Category Archives: living life

Another Season

My youngest niece will graduate from high school tomorrow. She is the last of my siblings’ children to graduate from high school. Her graduation represents the end of an era – no more nieces or nephews in K-12 school. Earlier this month, my youngest sister’s oldest son graduated from college. My little sister doesn’t look old enough to have a son that age!

Both my niece and my nephew are moving on to another season in their lives. My niece will go to college clear across the country on a diving scholarship and my nephew will move on to get a graduate degree. I am excited for the adventures that are ahead for these two young people. I can’t wait to go watch my niece dive and hear about my nephews studies.

Getting divorced and walking forward as just me was another season in my life. It was scary and I was anxious. I had a great support system to help me along the way and I had my faith ion God. Each new phase of our lives is another season. How do we handle those seasons? Do we wither and fall or do we weather and flourish? Do we succumb or do we succeed?

This may be a time-worn cliché, but I think it’s worth repeating. The mighty oak tree grows from a single small acorn. The tiny seedling grows stronger with each passing year. Soon, it is home to birds and other animals. Oak is a tough wood that has been used for centuries to make homes, furniture, and tools. As we enter new seasons in our lives, we need to look to the oak tree as an example and stand strong. Stay tuned. . . .

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Dogwood Winter

Here in Mytown, we are in the throes of Dogwood Winter. Before June 1 rolls around, we’ll have also gone through Blackberry Winter and several others. What that mean is that it will start to warm up and we’ll all think winter is over. Then, we’ll get into the lower 30’s again for the nighttime lows and not make it out of the 40’s or 50’s for the daytime highs. Eventually, though, winter will finally leave and we’ll enjoy a short spring and a long, humid summer.

Healing after a divorce or other traumatic life event can be like Dogwood Winter. You may find that you are well on your healing journey and may be filling pretty good about life. Then you experience a temporary setback – finances, ex drags you into court again, etc. Life may be blooming all round you, but in your particular neck of the woods, it seems like winter will not let go. What do you do?

1. Don’t put away your winter clothes: In other words, be ready for anything. You know how when the doctor will say of someone, “They’re not out of the woods yet”? Well, you’re not out of the woods yet. Be prepared for anything.

2. Keep your eyes on the forecast: What’s the long-term outlook? Are you in a place where you need to begin to establish your own credit? Do you have a 401K and how much/how often do you contribute to it? Get help in getting a hold of your finances. The long-term forecast is that you need to be in control of your own finances.

3. Adjust your thermostat accordingly: Even though it may be cold for a few more days or weeks, it will eventually warm up and spring will really, truly be here. You may be going through a rough time at the moment. Don’t be afraid to seek out professional help. More and more companies have EAPs – Employee Assistance Plans. These plans include mental health and financial services. If your employer has an EAP, take advantage of it! Your employer pays into the services so that you can take advantage of them for free.

4. Protect your tender plants: You’ve made a great deal of headway over the past few months and years. Don’t let a temporary setback freeze out those tender advances you’ve made in your healing journey. If you don’t already, journal so that you can see where you’ve been and how far you’ve come. Journal the progress you’ve made in your healing journey. Remind yourself of where you were several weeks ago, several months ago and look where you are now.

Blackberry winter will most likely hit Mytown sometime in mid-May. We’re ready – it happens almost every year. Be prepared for setback in your healing journey. Sometimes, they are the best way to gauge where you are and how strong you’ve become. Stay tuned . . . .

Enough

One of my coworkers shared with me this morning that a family member has cancer and the chemotherapy the doctors are using isn’t working. The doctors want to try another chemotherapy that is three times stronger, but has worse side affects. As my coworker shared this, I thought, “When is it time to say ‘Enough’? We’ve tried everything and it’s okay to let go.”

When my dad was sick with cancer, my mom tried several different things to give him more time. She even traveled halfway across the country to get him into a clinical trial at a famous cancer center. It turns out that my dad didn’t have the genetic markers the doctors were looking for and was ineligible for the clinical trial.

