Tag Archives: lessons learned

To Be a Friend

I have a friend who works for the same hospital in Mytown that I used to work for. We didn’t start out as friends. In fact, about two months after I started working there, she called me and laid into me: “I have NEVER had as many problems with your office as I now have with you! I have been here for over 13 years and you have only been here for two months!”

I must admit that I was taken aback by her biting words. Even though I felt like crying, I didn’t. I was determined to be nice to this lady. Over the next three years, whenever I would email her or call her, I would be as nice as possible to her. When I told her I was leaving for another job, she panicked. “I will miss you! You have inspired me to be a better person!” I must admit that I was taken aback by her complimentary words.

She and I got together for dinner about a month ago. When I emailed her to invite her to dinner, she was very grateful. At dinner, she told me, “I am not a very nice person. I was surprised when you emailed me.” I almost cried. I told her, “I can be a pain in the patooty sometimes, too – just ask my children!” I invited her to go to dinner next week with my best buddy whom I have known for over 15 years.

It takes a great deal of effort to be a good friend. When we commit to being someone’s friend, we commit to the seen and the unseen. We commit to them – past, present and future. That’s a very difficult thing to do. What if they have a bad, dangerous past? What if they are extremely needy right now? What if they do something really stupid in the future?

We all have something in our past that makes us vulnerable and maybe a bit dangerous. Your friend could be needy right now because of her past. All she may need is someone to talk to who will show some compassion. I can guarantee you that I will do something stupid in the future – never fails. So will you.

To be a friend we need to step outside of ourselves, to b-e willing to give our best when our friend is at their worse, and to be willing to give abundant grace to others (and ourselves!). My best buddy has done all of that for me. She knows my past, has seen me at my worst, has given me abundant grace and compassion and still wants to hang out with me.

To be a friend is to take a huge risk. I am so glad my best buddy risked it with me. She has been a wonderful friend. Who will you take a risk with? Stay tuned. . . .

 

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Making Memories

One of my coworkers was raised in an orphanage. I have been getting bits and pieces of her story over the past few weeks. When I talk about how excited I am for my mom to come for Christmas, my coworker relates a story from her past. She never really knew her mom and knew very little about her dad. Her stories don’t bother me or make me sad, but they make me grateful for the family I have and the memories we made through the years.

I am looking forward to making memories with my mom. As one of six children, I didn’t always have one on one time with my mom. A couple of years ago at a family reunion here in Mytown for my mom’s 80th birthday, she and I shared a cabin. I was so thrilled to finally have her all to myself. We laughed and cried together. I will have those memories forever.

I have the whole Christmas week planned out with my mom. We are going to see two of my children who live in the middle of the Mystate and we will go see my son and his family who recently moved back to south Mystate. We are also going to the Biltmore in Asheville to see the Christmas decorations. I have built in some “veg-out” days where we can hang out and just enjoy each other’s company. Cycle Dude is taking the whole week off, so he will be vegging with us! I am looking forward to the memories we will make during the week. I know that when the day comes when my mom is no longer with us, I will look back on these days and be grateful for the time we had together.

I hope my children will also take this time to make some memories with their Grandma. We will visit my grandbaby, my mom’s fifth great-grandchild, and take a four generation picture with my mom, me, my son and my grandbaby. I will cherish that picture.

Wherever you are, whoever you are with, whatever you do this holiday season, spend some time making good memories. It is easy to have bad memories about your divorce. It is therapeutic to make good memories – to start new traditions, to make new friends, and to be grateful for another holiday season. Have a thankful heart and a joyous holiday. Stay tuned. . . . .

A Better Person

I have recently shared that I will be leaving my current job for a job at my Alma Mater – just across the river from where I am now.  Earlier this week, I was emailing a colleague in the Accounts Payable Department. She was sad to hear I am leaving. She told me, “You have made me want to be a better person and I’m working on it.” I felt humbled.

Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man (or woman) sharpens the countenance of his (her) friend.” I told my colleague that one of the signs of a good relationship – personal or professional – is that those involved become better people. There should be people in our lives who “sharpen” us and make us better people.

How does this happen?

Professional: Coworkers, supervisors and business associates should motivate us to be and to do our best. Improper relationships, shady dealings, work gossip and ‘working/cheating the system’ is not our best. Taking advantage of other people in the workplace is not our best.

Personal: Whether the relationship is friendship or romantic, we should aspire to influence one another for the best. Gossip, stealing, mocking, selfishness, any kind of abuse – none of these things is our best. Compassion, integrity, generosity, faith – these things are our best and we should encourage them in those we love and are friends with. If you have personal relationships that are dragging you down, causing an overwhelming darkness in your life or are just plain unhealthy (co-dependence, addiction, abuse, etc.), it’s time to re-evaluate and end that relationship.

I have a couple of friends who have been with me through the good times and bad times in my life. I have been with them through the same. One friend I refer to as ‘My Best Buddy”. Over the past 13+ years, we have sharpened one another. We have also rounded down the edges that have gotten a little too sharp! We know we can depend on one another (like the time she called me at 3am because she had a water pipe burst). Cycle Dude has made me a better person – more at peace, more generous.

Take time to consider if your relationships have made you a better person. If not, seriously consider ending them. Life is too short to waste it on bad relationships. Stay tuned. . .

 

Lawn Mower

I recently read about the new trend in parenting, the “Lawn Mower Parent”. These folks seem far worse than the “Helicopter Parent”. The Lawn Mower Parent mows down every obstacle in their child’s life so the child doesn’t have to overcome adversity, etc. Needless to say, this kind of parenting will produce very weak, pampered and entitled people – even more so that the Helicopter Parent.

A child is like a butterfly. If you help the butterfly out of its cocoon, it will die. the butterfly needs to struggle out of the cocoon to gain strength. It needs to let its wings unfold slowly so they will dry and also be strong. We do our children no favors when we mow down the obstacles for them. The obstacles are what causes strength and resiliency in a person’s life. Are they fun? Heck, no! But they are needed to allow us to grow into strong, healthy people.

One cannot live one’s life without some pain and adversity. I know of people who try to avoid pain at all costs – their lives are dull and they are dull. Getting out of bed in the morning is inviting pain and adversity. My divorce was one of the most painful things I had ever been through. I would much rather had gone through natural childbirth again! But I have come out of it a much stronger and more compassionate person.

We can spend so much time mowing down pain and adversity that we have little time for anything else. We may be mowing down flowers or insects – the little things that make life special. Weeds continue to pop up in different parts of the yard. As we go after one weed, another pops up and at the end of the day we are exhausted from mowing. Put the lawn mower away. A few weeds are good.

Yes, pain and adversity are not pleasant. That’s a ‘duhism’. But pain and adversity help us to become stronger. We grow and change in ways we never thought possible. And through that growth and change, we are able to be more empathetic toward others as they face pain and diversity in their lives. Isn’t that part of what life is about – helping one another along on this journey? Life is an adventure, live it! Stay tuned. . . .

Looking in the Rear View Mirror

When I was learning to drive (way back in the Dark Ages), my Driver’s Ed teacher told us we should constantly be scanning the rear view and side mirrors. I thought, “How can I do that and keep my mind on what’s in front of me?”

The aftermath of a divorce is sort of like driving – you have a destination and you need to keep your mind on what’s ahead of you, not constantly what’s behind you. Every now and then, my past raises its ugly head and I can easily get distracted and not be able to focus on the here and now and what is ahead. I have to remember that a) my past is under the grace of God and b) my past is past.

Sometimes it’s easy to go down that slippery slope and want to get caught up in the past. We have regrets, we feel angry, sad or bitter. Stop that!! Just like the rear view mirror on a car, the past is a tool: learn from your past, understand your mistakes, mature past your mistakes and move on. If you are constantly looking in the rear view mirror while you are driving, you’ll smash into something ahead of you! The same thing goes with your healing journey – look ahead, not behind.

