Tag Archives: healing

Lessons from a Dog

I have written before on this blog about my two canine children – Jack and Shirley. Jack is my 10-year old boxer/terrier mix. He is highly intelligent and very vocal – both traits from his boxer parent. Shirley is my 9-year old Dalmatian/hound mix. She is very energetic and a tad ditzy – both traits from her Dalmatian parent. However, her sense of smell is through the roof. She gets that from her hound parent.

Shirley loves to lay by the back door and watch things – she’s my watchdog. Jack is very protective and barks when the ice maker in the fridge makes noise because he thinks it’s someone at the front door – he’s my guard dog.

I’ve had both dogs since they were puppies, so we’re a pack now. When they sleep in the bed with me, we all have to snuggle up close and be touching. They know where I am 100% of the time I am home. They love to do things together – go on walks, chill on the couch, go ‘bye-bye’ in the car. I am a dog person and have had dogs most of my adult life. I’ve learned some valuable lessons from my canine children:

1. Love with all you have: My pups let me know I am their ‘hooman’. They wag their tails and bark with joy when they see me. They hold nothing back in showing me they love me. They bark with delight, make happy noises when I pet them, and freely snore when we hunker down for the night. We are delighted with one another’s company.

2. Don’t be afraid to show compassion and sympathy: Whenever I cry, Jack is right there to comfort me. He looks at me with a furrowed brow as if to say, “Are you okay? What can I do to make you feel better?” When I am sick, my pups snuggle up to me, keeping me warm and making me feel better.

3. Be boundless in your happiness: Jack does the full body wag and Shirley barks and wags her tail when they are happy. A head tilt and an excited, “Woof!” often accompany unbridled happiness. When my pups are happy, they show it to the extreme – from running like a crazy dog around the backyard to 100 mph tail wags!

4. Take pleasure in the small things: A warm blanket, a good snuggle, a tasty treat – all are small things that bring my pups great pleasure. One does not need a great deal of money to experience small pleasures. Some simple pleasures for me – beautiful clouds, a young buck in Cycle Dude’s yard, and Dove chocolate.

5. Forgive others and experience the joy of the moment: Sometimes my pups do things that are naughty. I tell them, “I am not happy with you!” They will still follow me around, not at all concerned that I am angry with them at that moment. One of them ends up doing something funny and I laugh, my anger melting away. I cannot be angry with my pups for long. Life is too short and they are too funny.

I know that divorce is painful. I would not have made it through that time if I did not have good friends and wonderful pups. In the middle of a bad night, when sleep would not come, I’d roll over to a cold nose and a warm pup. They helped to keep me on an even keel. God has blessed us with His creation – both for pleasure and for learning. I am grateful for my pups. Stay tuned . . .

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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. . . .

My Responsibility

As a parent, I wanted to make sure I taught my children to be responsible for themselves. Blaming others for your poor decisions, avoiding the consequences for your actions, and lying about it all was something I would not tolerate. Personal irresponsibility was something I was exposed to for years.

Personal irresponsibility is a direct effect from enabling, rescuing and helicopter parenting. It does little Johnnie or Suzie no good if Mommy and Daddy are always there to pick up every mess they make. I remember when I was in kindergarten and one day I fell over a burm on the sidewalk. I hit the concrete hard and scratched both of my knees. That experience reminds me of what it means to allow our children to stumble and fall and face the consequences.

I am not saying we should deliberately create opportunities for our children’s demise. Heaven’s no! But as parents, we need to let our children experience the consequences of their decisions. We need to let them understand what it means to work hard. We need to be an example of personal responsibility. I must confess that I wasn’t always like that to my children. It wasn’t until I began to see the disintegration of my marriage that I realized I had to be responsible for me.

I’m sure my children got mad at me when I made them stand on their own two feet. I’m sure they resented me when they didn’t get the latest and greatest of everything. I’m sure they hated working those long hours in the summer just to have money for school. My parents made me do the same thing. My responsibility as a parent was to make sure my children were ready to take care of themselves when they left my home. It was hard on all of us, that’s for sure.

But I couldn’t be more proud of my children – all six of them (3 of my own and 3 in-laws). My first grand baby is due next month. I have no doubt my son and daughter-in-law will be amazing parents. My other two children don’t have children of their own yet, but I can see by how they treat their spouses’ nieces and nephews, that they, too, will be amazing parents. Will I take the credit for that? Perhaps some, but I prayed for my children ever since they were in-utero. I prayed for guidance, for other adults who would pour themselves into my children’s lives, and for spouses and in-laws who would also love them beyond measure.

My mom says that you never stop being a mom (parent). My responsibility now is to encourage my children in their parenting, to continue to pray for them and their families and to pass along some small nugget of wisdom that I have learned from raising them. I love my children. And I am going to love my grandchildren, too! Stay tuned . . . .

 

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. . . .

May My Words Be Sweet

My son and his wife had a virtual baby shower this past weekend. It was basically a video conference call with folks able to join in from all over the country. Cycle Dude and I went to my daughter’s house where we were joined by my second son and his wife. It was a bit different attending a baby shower like that. We had all mailed our gifts ahead of time so we could watch my daughter-in-law open them.

