Category Archives: observations

Be Prepared

I walked into work Tuesday morning to find that a survey team from a national  healthcare accrediting organization was on campus. The people at Myjob have been preparing for this organization’s visit for the better part of a year. The organization comes every 2-3 years to inspect the hospital for re-accreditation. Even though we expected the survey team in the fall, my boss said they could come as early as late spring or early summer. My boss has been preparing his team for this visit since October.

I am glad we have been preparing for this event. I have learned a great deal more about healthcare and what it takes to run a hospital. I have learned that it is better to be proactive than not. It is better to anticipate possible scenarios than to sit back and “let it slide”.

One thing I have learned, especially through my divorce, is to be prepared. I can honestly say, I was not prepared to divorce and then to deal with all the emotional, physical and financial flotsam and jetsam that accompanied it. Sure, I knew it was coming – I knew that several years before it actually happened. But I was still not prepared.

I wrote about this subject in a post entitled, “Storm Warnings”. However, I’d like to apply a little of what I have learned in preparation for this healthcare accreditation organization visit.

1.  Categories: Organize your divorce preparations into categories – financial, household, relational, work-related, etc. Sit down and make a list of these categories, then add the following: under financial – income, budget, savings, retirement, emergency fund (even though you may get alimony, don’t count it as income because it’s not going to be around forever and you don’t want to become overly dependent on it); under household – will you sell your home? Move into a new home/apartment? Need to have a yard sale? Need to replace household items? (hint: estate sales are good places to get household items – furniture, dishes, etc. if you need to set up a home.); under relational – How soon will you tell people of your (impending) divorce? Who will you tell? How do you break the news to important people in your life (children, parents, siblings, etc.)?

2. Rank: Once you have your categories and have broken them down into sub categories, give each sub category a ranking from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest) in order of priority. What things will you take care of first? What things can wait? Work on the #5’s first and cross them off your list when done. Number fives should be things like income (how are you going to support yourself?), housing (where are you going to live?), and debt (pay off old debts and don’t create any new ones until your are financially stable).

3. Finish: Once you have finished an item, cross it off your list. If you are really good and make a spreadsheet, hide that column/row when you’ve completed it. Once it’s done, it’s done.

4. Document, document, document: Keep a copy of all your records. Keep a phone log of your conversations with ex or of any electronic communication with ex. You may have to produce this information if it comes down to “he said – she said” in court. Be aware that unless you inform someone you are recording the conversation with them, that communication may be against the law. A good rule of thumb regarding keeping records and documents is 10 years. Instead of tons of boxes full of paper crowding up your spare bedroom, scan documents and store them on a flash drive, backup hard drive or on the ‘cloud’.

Everything we experience in our lives in a learning experience. We can take what we learn in one aspect of our lives (ex. work) and apply it to other aspects of our lives (personal). The thing is we should never stop growing and learning. And, yes, we can even learn from an unpleasant experience like a divorce. 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. . . .

 

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. . . .

 

You Can’t Please Everyone

Years ago, as a young Christian mother and wife, I allowed others to tell me how I should act, parent and be a partner to my (ex) husband. I let others’ interpretation of the Bible, others’ opinion of what it meant to be a “Christian” parent and spouse, and others’ opinion of me guide the decisions I made in my life. Looking back, I can see where that led me to making wrong decisions. I did not trust my own discernment, my “gut” feeling, but I made a decision based on what others told me was best for me.

Tomorrow, I will be moving in with Cycle Dude. That decision has caused quite a ruckus in a certain group of people in my life. I understand why. I also understand that I will never please everyone. I tried that once and it had dire consequences. I am the only one who knows my history – with ex-husband, with “well-meaning” friends and with Cycle Dude. I can honestly say that in the last six years, Cycle Dude has shown me more unconditional love than any community of faith I have been in.

Does that mean I walk away from my faith? No. It means I explore my faith even further. Now, I can hear some say, “You will never find a perfect community of faith”, and “By being part of a community of faith, you subject yourself to their ‘rules’.” I agree.  However, at this point in my life, I feel like I need to make decisions based on what is best for me and Cycle Dude. Not sure what that will look like going forward, but I am looking forward to finding out.

