Category Archives: self love

Fall is Here!

Fall is the prettiest season here in MyState. People come from all over the world to visit the national park and October is one of the most crowded times of the year. The small towns near the national park host Octoberfests, Fall Festivals and go all out in decorating for the season. Once fall is over, the towns decorate for Winterfest, a delightful holiday season complete with lights, decorations and special events.

Fall is my favorite season and October is my favorite month because of where I live. I love the different colors of leaves. I love all things pumpkin. I love fall decorations. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. And my daughter was born in the fall. I’ve written before about how divorce is season in our lives – things are always changing. I’ve also written before about finding the new ‘normal’ in your life after divorce, about finding your happiness and moving forward in joy.

Divorce is a very difficult time in one’s life – especially if your spouse is the one who filed for the divorce. (In my case, I filed.) You can feel rejected, angry, bitter and depressed. It’s okay to feel those emotions. After all, we are emotional beings. It’s part of what makes us uniquely human. But don’t dwell in those dark emotional places. Find the places that make you feel accepted and happy.

If this is your first holiday season after your divorce, I understand what you’re feeling. Give yourself permission make this holiday season different:

1. Feel free to ‘bow out’ of huge family gatherings: You may not feel like doing the huge family holiday, especially if your ex will be present. Carve out a time for you and your children, or for you and a few close friends, to have a smaller holiday gathering. If your family gets offended, don’t worry about it. You are the most important person right now – your healing trumps everything else.

2. Make new holiday traditions: Bring the stress level down several notches. Do simple things like: go out to see holiday light displays, go out for hot chocolate and pumpkin pie, invite a few close friends over to help you decorate for the holiday, have a pizza and movie night with your adult children. Keep it simple. The less stress, the better.

3. Give back to your community: Volunteer at a women’s shelter, collect coats for the homeless, volunteer for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign, collect donations for your local animal shelter. Giving back makes you turn outward instead of turning inward and feeling that destructive self-pity.

4. Be an ‘elf’: When you’re in line at Starbucks, pay for the person’s order behind you. When you’re at the grocery store, find an elderly person in the checkout lane and pay for their groceries. Be generous with your time and money. If you know of a single mom, pay her electric bill so she can give her children Christmas.

5. Put on your favorite holiday music and sing along at the top of your lungs! Who cares who’s listening?! Let yourself go! Be giddy and enjoy the spirit of the season!

Divorce can be dark and depressing. It can make the holiday season dark and depressing, too. Don’t dwell in that place! Even if you sing, dance or decorate just a little, at least you’re grabbing some of the holiday spirit. Start out small. One of my favorite post divorce activities was to turn out all the lights except the lights on my decorations – fall leaf swag, Christmas tree, etc. I would make myself a cup of hot chocolate and just sit in the silence with my dogs. It was so peaceful. Let peace reign in your heart this season. Get out and enjoy the sights and smells of fall. This is yet another season in your life. Breathe a prayer of “Thank you” and enjoy the whipped cream on your hot chocolate! Hugs, dear one! Stay tuned. . . .

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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. . . .

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 . . .

There is Life

Jesus followers around the world will be celebrating His resurrection this Sunday. Even if you are not a Jesus follower, there is still celebration – for spring, for the new life that spring represents and for the time spent with family. Spring is one of my favorite seasons because of the promise of new life. I love to see the flowers bloom, watch the little fledglings make their way out of the nest, and smile as mama animals lead their babies out into the world.

I remember the dark days of my divorce when I thought life would never be again, not just that it would never be the same, but that it would just never be. I was angry, hurt, and depressed. By God’s grace, I had some amazing people in my life to help me walk out of that darkness.

Dear one, if you are facing that darkness during this season of Easter, know that there is LIFE! It may not feel like it, you may be so angry and hurt that you don’t know what to do, but take heart. Sit down, take a deep breath, cry if you must. Know that the God of the universe sees and hears your pain. He knows how to bring you out of this. He is the God of the impossible. The same force that raised Christ from the dead cares about every hair on your head. (Didn’t intentionally rhyme that!) Know that there are also many women who have been where you are, so you are not alone. Look out your window at the flowers, the birds, the bees buzzing around. Notice how blue the sky is and how warm the sun is. All around you, there is life. Breathe a prayer of thanksgiving for the life you have been given. 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. . . .

 

Divorce and the ‘M’ Word

Divorce is difficult enough to go through without throwing something else in the mix over which you have no control – namely, menopause. Menopause is nothing to be ashamed of – countless women have gone through it for centuries. It’s just something that is part of being a woman. But it doesn’t make things any easier when you’re already facing a difficult time.

What can you do to make this time in your life a little easier while you are also going through a divorce? Much of what I’ve learned is in hindsight.

1.  Visit your healthcare provider: Talk to your doctor about hormone replacement therapy. For many women, HRT is not an option. This is something I stayed away from because of the high incidence of cancer in my family. If you are concerned about a link between HRT and the occurrence of cancer, talk to your doctor. Your doctor can also provide antidepressants to deal with the mood swings.

2. Explore different options to deal with mood swings and stress: Physical exercise has been shown to release endorphins, those ‘feel good’ hormones. WebMD states, “When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine.” Walking is the cheapest form of exercise and can be done just about anywhere. Yoga is also an exercise that relieves stress and provides a feeling of peace. There are many different herbal supplements to try as well. This website is a good resource:  https://www.womentowomen.com/menopause-perimenopause/five-steps-for-natural-menopause-relief-2/

3. Talk to someone: Many employers have EAP benefits (employee assistance programs) that provide a predetermined number of free visits to a mental health professional. If your employer does not provide that, seek out a trusted friend or speak to your pastor or clergy member. It seems to me that our thoughts lose their negative effect once we voice them. When left alone, our negative thoughts can rattle around in our heads and grow bigger and bigger and do more harm. For me, it helps to journal.

4. Be accountable to someone: Whether it’s a friend, therapist or clergy member, someone needs to walk with you through this time. There needs to be another person who will help you put things into perspective. You will need someone to help you work through some big decisions. You can’t and shouldn’t do this alone. Find a support group to help you through this time.

5. Realize that there are many changes occurring all at the same time and be gentle to yourself: You will be dealing with lawyers (both his and yours), court dates, discovery, time off of work, property division, etc. There is a great deal of stress involved in a divorce. It’s easy to let things go – eating properly, sleeping, etc. Take time to be gentle to yourself. Take a walk in the park, bake a batch of cookies, read a good book, take a nap. You are not expected to be Superwoman when you are going through two major life changes at the same time! Allow yourself to have a day of doing absolutely nothing. Need to stay in bed and cry? Do it. Need a day of purging your home of all ex’s stuff? Do it.

6. Lower your expectations: Don’t expect ex or his lawyer to be kind to you. Don’t expect yourself to have all the answers. Don’t expect the judge to understand your emotions. There will be many rotten days as you walk through the divorce. Don’t expect every day to be sunshine and puppies. Your body is changing and your life is changing. Give yourself grace.

7. Do Your Homework: You know that your body is changing. Do your homework – talk to your doctor, research on the internet, talk to friends who have experienced menopause. I just signed up for a series of lectures through Myjob presented by Red Hot Mamas (http://redhotmamas.org/).  Find out as much as you can about menopause, its symptoms and how to deal with these changes (http://redhotmamas.org/menopause-a-z/survival-tips/). The more you know about how menopause affects you, the more you can control how you are feeling.

You cannot control your ex, his lawyer, the justice system, etc. Pay attention to what you can control and let those things be one less distraction as you walk through the divorce. Stay tuned . . . .