Tag Archives: lessons learned

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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Not an Addiction?

(Note: This post will not be on my Facebook page. It may be too offensive.)One of the biggest names in Hollywood finally got caught – Harvey Weinstein is finally headed to rehab after years of sexual abuse of  some of the most famous leading ladies in Tinseltown (and beyond). This month’s Atlantic has quite a stinging criticism of the “sexual addiction” Weinstein claims he suffers from.

Author Dr. James Hamblin states, ‘ “Sex addiction” is not included in psychiatry’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, as the American psychiatric establishment chose to regard sex differently from other addictive behaviors—largely in that there are no serious physical symptoms of withdrawal.’ I beg to differ. You see, a deep-seeded sexual addiction was the demise of my marriage.

Ex and his brother were first exposed to pornography by their father, who found a stash of girly magazines in a dumpster and took them home. Their mother was aware of the magazines’ existence, but did nothing about it. This was due in part to the antiquated belief that porn was just a part of who a man was. It was also due to the dearly departed Hugh Hefner, who brought pornography into the mainstream as something all ‘gentlemen’ should have free access to.

Granted, Hefner wasn’t the first one to publish photos women, not was he the first man to ever have seen photos like that. However, he brought pornography out into the public arena. His magazine, his clubs, his TV shows – all objectified women as good for one thing only. We have Mr. Hefner to thank, in part, for all the knock-offs of his publication – Hustler, Penthouse and thousands of porn websites.

Dr. Hamblin, even though there may be ‘no serious physical symptoms of withdrawal’ from a sexual addition, I can attest first hand that there are very serious consequences of sexual addiction – lying, blaming, stealing. Those are actions associated with any other addiction. And also, as with any other addiction, there is destruction – of the addict’s family, home life, relationships, marriage, and finances.

Ex is a sex addict. (I say ‘is’ instead of ‘was’ because once an addict, always an addict. One must keep the addiction under control.) He displayed all the signs of addiction including those specifically mentioned above. He actions ruined our marriage. He is remarried and is now someone else’s responsibility. I cannot say if he ‘suffered’ symptoms of ‘withdrawal’ since I was not around him.

I have talked many times to my sons about this issue. I have encouraged them a) not to ‘indulge’ in pornography, b) to be aware of the long family history of this, and c) to get help if or when they must conquer this beast.

I don’t expect Mr. Weinstein to ‘cured’ of his addiction by a simple stint in a luxury European rehab. He has to do an about-face and resolve to conquer his demons on a daily basis. He can’t do that alone. Only Christ we be able to help him conquer the beast.

Sexual addiction is real. It grabs people with its tentacles and squeezes the life out of them. It destroys families and communities. It fuels even more evil pursuits. If you are facing this demon or someone you love is facing this demon, leave me a comment. We need to stand strong against this addiction. 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 . . . .

 

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. . . .

Wordsmith

I enjoy writing this blog. My main purpose is to encourage other women who are in my same age and stage of life, to let them know there is life after divorce, to let them know that even if ex is a _________ (fill in the blank), they don’t need to sink to his level, but can hold their heads high and continue on with life.

If you have read this blog for any length of time, you’ll notice a couple of things about my style of writing: 1) I usually start with a story from my own life, 2) I try to apply the principle of that story to something about divorce or being divorced, 3) I like lists and 4) I try to leave my reader with encouragement and the invitation to ‘Stay tuned . . . .”.

I enjoy writing. Sometimes it’s a challenge. I try to craft what I write, like a painter or a sculptor or a composer. There are times when the words and ideas flow. There are other times when nary a word comes to mind! How many blog posts have I started, only to reread them, deem them rubbish and delete them? I reread my posts after writing because I find that I often include too much detail or too little. I want to capture my readers’ attention and keep it, not have them give me a thumbs down for a particular post!

I’ve often heard, “Write what you know”. I know children, divorce, learning to love again, loss, siblings, and a host of other subjects. I tell people that what I don’t know, I make up. (Kidding!!)

I hope you enjoy what I write, dear reader. I hope I am an encouragement to you as you work your way through your divorce. I hope I am a kindred spirit, a sister on the same road as you – walking through life as a divorced person. Seven years on this side of a divorce, I can tell you that the first four years were pretty rough. Ex has remarried and lives in a different state and that has helped a great deal – to know I won’t be running into him and his latest love at the Farmer’s Marking downtown on Saturday morning (I did that for a couple of years).

I have found a man I dearly love and who loves me. My first grandchild is on her way. I have a job I enjoy.  Seven years this side of a divorce, my life is better. My hope is to continue to encourage you, to know that your life will get better, too. Hugs! 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. . . .

Be Prepared

I walked into work Tuesday morning to find that a survey team from a national  healthcare accrediting organization was on campus. The people at Myjob have been preparing for this organization’s visit for the better part of a year. The organization comes every 2-3 years to inspect the hospital for re-accreditation. Even though we expected the survey team in the fall, my boss said they could come as early as late spring or early summer. My boss has been preparing his team for this visit since October.

I am glad we have been preparing for this event. I have learned a great deal more about healthcare and what it takes to run a hospital. I have learned that it is better to be proactive than not. It is better to anticipate possible scenarios than to sit back and “let it slide”.

One thing I have learned, especially through my divorce, is to be prepared. I can honestly say, I was not prepared to divorce and then to deal with all the emotional, physical and financial flotsam and jetsam that accompanied it. Sure, I knew it was coming – I knew that several years before it actually happened. But I was still not prepared.

I wrote about this subject in a post entitled, “Storm Warnings”. However, I’d like to apply a little of what I have learned in preparation for this healthcare accreditation organization visit.

1.  Categories: Organize your divorce preparations into categories – financial, household, relational, work-related, etc. Sit down and make a list of these categories, then add the following: under financial – income, budget, savings, retirement, emergency fund (even though you may get alimony, don’t count it as income because it’s not going to be around forever and you don’t want to become overly dependent on it); under household – will you sell your home? Move into a new home/apartment? Need to have a yard sale? Need to replace household items? (hint: estate sales are good places to get household items – furniture, dishes, etc. if you need to set up a home.); under relational – How soon will you tell people of your (impending) divorce? Who will you tell? How do you break the news to important people in your life (children, parents, siblings, etc.)?

2. Rank: Once you have your categories and have broken them down into sub categories, give each sub category a ranking from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest) in order of priority. What things will you take care of first? What things can wait? Work on the #5’s first and cross them off your list when done. Number fives should be things like income (how are you going to support yourself?), housing (where are you going to live?), and debt (pay off old debts and don’t create any new ones until your are financially stable).

3. Finish: Once you have finished an item, cross it off your list. If you are really good and make a spreadsheet, hide that column/row when you’ve completed it. Once it’s done, it’s done.

4. Document, document, document: Keep a copy of all your records. Keep a phone log of your conversations with ex or of any electronic communication with ex. You may have to produce this information if it comes down to “he said – she said” in court. Be aware that unless you inform someone you are recording the conversation with them, that communication may be against the law. A good rule of thumb regarding keeping records and documents is 10 years. Instead of tons of boxes full of paper crowding up your spare bedroom, scan documents and store them on a flash drive, backup hard drive or on the ‘cloud’.

Everything we experience in our lives in a learning experience. We can take what we learn in one aspect of our lives (ex. work) and apply it to other aspects of our lives (personal). The thing is we should never stop growing and learning. And, yes, we can even learn from an unpleasant experience like a divorce. Stay tuned. . . .