All my life I have made decisions based on the good of others – which is how it should be when one has a family. But now that I am an empty nester, I need to make decisions based on what is good for me. In 1985, Rick Nelson sang a song entitled, “Garden Party”. The chorus is; But it’s alright now, I learned my lesson well. You see, you can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself.

At the end of the day, I have to be able to put my head down on the pillow and know that I did my best, showed God’s love and grace to others, and loved well. Stay tuned. . . .

 

Storm Preparations

I just got an email from the emergency communication system here at Myjob. We are under a severe thunderstorm warning. So far, this storm has left quite a bit of destruction in its wake. A couple of my children live in the middle of the state and have already sent me photos of some of the destruction their areas received just a couple of hours ago. Fortunately, the local weather folks have been forecasting this storm for a couple of days, so we are prepared.

There have been times in my life when I wished I would have had a forecast of the storms to come. I would have been better prepared. I was not prepared for the pain and anger of the divorce. I was not prepared for the destruction it wreaked on my heart and soul. I was not prepared for the emotional, financial and mental destruction the divorce left in its wake. Fortunately, I had several great people in my life who walked through that storm with me.

Weather forecasters always tell you to be prepared when bad weather strikes. they encourage you to make sure you have an emergency kit in case the power goes out or goes out for an extended period of time. The American Red Cross also lets people know how to prepare themselves in bad weather. But how does one weather the severe storms in life?

1. Have a safe place to go: Seek out a good friend, a pastor or priest, a mental health professional, a support group. You will need somewhere safe to go, somewhere that you can open up and express the emotions stirring around inside of you. You will need to go somewhere where the support is strong.

2. Have an emergency plan: Divorce just doesn’t happen overnight – there are signs of the impending doom. If you feel like your marriage is headed south, I would encourage you to do the following: open your own bank account and make sure you have money in it, find legal help and make sure you are covered, obtain a credit card in your name only and resolve to use it only for emergencies, make sure you have a place to go if you have to leave quickly. Take care of yourself.

3. Keep emergency supplies on hand: Friendship is like a flashlight in that it can show you the way in the darkness. Be sure to have a good friend close by, someone who will walk through the storm with you. Keep a journal to document your feelings, thoughts and ideas. Give yourself plenty of grace because you will make mistakes as you weather this storm. Take some time to pray and be quite before the Lord. He will hear your cries and He will heal your heart.

4. Listen to warnings and take appropriate action: Do you dream about revenge? Are you close to cyber stalking your ex? Are you losing sleep or weight from your divorce? Divorce is an incredibly stressful time. It is a major life change. Pay attention to signs of depression, PTSD, anger and other negative emotions. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help.

5. Turn around, don’t drown: Give yourself grace as you weather the storms. You may not feel ready to step back out into all the activities you did prior to being divorced. It’s okay to say, “No” when someone asks you to do something. It’s easy to cover up emotional pain with busyness. Take the time to deal with the pain of the divorce and allow yourself to heal. Don’t drown in overwhelming busyness.

The weather continues to be crazy outside. I will spend this evening bundled up with my dogs – not going anywhere, not risking my safety – but taking some down time as I prepare to move and deal with some major changes in my life.

Dear one, the storms of life are overwhelming, especially when we feel like we are clinging to life as we sit on our rooftops, waiting to be rescued. Cry out to God in the midst of your storm. Give yourself grace and time to heal. There is a rainbow at the end of the storm. Stay tuned . . .

 

Stand and Stretch

Several months ago, I got a standing desk at work. It is desk addition that I put my monitors, keyboard and mouse on. I grasp it by the handles and pull it up when I want to stand and work. To date, I have recommended this desk at least 75 times (I should get a cut of the sales from the company!). The nice thing about the standing desk is that I am able to stand and stretch throughout the day. I recently read that is better for your health to stand and stretch during the day rather than sit in a chair all day. Stretching works your muscles, is good for your circulation and improves your mood.

Fitness enthusiasts also advocate stretching out before a physical activity. It warms up your muscles and prepares them to use. Gently stretching is one way to help prevent injury during physical activity. It is also good to stretch your mental muscles. Healthcare experts have found that keeping your mind engaged in critical thinking activities may stave off the onset of Alzheimer’s.

What about stretching your emotional muscles? As I was going through a divorce, I felt as if my heart and soul were being stretched beyond their capacity to rebound. I thought surely my emotions would look like a rubber band that has been stretched beyond capacity – limp, lifeless and useless. I think for many people, their emotions get stretched beyond capacity. I believe PTSD is a warning sign that you’re getting close to capacity. How do you prevent your emotions from getting stretched beyond their capacity to rebound? What do you do if they are?

