Category Archives: moving forward

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. . . .

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 . . . . .

 

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 . . . .

You Are NOT Damaged Goods

My hat is off to those women who have escaped an abusive relationship. Some have walked away (barely) and some have been pushed away. No matter how you left that relationship, you are free. You may not feel the exhilaration that comes with freedom, but in time, you will.

I experienced emotional abuse. It took a while to untangle the tentacles that accompany that type of abuse – co-dependency. But I did find freedom. Please know that in no way do I want to downplay the pain of physical abuse. I know it takes a great deal of courage to walk away from that.

For several months, I felt like I was damaged – could I trust my emotions? Could I trust that I wouldn’t get angry with Cycle Dude? Could I trust that he was where he told me he was? Could I trust that those texts were only from his children and not from another woman? Could I trust that he was not going to bad places on the computer? I had to make a decision – and I had to get help.

I had to make a decision to trust Cycle Dude. I had to make a decision to trust myself with him. I had to talk to someone about my battered emotions. I had to get help for PTSD. I am so glad I had friends to help me along the way. Encouraging Friend prayed with me, she cried with me and she sent me notes of encouragement. Practical Friend dug deep into my wounded soul and spread the balm of authentic friendship and love over the pain she found there. I am forever in these two ladies’ debt – they saved my life.

Dear one, know that you are NOT damaged goods. With time and help, you will be free again, you will be whole again and you will be able to love again. Give yourself the grace and time to heal. Hugs!! Stay tuned. . . .

(The photo at the top of this post is a white trillium – a wildflower common in the mountains of this part of the country. It is beautiful and, to me, it represents the purity of hope.)

Life Will Go On

I normally don’t post twice in one day, but I read a post from another lady who is on the healing journey from her divorce. She posted about celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with her son. He asked if they were going to celebrate even if it was just the two of them.

My children are grown and married and have all moved away. I still put up my Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations and have continued to do so in the years after my divorce. Ex never really enjoyed celebrating the holidays anyway. This year, there was only me and my dogs to enjoy the decorations – and Cycle Dude when he would come over. I love to sit with all the lights off and just have the Christmas tree lights on – I find that very peaceful.

Just because one is divorced doesn’t mean one shouldn’t still live life! Celebrating the holidays, any holiday, after your divorce is a chance to make even better memories and traditions. Cycle Dude and I went down to Florida in 2015 to celebrate Thanksgiving with my sister and brother and their families. It was an enjoyable time. We celebrate the holidays with my grown children as well, though not on the holiday itself because they all have in-laws who want their time, too. The point is that we make the time to celebrate.

Being divorced has given me a blank slate. How do I want to celebrate the holidays and other important days in my life? How do I want to make those days special? This has become a time that I live life the way I want to – not the way some other family’s traditions force me to.

Dear one, part of the healing from your divorce is celebrating – holidays, birthdays, good grades, job promotions, etc. Celebrating is sharing the joy that others bring into your life. Don’t allow ex to ‘win’ in that you live your life is despair. There is joy in each day, each smile of your children, each tail wag from your dog or leg rub from your cat. Celebrate that you are healing and moving forward!

The lady I mentioned at the beginning of this post told her son that yes, they were going to celebrate St Patrick’s Day, even though it was just the two of them, because they are a family and that’s what they do.  Kudos! Life will go on. Stay tuned. . . .

You Are Never Alone

The internet has made it possible to connect to people all over the world. Fifty years ago, the only thing that did that was the telephone and even then, in small rural areas, that was iffy. I am amazed at the growth in technology I have seen in my lifetime. There are young people alive today who don’t know life without Facebook, cell phones, iPads, etc. Today’s two-year-olds are more computer savvy than many people my age!

Like all technology, the internet can be good and it can be evil – it all depends on the user. One thing I found after my divorce is that there is a huge population of divorced women out there. They may be young with no children, single moms, or, like me, empty nesters. There are so many good resources and support groups – one never has to be alone in one’s healing journey.

I would caution a few things, though:

1. Be aware of ex bashing: For me, I had enough problems with my own ex, I don’t need to get pulled into someone else’s problems with their ex. Sure, we can sit around all day and bash ex, but what good does that do? The time and energy spent bashing your ex or helping others bash their ex can be put to better use by researching things like budgeting, finding a support group, or volunteering in your community. Ex bashing serves no purpose other than to bring you and ex down to the same level. Let it go!

2. Do your own research: Divorce laws differ from state to state. Don’t depend on a friend’s experience in another state to determine your course of action in your divorce. Research the divorce laws in your own state. Most lawyers will offer a 30 minute free consultation. Find a good lawyer and use that time to confer with him/her and get answers to your questions.

3. Be careful how much information you share about yourself in an online public forum: Ex’s can be sneaky and pose as another divorced woman in order to obtain information. Anonymity is a good thing. On this blog, I don’t share my name, Cycle Dude’s name, where I work or where I live for a reason. Remember, “TMI” (too much information) or “TMPI” (too much personal information). Be wise. If you don’t think you should share it, don’t, ’cause once it’s out there, it’s out there, knowhatimean?

4. Every experience is different: We both may have gone through a divorce during middle age, but our experiences are different because we are different. Perhaps you would not have made the same decision I did in a certain situation or perhaps you would have acted on the divorce sooner. We can walk with one another through the experience of divorce, but it is the diversity of our experiences that make our commonalities so rich.

We are never alone. If you are a Jesus follower, then you know He is always with you, always walking alongside you in your healing journey. For many, a helping hand and a kindred heart is as close as the internet. God Bless you, dear one, as you continue to walk out your healing journey. Stay tuned . . . .

 

Divorce and Love

(Let me begin this post by saying it’s not about what you think it’s about.)

When I was younger, we often spent time at my Grandmother’s house in Chicago, IL. In fact, when my family returned from three months in Brazil, we lived with my mom’s parents in Chicago for about 6 months. I remember my Grandmother doing her laundry in the basement every Saturday. Even though my uncle had bought her a washer and dryer, she insisted on doing laundry the old-fashioned way – drum washer and wringer, line dry. The basement was always steamy and smelled of bleach. I was fascinated by the wringer and how flat and nearly dry the clothes were when they came out of the wringer. Grandma would then take the clothes and hang them on the line in her backyard. In the winter, she’d hang the clothes on lines stretched across her basement.

Let’s go back to the wringer for a moment. After being beat up in the drum washer, the clothes were put through the wringer. Divorce is like that – you feel as if you’ve been beaten up and put through the wringer. You may even feel as if you’ve been put out to dry on a line in someone’s backyard – exposed and wind-whipped. You committed your life to someone you professed to love and now all that has come crashing down.

We just celebrated Valentine’s Day, or, as many unattached folks refer to it, Singles Awareness Day. The day was all about love, flowers, chocolate, gifts, and love. If you are not in a relationship, did you take the time to love yourself? What??!! Love myself??

After being put through the wringer of a divorce, we need to take the time to love ourselves. Allow yourself to feel the emotions of loss, take time to be silent and reflect on your experience, seek out professional help if you need it, give yourself grace, and be selfish. Yes, be selfish – with your time, money, etc. Give yourself time to heal – don’t jump back into a relationship, say “No” to requested commitments, don’t extend yourself or your money until you are more stable, seek out help to get your financial house in order. Allow yourself time for recovery. You alone know how long it will take you to heal from your divorce. You will know when you’re ready to jump back into life.

As we reflect on the loves in our lives, let us add ourselves to the mix. Learn to love that lady who looks back at you from your mirror. Let her know she is special and powerful. Giver her the grace to move forward. Stay tuned . . .