Tag Archives: lessons learned

Get Rid of It!

The only reason I would post twice in one day is because I read something that I MUST share! During lunch today, I tapped into the internet to get an update from my favorite news station. The screen that appears before I access my ‘favorites’ is the ISP’s news page. I followed a headline entitled, “Removing These 31 Things From Your Life Will Make You Happier and More Successful” (Credit: Mary Cate Williams).

My top 10 from this piece (in no particular order) are: comparing yourself to others, creating unrealistic expectations for yourself, bad spending habits, fear of the unknown, living in the past, unhealthy relationships, the need to be in control of everything, your need to have the best things, feeling sorry for yourself, and grudges. Five bonus things to get rid of: jealousy, blaming others for your mistakes, resisting change, holding on to stuff you don’t need and your social media obsession.

I see a couple of themes here: be responsible for yourself, be yourself, forgive others, stick to a budget, and it’s okay to let life happen. Your only responsibility is to and for yourself – that includes your time, your money, your resources. Forgive others – your grudges only hurt you. Unforgiveness is like drinking poison, hoping the other person will die. Forgive and move on! And for goodness sake, ditch the social media! Is anyone ever who they really are on social media? Do you really need someone else’s life issues to brood over when you have your own?

Don’t spend beyond your means – you really don’t need the latest and greatest of everything. Like the saying goes, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”. Stuff begets stuff and you can’t take it with you. Cycle Dude and I have been on a minimalist kick for a few months. Nothing is as liberating as taking a car full of your old stuff to Goodwill. A constant theme I see at estate sales is the amount of stuff people collected and thought they needed to live a good life.

It’s okay to let life happen. Life is an adventure- live it! If you live the rest of your life cooped up in yourself without ever venturing out to learn something new, go somewhere you’ve been dreaming of or are afraid to love again, you will die a sad, angry person. Live the adventure called ‘life’. If you happen to find someone along the way to live it with, that’s a bonus. Get rid of the negativity, anger and bitterness. Look at the good things in life – nature, friends, grandchildren – and resolve to live a good life. Don’t be the old Ebenezer Scrooge. Be the Ebenezer Scrooge who found a wonderful new life, resolving to keep Christmas in his heart each day of the year. Stay tuned!. . .

 

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What is There to Celebrate?

The first holiday season after a loss can be especially difficult – whether it’s the loss of a loved one or the loss of a marriage. I remember the first Thanksgiving after my dad died. My mom and I were celebrating Thanksgiving with my sister in another state. After Thanksgiving Mass, we all three just stood there and cried because we missed my dad so much.

It’s so easy to fall into a funk during the holidays – sadness, anger, depression, and bitterness. Cycle Dude said his deceased wife is the one who made the holidays joyful for him and his children. There just doesn’t seem to be any spark in his holidays. I am determined to change that this year (since I am living in his house, too).

I decorated his house for fall because it’s my favorite time of the year and I always decorated my home for fall. I have tons of Christmas decorations that I will set out as well. I have discovered that there is something to celebrate after my divorce – peace, stability and joy. Those things were dreadfully lacking in my marriage. I celebrate a life of gratitude – for Cycle Dude, my children and soon-to-arrive granddaughter, my pups, my friends, etc.

My life is not perfect – whose is? Yet, there is so much in my life to celebrate. There is so much to be grateful for. If this is your first holiday season after your divorce, it doesn’t have to be depressing. Take time for yourself – what do you like to do? Go out for ice skating and hot chocolate with a friend. Volunteer at your local homeless mission. Bake cookies with your adult children, or for your neighbors or the children at church.

But most of all, have a grateful heart. There is always something to be thankful for. What is there to celebrate? Life! Take the time this holiday season to enjoy life. Stay tuned. . . .

When the Dust Settles

The days leading up to a divorce and the days and months after a divorce can feel like a bomb has gone off in your life. There is dust and debris everywhere. You feel anxious, hurt, confused and unsettled. You’re not sure what your next steps are. You feel as if you’re the only one who has ever gone through this.

