometimes, I felt hopeless. Then I realized that everyone is different.

For some women it may take less time to get over a divorce. For others, it will take longer. Why? I think your healing time depends on the size of your wound. One is able to recover from a paper cut much quicker than one is able to recover from a broken leg or major surgery. What happened in your marriage determines the amount of time it will take to heal from the divorce. If you experienced any kind of abuse – physical, mental, emotional, financial, verbal – it will take you longer to heal because abuse not only hurts your body, it hurts your soul. If you were in a co-dependent relationship, as I was, it will take a while to heal because you have to cut the chords that bind you to ex. You have to figure out a new ‘normal’. If you were betrayed through infidelity, it will take you some time to learn to trust again.

How long it takes you to heal from your divorce is up to you – no one else. There are three ways that I experienced (and continue to experience) healing from my divorce:

1. Support: I had two amazing friends who walked with me through the yucky years after my divorce. Cycle Dude was also there, but I kept as much of the yuck from him as I could. I did not burden him with how I was feeling. That was my baggage to get rid of before we got serious. I encourage you to find a support group or a couple of close friends who will be encouragers, accountability partners, and prayer warriors for you and with you.

2. Professional Help: Sometimes I just needed someone to tell me I was not crazy and would not run off the edge of the world. Sometimes I just needed someone to be objective, someone who didn’t really know me, to let me know it would be okay. Divorced women do indeed fight PTSD. Get help to heal.

3. An outlet: I journaled, I wrote poetry, I walked my dogs, I listened to music. If you keep everything that you are feeling bottled up inside of you, you will make yourself sick. He is not worth the price of your health. Physical activity is a good way to work off stress and anger. Getting your thoughts down on paper is a good way to decrease their negative power over you. Find something constructive to do with all that negative energy bound up inside of you. Let it out – but in good ways. You don’t want to hurt yourself (drugs, alcohol, overeating, not eating, etc.) or someone else because of those negative emotions. (Blogging in one of my outlets!) However, if you do find yourself in destructive behavior, please seek professional help immediately!

Remember that your healing journey is very personal – don’t let anyone put a timeline on your recovery. YOU are the one who is walking through this dark time. Dear one, know that you will come out on the other side of this a changed women (and hopefully for the better!). Hugs! Stay tuned. . . .

 

The Number of Our Days

I found out this morning that a former boss passed away back in November. She died of a stroke. She was only 45 years old. I am still in shock. She was a great boss.

We never know when we wake up in the morning if this will be our last day on earth. We never know what’s going to happen. God numbers our days. He alone knows how many we have. How do we live our lives in such a manner that we will be prepared for ‘the day’ when it comes?

1. Banish anger and bitterness: For most of my marriage, I was a very angry person. I woke up angry, stayed angry throughout the day and went to bed angry. After my divorce, I became incredibly bitter. Were my emotions affecting ex, the person they were directed to? Heavens, no! Those negative emotions were killing me! Holding onto anger and bitterness is senseless. Let it go.

2. Practice random acts of kindness: Next time you’re at the grocery store and there is an elderly person ahead of or behind you, pay for their groceries. Donate some dog or cat food to your nearest animal shelter. Rake the leaves in your neighbor’s yard. Go out of your way to be kind to a stranger.

3. Be generous with your time, money and resources: Do you have enough to live on – to cover your needs (not necessarily your wants)? Do you find that you have several hours of free time on the weekend? Donate to a cause, volunteer, take your unwanted stuff to a local thrift store. Whatever you have you can’t take with you. You may as well use it up while you’re still living!

4. Cultivate compassion: Don’t be so quick to lose your temper or to speak out of turn. Resolve to listen to others, to hear their heart, their passion and their dreams. Be an encouragement to others. Be quick to serve others.

5. Smile more: I think if more people smiled, it would lighten the mood that so often seems to bring us down. Have you ever watched the other drivers on your way to work? Those who are not on their phone are usually scowling. Smile in rush hour traffic. Smile as you walk down the hallway at work. Smile when you answer the phone! Smile – it increases your face value and makes people wonder what you’re up to.

6. Say “I love you”: Every day before Cycle Dude goes to work, I tell him I love him. Every time I talk to one of my children, my mom or my siblings, I tell them I love them. Do not hesitate to tell those you love that you love them. Don’t worry if it sounds ‘sappy’. You may not get another chance.