When we go through a rough time in our lives – health issues, a divorce, trauma – when is it time to say, “Enough”? Ex remarried and moved clear across the country – while still owing me over $21K from unpaid alimony. When he was still local, I tried several times to take him back to court in order to collect the money. He ignored my lawyer, his lawyer and the judge. I did not have the money to pursue the matter further, so I had to say, “Enough”.

2 Corinthians 12:9, “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.'” St. Paul is talking about his ‘thorn in the flesh’ (whatever this weakness is) and his unanswered prayer to have this weakness removed. Christ tells him that He is enough to overcome the temporal weakness.

Christ Tomlin, a Christian singer and songwriter, has written a song called, “Enough”.  The first line of the chorus is, “All of you is more than enough for all of me/ For every thirst and every need.” Christ assures us that He is indeed enough for us – His grace, His strength, His provision, His love. When we are in the midst of terminal cancer, He is enough. When a spouse abandons us or thumbs his nose at the courts, He is enough. When we are down to our last dollar, He is enough. When we say, “enough”, He is there – with unconditional love, with everlasting grace, with boundless mercy.

When in our weakness, we say, “enough”, He is our strength. Stay tuned. . . .

Early Spring

It’s been rather warm and rainy here in Mytown. That means that anything that can bloom will bloom. And that means allergies are beginning to act up! This has happened in Mytown before – early spring. We’ll have a warm February, then a cold snap comes along in March (or even a blizzard in 1993) and everything that has bloomed ends up freezing.

I’ve discovered that my post divorce life is sometimes like that. A couple of years ago, ex moved out of Mytown. I was so glad I no longer had to worry about running into him and his girlfriend when Cycle Dude and I went downtown for anything. Ah, spring! But then, I found out he had gotten remarried to a woman with a young son – five years old at the time. Drat – cold snap. I didn’t care so much except that one of my children was upset by the marriage and stepson.

We can often find ourselves in places like this – life seems to be going great and we seem to be doing well on our healing journey, but then something happens that stops us dead in our tracks. How do we react? We can be like the wisteria that freezes and looks like it has died. Or we can fight our way back and bloom again.

One of my favorite photos is of a dandelion pushing up between a crack in the sidewalk. That’s how I often felt in the years following my divorce. Ex would flaunt his girlfriend in my face. I would stand strong and show him that I really didn’t care what he did or who he hung out with.  I am my responsibility and I choose to continue to bloom, no matter what life throws at me. Bloom where you are planted, dear one – in spite of the cold snap! Stay tuned. . .

Learning to Love Yourself Again

Valentine’s Day is approaching, or as some folks refer to it, Singles’ Awareness Day. I am fortunate to have an incredible man in my life and I am keenly aware that not every divorced woman has the same. After a divorce, it is difficult to love and to find someone to love. But that is the perfect time to concentrate on learning to love yourself.

After we’ve been through the shipwreck of divorce, we often feel beat up, unworthy, ashamed, etc. It’s as though we ourselves have been bashed against the rocks and there’s just flotsam and jetsam left. May I suggest the following as you learn to love yourself again:

1. Don’t make any hasty decisions: You’ve made enough life-changing decisions during the divorce proceedings, paperwork, etc. Give yourself a break and don’t make any life-changing decisions, like dating, purchasing a new car or home, moving from on side end of the country to the other, etc. Give yourself a little time to begin to settle into the new normal.

2. Don’t rebound date: Very bad idea. You just got out of one possibly abusive relationship and you want to get into another? But how do you fill that void, that need for human companionship? Volunteer, find a new hobby, foster a cat or a dog, plant a garden – do something that uses your time and talents for good.

3. Get your finances in order: Your bank is more than happy to help you balance your checkbook, work out a budget, etc. If you have a good bank, they value your business and they will assist you in any way they can in order to keep your business. A good business knows that word of mouth speaks far louder than any advertising dollar.

4. Reward yourself: Divorce is a long, hard struggle. You feel battle weary. You probably don’t have a great deal of money. Reward yourself for enduring the storm: Have a movie night with yourself – watching something you have always wanted to watch or want to watch again (the two movies I watch over and over again are Princess Bride and The Muppets Christmas Carol), take a long walk in the park, visit your local arboretum, have a glass of wine on your deck at sunset or a cup of coffee on your deck at sunrise, buy yourself some flowers or a good book (good books can always be found at your second-hand bookstore for cheap!), buy a quarter of a yard of pretty fabric and use it as a table runner. There are all sorts of ways you can reward yourself without having to spend a great deal of money.

