Tag Archives: happiness

What is My Purpose?

My mom had such high hopes for my five siblings and I when we were younger – she thought at least one of us would be rich, or perhaps another would be famous. None of us are neither rich nor famous. But we have touched others’ lives for the better. Both of my sisters are educators – one teaches English for the military and another teaches fifth graders. One of my brothers has been a leader in his church and another brother owned his own coffee shop. My mom is currently pursuing her two passions – writing and educating. She has her own website and writes an education column for several local newspapers. Perhaps she is the one who will be rich and famous!

Often, when we come out the other side of a rough time in our lives, we begin to question our existence. If you are a mom, you may feel your children are your identity – until they grow up and begin families of their own. They are no longer your responsibility. Or you may feel your identity was in your marriage. Your purpose as a mom and a wife are gone. So what do you do now?

A sweet friend called me this past weekend. She had been reading my blog. I remember when she first contacted me to comment on something I had written. She was very wounded and didn’t think she could endure the hard time she was going through. I encouraged her and stayed in contact with her. Now, a year or so later, she is, in turn, encouraging other women. I told her she has come so far! She has a purpose – to walk beside other women as they go through a divorce or other hard times in their lives. I am humbled by her strength.

I have found that part of my purpose in life is to write this blog, to encourage other women. I have also found that part of my purpose is to love my adult children through the different phases of their lives. My purpose is also to love my mom and encourage her as she pursues her passion this late in her life. My purpose is to love and encourage those people God has put in my life. In doing so, I will make a difference in my small corner of the world. It has taken me a while to realize my purpose.

For some, their purpose is larger than life. For others, their purpose is small and quiet – making a difference and blooming where they are planted. Do not feel insignificant if your face is not splashed across the latest cover of Vanity Fair. Know that God sees you, hears you and loves you. You are right where He wants you to me. Hugs! Stay tuned. . . .

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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. . . .

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. . . .

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 . . .

Lessons from a Coyote

I once heard it said that the two most adaptable creatures on earth are coyotes and cockroaches because a) they can both be found in nearly every corner of the world and b) they have been around for such a long time. That may be all well and good, but, like I a told a PhD Etymologist candidate one time, the only good cockroach is the on the bottom of my shoe. He was appalled and held his Madagascar Hissing Roach a little closer. But, I digress.

Back to the coyote. These wolf-like mammals are everywhere. They’ve become highly adaptable in a world that is rapidly encroaching on their habitats. Coyotes have the remarkable ability to adapt their entire lives in order to survive in different habitats.

I believe God uses His creation to teach us valuable lessons. There are many scriptures that refer to an animal as an example of a spiritual characteristic. When we are going through a hard time in our lives, we may need to stop and look around us at the beautiful creation set before us. What kind of lessons can we learn from a coyote that will help us on our healing journey?

1. Be adaptable: Going through a divorce is just plain nasty. You can either dig your heels in and become angry and bitter or you can shake off that nasty man and continue on with your life. One of the most adaptable animals in the world, the coyote can change its breeding habits, diet and social dynamics to survive in a wide variety of habitats. Urban
coyotes take advantage of swimming pools, dog water dishes, ponds and water hazards at golf courses and other water-bearing human artifacts as a source of moisture. However, the majority of coyotes never see people.

(Read more: http://www.desertusa.com/animals/coyote.html#ixzz4dadmEud9)

What changes does your divorce bring – living on your own again? Moving to a new home, city or state? Getting a job? Instead of fighting the change that is happening as a result of your divorce, embrace it. Learn to adapt to a new ‘normal’.

2. Be resourceful: Urbanization has encroached on the coyotes’ territory, and they have learned to look in other places for food. Unfortunately, that food may be in the form of a domesticated animal, though coyotes don’t usually subsist on domesticated animals. Depending on how wide their range is, the coyote can be singular as a carnivore or more of an omnivore (eating both meat and plants).

As a mid-life divorcee, you may be facing a job change. Start out as a temporary employee or a part-time employee in order to get your foot in the door. Do you have a lot of stuff left from your marriage? Sell it! Use the money for your needs. Take stock of your assets and liquidate what you can in order to take care of yourself.

3. Be patient: The coyote has a great deal of stamina and will stalk its prey for 20-30 minutes in order to wear that prey down. When the prey is at its weakest, then the coyote will strike.

You did not get into the situation overnight (that precipitated the divorce), you will not get out of it overnight. Divorces can be like a festering wound – mean and ugly. Be patient and give yourself grace as you heal. Have stamina and do not allow yourself to get worn down.

4. Ask for help: Coyotes live and hunt in groups. They know there is safety in numbers and more hunters can be more efficient at times than a lone hunter. Coyotes have different vocalizations that communicate their needs. They know one another’s ‘voices’.

My mother always used to say, ‘There is safety in numbers’. As you walk this healing journey, make sure to get connected to a support group or a couple of friends who will ‘have your back’. Voice your needs. No one can read your mind.

5. Be strong: Coyotes are feared hunters because they hunt in packs, like many of their wild cousins (the wild dogs of Africa, wolves, jackals). Coyote pups learn to hunt from their mother. By the time they are a year old, they are strong enough to hunt on their own and begin their own families.

Pray for God to put a ‘coyote mom’ in your life, someone who will walk with you through the divorce and teach you to be strong. Someday, when you are strong enough and healed enough, you may be called upon to be that ‘coyote mom’ for someone else.

Thank God for His awesome creation and the lessons He teaches us through it. Take heart, dear one. You are not in this alone. Not only does God walk along beside you, but so do many other women who have found themselves in this same situation. Stay tuned. . . .

 

 

All Dogs Go To Heaven

I have written before about my two canine children. The three of us recently moved in with Cycle Dude. Shirley, my Dalmatian/hound mix, adores Cycle Dude. He can get her to do things I can’t by just looking at her (like go upstairs to take a bath). If Shirley had her druthers, she’d sleep in Cycle Dude’s bed every night. Shirley acts like a starry-eyed schoolgirl around Cycle Dude (ok, I do, too!!). He just smiles and pats her head. That’s all she needs.

We should all be so fortunate as to have the unconditional love of someone like Shirley. Granted, she’s a dog, but where else will you find such pure, unconditional love? You find that with the God of the universe! I am convinced that in so many parts of our daily lives, our Heavenly Father shows us His incredible love for us. Did you wake up this morning? Did you see the sun rise? Are flowers blooming in your yard? Do you hear the birds singing? Do you have the gracious friendship of a good person?

I see the amazing love of God in the crazy full-body wag of my dog, Jack. I see His boundless love in the beauty of each sunrise. I see His unconditional acceptance in the way Cycle Dude loves me. Take the time today to stop and listen to voice of God. I am reminded of His voice whenever I hear thunder because the Bible says the voice of God sounds like thunder.

I am grateful for the sweet love of my pups – the way Jack looks at me and the way Shirley loves to give me kisses. I am thankful that God gave me such wonderful animals to take care of. They remind me all the time of what unconditional love truly is – accepting and gracious. Thank you, Father, for such a sweet reminder of who You are! Stay tuned . . .