A couple of days prior to the shower, my son texted me and reminded me to “be civil” since his father would also be tuning in. Even though ex ended up not being there or tuning in, I made sure to abide by my son’s request. I would not be ugly. I wanted to honor my son, his wife and my grand baby, Sweet Pea (my nickname for her). As I read my son’s text, I was reminded me of a poster I saw once. The poster was a picture of two little prairie dogs eating dandelions with the caption, “May my words be sweet, for tomorrow I may have to eat them.”

It is so easy for me to say mean things about ex. I have to remember that he is my children’s father and my history with him is not theirs. They don’t see him as I do. And they all have a relationship with him. I have been reminded several times over the years since the divorce that I need to keep my opinions about ex to myself. Sometimes, it is really difficult for me to keep that boundary with my children – that I will not say mean things about their dad in their presence. My journal is one thing – being in public with them is another thing entirely. It takes a great deal of self-control, but I want to honor my children.

I want to be above reproach with my children regarding what I say about their dad. I want them to know that I strive to keep my words sweet or to say nothing at all. It is difficult to have sweet words about someone you do not like. Better to say nothing than to have to eat sour words. When I was young, my mom always reminded me of what Thumper’s dad (from Bambi) said; “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Proverbs 17:28 states, “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.” If my words can’t be sweet, then may I be thought of as wise. Stay tuned. . .

The Tempest

In Shakespeare’s play, “The Tempest” caused a shipwreck that killed the main character’s enemies. One may feel that a divorce is like the tempest. Divorce is painful because it is the rending of two souls intimately joined by promise or covenant – that’s what the rings represent. Divorce can feel like a shipwreck, and all you are left with are splintered boards, broken glass and an oil slick on the water.

I have never endured a hurricane or a storm on the open sea. However, I have endured frightening thunderstorms in the Midwest and dust storms in Arizona. The tempest can take many forms – from thunderstorms whipping the atmosphere into a circular frenzy to mighty winds carrying dust into every nook and cranny and powerful storms over the ocean pushing the sea several miles inland. The tempest can also be the emotional storm that accompanies the ripping apart of a divorce.

I thought about this post this morning. I try to encourage others to walk through their divorce with courage, knowing there is light when you come out of the darkness. I know going through a divorce is not all butterflies and unicorns. I know it can be one of the darkest, ugliest and most frightening places you can be. I think only abuse and death are worse than divorce – at least for me.

Shakespeare’s character conjured up the storm for nefarious purposes. I know of One who calms the storm – for His glory. I can honestly say that if it had not been for my faith and the faith of two close friends, I would not have made it through the tempest. I also humbly admit that I did not ride out the storm as a saint. I rode out the storm screaming and shouting all the way – not out of fear, but out of anger and vengeance. I am not the ideal person to emulate during a divorce. However, I can proudly say that I am still standing, I have withstood the tempest because of the love of Christ.

The storm may be buffeting you all around. You may feel as if you do not have the strength to stand. Pray the prayer, “Help!” You will feel the hand of God calm the tempest and steady you. Have faith. Stay tuned. . . .

Family Reunion

Next weekend, various family members will be heading to MyState for a family reunion. The last time my siblings and I got together was for my mom’s 75th birthday. She will be 80 this year. Some family members are coming that I have not seen in years! I am excited! The only bad thing is that it is supposed to rain the whole time my extended family members are here. Oh, well.

I would not be as excited about this family reunion if I hadn’t taken a bold step last October. My middle son and I were talking one evening about the family reunion and he said something that made me think about my familial relationships. There was one family member that I had not gotten along with for years. I knew she would be at the family reunion. I did not want to make everyone uncomfortable by continuing this feud with her. I prayed and I asked for prayer because making peace with this family member was not real high on my “To Do” list.  Yet, I felt that it was something I needed to do.

I flew to the state this family member lived in. I stayed at another family member’s home and made arrangements to get together with the feuding family member. I knew I needed to approach her as honestly and sincerely as I could. Long story short, we resolved our differences. I was so relieved! Now, this family member and I are going to be first time Grandmas together – her first grandbaby is due two months before my first grandbaby. Now we will be able to share in one another’s joy.

Making peace with that family member was difficult. It is not something I would have done five or even two years ago! Yet, I knew this family reunion was coming up and I wanted to honor my mom’s 80th birthday by having the focus be on her and not on my feud with the other family member. It took courage and it took the willingness to do what I knew to be right even if the family member did not reciprocate.

So what does this have to do with being divorced? Do you have family members with whom you have not talked for a while – perhaps due to your divorce? Perhaps you and another family member said angry words to each other at one time? Perhaps you had a misunderstanding? I would urge you to resolve your differences as soon as possible. Pray about it, think about it, give it some time, but resolve to move forward to make peace.

Why? A couple of reasons: we are not promised tomorrow – make your peace today; you may see your family member at a family gathering – it’s much easier to be at peace with one another than to spoil the gathering for everyone else because you are feuding; and because the Bible commands it – Romans 12:18 states, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Be willing to live at peace with others. Stay tuned. . . .