5. Live the adventure! Each day is a new day full of new adventures. Thank God when you wake up in the morning and take your first steps out of bed. Praise God for the warm shower. Be thankful for food in your tummy and a roof over your head. Look in the mirror and tell that lovely lady, “You got this, girl!”

Sometimes, it takes a while to learn to love ourselves again, especially if we have been the victim of an abusive or addicted spouse. There will be people in our lives who will feel free to voice their opinions about the divorce. Don’t listen to them. This is a new start, a new normal, a new life that will get better with each passing day. Trust God and trust yourself as you learn to love yourself again. Hugs! Stay tuned. . . .

Things That Matter

Last January, I bought a new car – a Nissan Versa in gun-metal gray that I named Jet. Jet does not have many bells or whistles – he does not have power windows or locks, heated seats or back seats that fold down or  lot of other things. That’s fine with me. He has what matters – the ability to get me dependably from point A to point B. He does that quite well and doesn’t use a whole lot of gas in the process. In fact, I discovered this morning that he also does quite well on snow and ice.

For me, getting divorced took me from a house full of stuff to an apartment full of half that stuff. The longer I lived in the apartment, the more stuff I got rid of. When I moved in with Cycle Dude, I got rid of tons more stuff. Truth be told, I could probably get rid of even more stuff.

Stuff wasn’t the only thing I got rid of. Friends who knew ex and I together seemed to evaporate. I also got rid of a great deal of anxiety, suspicion, and (eventually) anger. I felt like my life was like an onion, peeling away layer after layer. I finally got down to the things that matter.

I don’t have the latest, greatest and most updatest of everything – I don’t need it. Jet doesn’t have tons of bells and whistles – I don’t need it. I don’t have a walk-in closet full of clothes or shoes – I don’t need it. I don’t have a house full of knick-knacks – I don’t need it.

What do I need and what are the things that matter in my life? My faith, my children, my grandbaby, my sweetheart (Cycle Dude), my pups, my family, a roof over my head, food in the fridge and a job that meets my financial needs. My perspective has changed a great deal over the past seven years. My needs are met with simplicity and my wants are few. I find happiness in relationships, not things. I get to come home each day to three of my favorite people – Cycle Dude, Jack and Shirley. And for that, I am grateful! Stay tuned. . . .

 

What is There to Celebrate?

The first holiday season after a loss can be especially difficult – whether it’s the loss of a loved one or the loss of a marriage. I remember the first Thanksgiving after my dad died. My mom and I were celebrating Thanksgiving with my sister in another state. After Thanksgiving Mass, we all three just stood there and cried because we missed my dad so much.

It’s so easy to fall into a funk during the holidays – sadness, anger, depression, and bitterness. Cycle Dude said his deceased wife is the one who made the holidays joyful for him and his children. There just doesn’t seem to be any spark in his holidays. I am determined to change that this year (since I am living in his house, too).

I decorated his house for fall because it’s my favorite time of the year and I always decorated my home for fall. I have tons of Christmas decorations that I will set out as well. I have discovered that there is something to celebrate after my divorce – peace, stability and joy. Those things were dreadfully lacking in my marriage. I celebrate a life of gratitude – for Cycle Dude, my children and soon-to-arrive granddaughter, my pups, my friends, etc.

My life is not perfect – whose is? Yet, there is so much in my life to celebrate. There is so much to be grateful for. If this is your first holiday season after your divorce, it doesn’t have to be depressing. Take time for yourself – what do you like to do? Go out for ice skating and hot chocolate with a friend. Volunteer at your local homeless mission. Bake cookies with your adult children, or for your neighbors or the children at church.

But most of all, have a grateful heart. There is always something to be thankful for. What is there to celebrate? Life! Take the time this holiday season to enjoy life. Stay tuned. . . .