It wasn’t until I moved into an apartment with my dogs that I finally felt settled after my divorce – and that was four years later! I eventually got rid of a great deal of stuff that was mine and his together. I remember getting rid of the gargantuan sofa bed that we had gotten together. I swore I was not going to move with that two-ton thing again! Cycle Dude came over with his reciprocating saw and cut the thing apart. Tossing the last piece of that sofa bed into the dumpster was so freeing! I finally got household furnishings that I liked and that I picked out. My home was now my own.

I realized the dust had finally settled when I could sit alone in the quite of my own home, enjoy the peace, and not feel anxious. I enjoyed sitting in my napping chair with my dogs and not making a sound. Sometimes the quiet wraps around you like a warm blanket. I would talk quietly to my dogs as we snuggled in the napping chair.

My life is so much different now. I have been living with Cycle Dude since March. I enjoy spending each day with him, walking my dogs, and being at peace. Healing from a divorce, or other traumatic time in your life, is a process. I didn’t get here overnight, but steadily moved forward.

I have a wonderful friend whom I met through this blog. We spoke recently and I was excited that she is moving forward and beginning to see healing in her life. No matter what, we must move forward. The dust will settle, dear one, and then you will be able to clearly see the way ahead. Keep moving! Stay tuned. . . .

 

Being Resourceful

Eighteen months after I got divorced, ex stopped paying court-ordered spousal support. He felt he was above the law and able to make that decision. I tried legal means to get him to pay the remainder of the money, but he just ignored my attorney and his attorney when they tried to contact him. I didn’t have the money to pursue him any further. He said it was his job to “make (me) stand on (my) own two feet”. We weren’t even married anymore! How could he think he still had power over my life?!

I guess I could be grateful for that time in my life because it taught me how to be resourceful. I had a lot of debt and not a lot of money. I had to get creative with meals, bill paying, Christmas and birthday gifts, etc.

1. Keep a change jar: My change jar was often my lifesaver, even it was just $5 in my gas tank. Change adds up quickly.

2. Grocery shop for items that will last a while: Frozen fruits and veggies instead of fresh, rice and pasta, tea bags to make your own iced tea, etc. I remember making a rice dish with whatever was in my refrigerator. I had that for lunch and dinner for one week. Yes, it got boring, but it filled my tummy. Eat oatmeal and eggs – not just for breakfast but for other meals as well. Both will fill you up.

3. Make gifts with what you have on hand: My siblings and I exchange Christmas ornaments every year. One year, My Christmas ornament was a laminated maple leaf from the tree beside my house. The leaves were a deep shade of crimson.

4. Be creative – use your talents: Another year for a Christmas ornament, I knitted Christmas trees and attached small buttons as ornaments. If you sew, use your material scraps to make “hodge-podge” ornaments. If you like to take pictures, frame your favorites and give them as gifts.

5. Turn down the heat, turn up the air conditioning: Turn the heat down a few degrees in winter (68) and turn the air up a few degrees in the summer (75). Invest in a fan and open your windows. Conserve water by running your dishwasher only when it’s full. Shower and do laundry at night when the energy demand is less.

6. Use public transportation (if possible): I would often park my car and take the bus from my apartment to work. Granted, I had to walk a mile and a half, but I didn’t have to worry about gas or wear and tear on my car.

7. Exercise self-control: There were so many times I had to tell myself ‘no’ – and I hated it! No to ice cream bars, no to new clothes and shoes, no to eating out. Once you learn how to have self-control, saying ‘no’ to yourself is not so bad.

I learned a great deal during those lean years – about me, about my ability to be resourceful and about others who love me. I knew I’d never go homeless or without food, but it was up to me to do whatever I could to take care of myself and be responsible for my financial obligations. I know now that I am a better person for enduring those lean years, even though they were so hard at the time.

If you are in the midst of some lean years, be encouraged, dear one. You will make it through this. Keep your chin up! Stay tuned. . . .