Life is waaay to short to spend it ill-tempered, harboring a grudge, hoarding your stuff or looking like an old sourpuss! Make your family and friends glad to know you! Leave them with good memories. Live one day at a time because it may be the last one you have. Stay tuned . . .

Beginning With Joy

Prior to my recent move, I asked a friend of mine to text me the questions one uses when sorting through stuff. One of the questions was, “Does it (the object) bring you joy?” If not, toss it or give it away. The thing is, so much of my stuff has to do with my children and they definitely bring me joy! Cycle Dude has given me until May 1 to sort through all my stuff. How do I condense all that joy?

Webster’s Dictionary defines joy as: “The emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires; delight; bliss.”

I must admit that joy was the furthest thing from my mind when I was going through my divorce. If you could have seen my emotions during that time, they were a swirl of nasty, acidic, putrid muck – rather akin to nuclear waste. Emotionally, I was a prime candidate for a Superfund cleanup site. Yuck, yuck and more yuck.

Yet, I had people around me who encouraged me to remember joy – my children, my best friends, Cycle Dude, my dogs. Moments of joy during my divorce were fleeting, but they were there. When I finally emerged from my toxic cocoon, almost five years later, I saw there were people waiting there for me – people who loved me and had my best interests at heart. It was not hard to feel joy, and gratitude, at their presence. My healing journey had taken on a whole new feel, beginning with joy.

Dear one, if you are at the point in your healing journey where you feel like toxic sludge, you are not alone. I encourage you to look for moments of joy – in God’s creation around you, in the laughter of your children, in the hug of a friend, in the taste of a delightful piece of chocolate! Your joy may come in bits and pieces right now, but soon, those bits and pieces will grow larger and larger. Joy is part of the healing journey. Stay tuned. . . .

 

 

Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions

The New Year is always  a time to make resolutions – what do you want to do different this year? Many people set lofty resolutions thinking, “This is the year I will ___________”. However, a couple of weeks down the road, the resolutions get tossed aside and the rest of the new year becomes one great big guilt party because we couldn’t keep those resolutions. We feel like a failure, disappointed in ourselves and feeling like we let others down. Maybe it’s time to learn how to set resolutions you can keep. When setting your New Year’s resolutions, think about the following:

1. Is it realistic? You want to lose weight. That’s always a great resolution. However, wanting to lose 50 pounds in one month is not so great. It’s unrealistic and it’s unhealthy. Start off with something you can do, like loose 2 pounds in a month. You may say, “But if I don’t push myself, it won’t happen.” Start off small. As you develop the habit of eating right, saving money, etc., then you can start to push yourself. My boss always says, “We gotta eat this elephant one bite at a time.”

2. Is it in character for you? Examine your motives for your resolutions. Are they for personal gain, to help others, etc.? Wanting to take a risk is fine (like learning to skydive), but if your resolutions are merely to satisfy others who think you should be doing x, y, and z, take a step back a refocus. Your resolutions should be for your benefit, not because others tell you that you need to do something.

3. Do you have the resources to do it? You may want to save $100 a month, but if you are a single mom with one income, that may not be so realistic. Start off small. Save $10 a paycheck, walk 1 miles a day, volunteer four hours on Saturday, etc. NOTE: Starting off small will develop a habit. It is better to start off small, to take small bites, than it is to go in way over your head and choke because you bit off too much.

4. Is it tweakable? My life motto is, “Blessed are they who are flexible, for they shall break and not bend”. You have to be willing to be flexible in your resolutions. You may have a large bill and may not be able to save as much money as you would like. In a situation like that, even saving just $5 is a step in the right direction.

5. Am I accountable? Keeping resolutions is easier if done in community. You have someone to whom you are accountable, who will ask you the hard questions and help keep you going in the right direction.

Finally, give yourself the grace to fail, because you will fail. However, failure doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or the resolution was unachievable. Failure means you are moving. Those who don’t fail don’t move. They don’t take the risk to grow and learn. Failure means you have to step back and reassess – why did I fail? Did I try to do too much? Did I experience a setback that was unexpected? Failure means you stop, analyze and move forward again.

This post is one in a series on “Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions”. Following posts will be about keeping your resolutions regarding weight loss, finances and relationships. Stay tuned. . .