1. Talk about it: One of the best ways to prevent your emotions from getting stretched beyond capacity is to talk about what you’re feeling. Find a trusted friend, make an appointment with your clergyman, or seek professional help. Don’t wait until you feel like you want to ‘go postal’. Address your emotions quickly. I have found that giving breath to my thoughts decreases their power over me.

2. Find a support group: If you try one support group and you find it doesn’t suit your needs, find another. I belong to a small group at my church. Twice a month, I have the ladies in my group over to my house for dinner and fellowship. We’ve gotten into conversations about parenting, marriage, momming. It helps to talk about your experiences.

3. Don’t isolate yourself: You may think, “No one knows how I feel. No one cares.” Hogwash! You are more vulnerable when you are alone. My mom always said, “There is safety in numbers”. Find that support group or talk to a friend.

4. Journal: Write about what’s going on in your head, in your life. You can journal as often as you want. You don’t need to be eloquent or be a good speller. This writing is for YOU. Like giving breath to your thoughts, giving words to them also decreases their power. Sometimes, it helps to see what you’re thinking.

5. Take it one step at a time: You didn’t get here overnight, so don’t expect to feel better overnight. This is why it’s so important to get professional help. You need someone who can walk with you through the small steps of healing, especially if your emotions have been stretched beyond capacity. I recommend Beyond Divorce with Jennine Lee (https://www.facebook.com/BeyondDivorce). I have read her book and it helped.

Know that you are not in this alone – whether it’s a divorce, loss of a loved one, eating disorder, etc. Please do not hesitate to reach out to someone who will walk with you through this time in your life. Don’t just sit there, stand and do something! Walk toward healing so your emotions don’t get stretched beyond capacity! Stay tuned . . . .

 

 

Where Do You Find Happiness?

“Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure can buy a lot of other stuff.” I saw this saying on a mug one time. I thought, “Does one really need stuff to be happy or to pretend to be happy?” The vast accumulation of stuff does not guarantee happiness.

Where do you find happiness? I know that happiness is a feeling and it can be fleeting. I also know that my happiness cannot depend on others – that would be co-dependency. I do not tell Cycle Due, “You make me happy” because that’s a great deal of pressure to put on another person. Happiness is a choice. I choose to be happy when I am with Cycle Dude.

Yesterday, I was walking around the hospital after lunch. It was a bit cooler than I thought it was going to be, so I walked a little faster. Along the way, I saw a beautiful red leaf on the ground, the fluffy white clouds in a pristine blue sky, and I heard the mournful whistle of a coal train. Those things make me happy. Using my senses to experience the world makes me happy. The smell of wood burning in a fireplace brings back good memories – it makes me happy. The taste of homemade sugar cookies makes me happy – again, good memories. Snuggling with my dogs makes me happy. Hanging out with Cycle Dude or my children makes me happy.

I understand that there are times in our lives when we can’t seem to find happiness, when we feel so broken, so rejected, and so alone that we think we’ll never find happiness again. If your happiness is dependent on someone else, you will be sorely disappointed. Your happiness must come from within you. Did you wake up today? Do you have a roof over your head? Did you eat breakfast this morning? Did you take a warm shower? These are all things that should soothe your soul. I like taking a warm shower – having the hot water to do so makes me happy!

Finding happiness does not need to be a great, continent-hopping adventure. Finding happiness can be as simple as looking out your bedroom window and seeing a squirrel hiding acorns, or watching a beautiful sunrise, or observing the clouds in the sky. Simplicity fills me with the most happiness.

If happiness seems elusive to you today, I challenge you to walk out your front door, stop and look around you. Chances are, there will be half a dozen things in your sight that will bring you happiness. Do you know what I see when I walk out my front door? I see my car, I see trees in different colors of reds, golds and oranges, I see squirrels dashing around getting ready for winter, I hear the birds singing, I feel the gentle breeze across my face. If you haven’t already guessed, I find happiness in nature, primarily because it reflects the amazing creativity of my Heavenly Father.

Take a few minutes today to find your happiness, even if it is something small. God bless you, dear one! Stay tuned. . . .