 

Organizing My Thoughts

It’s usually around this time of the year that I start to write my annual Christmas letter. I keep it to one page. I remember getting Christmas letters from distant cousins that were pages long of bragging. Ick! I dedicate a paragraph to each of my children, one to me and Cycle Dude and one to my dogs. Five paragraphs are plenty long enough for a Christmas letter! I stopped writing the paragraphs a couple of years ago about my children and let them write their own to include in my Christmas letter. Not only does that make their news more personal, but it helps me to organize my thoughts.

I remember the days immediately before, during and after my divorce. I was so scatter-brained, I was surprised I could think at all! I was still in school at the time, and was preparing to graduate five months later. I couldn’t afford to be scatter-brained! By the grace of God, I was able to hold it all together enough to graduate with a 3.3 GPA.

I employed several different tools during that time that helped me a great deal!

1. I used a paper calendar: I kept the calendar with me so I remember appointments, when papers were due, when I had exams, etc. I filled the calendar in every two weeks and let it do my thinking for me!

2. I made dozens of lists: From what I had to accomplish that day, to my grocery list, and my housecleaning list, etc. Even if the task was trivial, I put it on the list. I didn’t want to forget anything, especially since I was in school.

3. I’d prepare for tomorrow the night before: I’d make sure I had all the schoolbooks I needed, the papers that were due, my lunch, and anything else I needed for the day. I would also lay out my clothes the night before. If I took time the night before to prepare for the next day, then the next day wasn’t as crazy!

4. I’d take some time to seriously veg: Sometimes, you just need to have an afternoon of not doing much of anything. Those were the days I’d clear the cobwebs from my brain and just enjoy the peace and quiet.

5. I’d map out my route: The year I was divorced was my daughter’s first year of college – four hours away I another state. I attended all of her volleyball tournaments. I always made sure I knew in advance how to get to where her game was. Of course, my laptop and schoolbooks came along as well.

It’s easy to become scatter-brained when you’re going through a hard time. Take the time to make sure you have the tools to help you not be so scatter-brained. And above all, give yourself grace. Stay tuned. . . .

Going Through Hell? Keep Moving!

I just read about a gentleman who received the Medal of Honor today from President Trump. Army Captain (Ret.), Gary “Mike” Rose was a medic on a covert operation during the Vietnam War. Even though he himself was injured, he kept tending to his wounded comrades. Reporter Lucia I. Suarez Sang, Fox News, writes: “In spite of his own injuries, he didn’t sleep for days to make sure all 16 American soldiers deployed with him made it home. They did.” Captain Rose was going through hell, pinned down by enemy gunfire, but he kept on going.

When I was in the midst of the divorce, my sister reminded me of what Winston Churchill once said: “If you’re going through hell, keep on going.” When you go through a rough time in your life, keep moving forward, because eventually, there is a way out. Don’t turn around and go back, even though what’s behind you may be familiar. Don’t dwell in or on your past. Move forward – put your head down, grit your teeth and move!

I know it’s hard to move forward. At times, you may feel paralyzed, abandoned, unable to think through the ‘brain fog’ or numbness that has set in. Just put one foot in front of the other, even if all you can manage today is one step forward. Did you get out of bed today? Good! Did you have breakfast or fix breakfast for your children? Even better! Did you change out of your pajamas (don’t worry about taking a shower!)? Many kudos! Life will get better.

Things will never be ‘normal’ again and you will have to find your ‘new normal’. Sometimes, that takes a while. It’s okay. And it’s okay to move at your own pace while you move forward. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. We all heal at different times and in different ways. Word of warning: Don’t be destructive. If you think you are facing depression, go get help. It’s okay to be on medication until you get back on your feet.

Find a support group – one that encourages its members to move forward at their own pace. Ask a good friend or two to walk with you while you go through this time. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself abundant grace. Look at that lady in the mirror and smile at her because, even though she is going through hell, she is moving forward. Hugs! Stay tuned. . . .

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. . . .