In 1989, Christian Artist Bob Bennett released, “Lord of the Past”:

Every harsh word spoken
Every promise ever broken to me
Total recall of data in the memory
Every tear that has washed my face
Every moment of disgrace that I have known
Every time I’ve ever felt alone

Lord of the here and now
Lord of the come what may
I want to believe somehow
That you can heal these wounds of yesterday
(You can redeem these things so far away)
So now I’m asking you
To do what you want to do
Be the Lord of the Past
(Be the Lord of my Past)
Oh how I want you to
Be the Lord of the Past

All the chances I let slip by
All the dreams that I let die in vain
Afraid of failure and afraid of pain
Every tear that has washed my face
Every moment of disgrace that I have known
Every time I’ve ever felt alone

Today, resolve to spend more time looking ahead than looking behind. After all, you can’t change the past. Learn from it. Let God heal it. Stay tuned. . . .

 

 

 

Who Needs an Umbrella?

Today is Cycle Dude’s birthday. I got up very early to make him cinnamon rolls (the frozen kind) as well as to make a bouquet of chocolate covered Oreos (his favorite cookie!). We are going downtown tonight to do whatever he wants to do, then tomorrow we’ll have a birthday dinner with his son. I am excited! I enjoy making Cycle Dude’s birthday special because it’s just one way to show him how much I love him.

When I got to work, my boss was not in a very good mood. He has been very critical to me all day long. He has been short and impatient with me and has been getting easily angry with me. I was a little discouraged after several hours of his behavior. (But who knows what’s going on in his world?) My day started out so well and now it was not so well.

I had a choice to make – was I going to let my boss ‘rain on my parade’ or was I going to let the rain roll off my back and enjoy a wonderful evening with the man I love? I decided to enjoy the wonderful evening, of course.

We are faced daily with choices – are we going to choose joy or pain? Freedom or chains? Light or darkness?  It’s so easy to let others affect our choices. One wrong word can cause us to deflate like a balloon. But who has power in your life? YOU are the one who makes that decision. I did not give my boss the power to determine my mood or my value. I am the one who chooses to be happy or sad. Christ is the One who gives me value.

So, go ahead, boss, go ahead and rain. It’s not affecting me. I don’t need an umbrella because I choose joy with my sweetheart tonight. Stay tuned. . .

 

Sorting It Out

When I was getting ready to move in with Cycle Dude, I realized I had boxes and boxes of stuff I needed to sort through. I sorted and sorted and threw away and gave away stuff until I was blue in the face! Yet, I still moved into Cycle Dude’s house with what seemed like a million boxes! Now, eighteen months later, there are far fewer boxes and bins and I am still sorting and giving away stuff!

When I first started dating Cycle Dude, I was very conscious of the baggage I carried from my divorce. I did not want to take that baggage into a relationship. I was in counseling for a long time to unpack that baggage and finally get rid of it.

I held on to a lot of junk for a long time – both in the boxes and bins I carried with me every time I moved and in the emotional place in my heart. It took a while to sort it all out – to determine what stuff is worth keeping and what stuff is worth getting rid of.

What do I keep? I keep items that have sentimental or monetary value – family photos, gifts from my children, etc., and items that are part of the better me. I keep the strength I developed though the adversity of my marriage, I keep the ability to make wise decisions from the time I spent on my own.

What do I get rid of? I get rid of anything regarding ex, anything that has not or will not change my life for the better, anything I won’t use in the next 3 months. I get rid of the anger, the bitterness and the desire for vengeance. I get rid of anything that is not the better me.

It takes a while to sort it all out after a divorce – physically and emotionally. If you have been married for any length of time, it will take a while to untangle the tentacles of anger and bitterness. Give yourself grace. If you’re not quite ready to sort through that box, or talk about your experience, it’s okay. Healing and sorting take time. Learn to become a better you. Stay tuned. . .