Tag Archives: resources

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. . . .

Life is Not Pinterest Perfect

Every now and then, I run across articles on the internet about ‘Pinterest fails’. You know the kind. Pinterest makes everything look so nice and easy, all wrapped up in the perfect little bow. However, life is far from Pinterest perfect, as the Pinterest fail photos will attest to. Some folks, try as they might to follow directions and attempt that perfect little clown’s head cupcake, just aren’t fated to be Pinterest success stories.

And that’s okay. Life is not Pinterest Perfect. What you don’t see on Pinterest is the many times Suzy tried that certain thing and failed, until the planets aligned just right and the 103rd time was the charm for that little clown head cupcake. How many times do we hear of success, but not the failure that led to that success?

We ought not be fooled that every success is achieved on the very first try. I would have liked to have met Thomas Edison. His attempt at the incandescent light bulb failed nearly 1,000 times. When asked about his ‘failures’, he stated that they were not failures, but ideas that didn’t work. He had the right attitude. He kept going until he got it right. I’m sure there were times when Thomas Edison was frustrated, but he didn’t let that frustration define him, or thwart his efforts. He had a vision and he kept the goal in sight.

As women who have been divorced mid-life, we may hear of other women’s successes – in marriage, in business, in romance, in life. We may look at their lives as ‘Pinterest perfect’. But they aren’t. No one’s life is perfect. You are on the path you are on for a reason. When I was going through a divorce, I heard of women who had amicable divorces, whose husbands paid alimony on time and who were “still friends” with their ex. I thought, “No way! That’s impossible!!” But did I know all the details? Did I know what their marriage had been like? No. Like Shakespeare said, “Appearances can be deceiving.”

Go ahead and set goals, and put your energy toward achieving them. Don’t put your energy toward the Pinterest Perfect Life – it’s a myth. BTW? The ‘Pinterest Fails’ serve one purpose – to show us that no one is perfect! Stay tuned. . . .

 

Don’t Despair

My choice of radio program for news and current events is NPR. Recently, they did a piece on life expectancy and how that has changed in the US over the past 20 years. The research quoted in the piece concurs that the life expectancy for whites is decreasing, especially among poorer whites. That information can be discouraging. While reading that piece, I also read a companion piece entitled, “Explaining the Forces Driving the Middle Aged White People’s ‘Deaths of Despair’. The information and research presented is quite sobering.

Granted, the study dealt with white people, but other races may also feel the same way – that a lack of steady, well-paying jobs for those people without college degrees can cause distress and depression in their lives. I can see how this – the lack of meaningful employment – could cause such despair. I saw that in my ex when he lost job after job after job – and he had a college degree!

What is one to do in a situation like this? You’re middle-aged, don’t have a college degree, but need to be able to support yourself. Many divorced or divorcing women find themselves in this situation. Along with the divorce comes lack of self-confidence and depression. May I suggest the following?

1. Consider community resources: Look into the community resources where you live. Changes are there are low-cost or free (re)training classes in several skills – clerical, retail, etc. Take advantage of what is available to you in your community. Your local YWCA may also have resources available for women returning to the work force.

2. Consider a temporary job: Placement services are always looking for temporary workers to fill in where needed. Your local university and civil service (city and county government) also have temporary job pools available. Temporary opportunities are a way to get your foot in the door for a permanent job.

3. Consider online or evening classes: Many community colleges have evening classes that cater to the working adult. Speak to the financial aid department and find out what kind of aid is available to you in order to assist you going back to school to hone current skills or learn new skills.

4. Consider a support group: We were not meant to walk through life alone. Find a support group of either divorced women or women (re) entering the workforce. By being a group of similar-experienced people, you will find out that you are not alone in your pursuits.

Start out slowly, setting and accomplishing small goals. One example is to improve your keyboarding skills or note-taking skills. Celebrate the small victories you have. Those small victories will go a long way in building self-confidence. Don’t despair. There is hope, there are resources, and there is a way to be able to stand confident again. Stay tuned . . . .

Missing x

When I started dating Cycle Dude, I soon realized our backgrounds were very different. For example, my family always celebrated the holidays and made a big deal out of family gatherings. Cycle Dude doesn’t. His holiday celebrations are minimal. I know that if I want to really celebrate the holidays, I have to bring my experience into them – whatever holiday it is. It’s getting better, but I miss the familiarity of how I celebrated holidays with my family – both immediate and extended.

Getting and being divorced is venturing into the unfamiliar. Sometimes, we may feel like we wish we would have stayed with ex because at least we knew what to expect. Our lives may not have been perfect, but they were familiar. For me, I do not miss ex. What had become familiar to me was doing things on my own. A friend pointed out to me that for some time prior to my divorce, I had been making all the financial decisions, familial decisions, etc. anyway.

You may feel like you miss the familiarity of your ex even though your marriage was bad. Would you prefer to stay in that toxic relationship? Heavens, no! Neither did I! It was scary to venture forth on my own. I learned a great deal about myself in the days following my divorce. I learned I could make good decisions. I learned what a peaceful existence felt like. I learned that I didn’t have to walk around angry or suspicious all the time. I learned that I could live on my own.

I learned to use resources at my disposal – a counselor, a financial class, my friends and my church, my bank. I developed a new routine in my life and embraced a new normal. Seven years later, I see that I have changed for the better. I do not miss the chaos and darkness my life had become in my marriage. Now I know order and peace. Give yourself grace as you develop confidence and find your new normal. Stay tuned . . . .

Unexpected Sinkholes

Normally, I don’t post twice in one day, but . . . . it seems I’ve done that quite frequently! I live in a part of the country known for its karst topography, or the numerous limestone caves. Limestone is a sedimentary rock. Millions of years ago, this part of the country was underwater, which accounts for the limestone. Limestone is made out of the shells of sea creatures which contain calcium carbonate. As rainwater falls, it picks up carbon dioxide and forms a weak carbonic acid. This acid eats away at the limestone, producing caves and sinkholes. Some sinkholes are harmless, but others cause quite a bit of destruction (Google ‘sinkholes’ and you’ll see the recent ones in Florida as well as the giant one in Guatamala City several years ago).

We got word today after lunch that our grounds manager discovered a sinkhole. Luckily, it is not as big as one we had a couple of months ago that closed several lanes on the freeway. We’ll see if this one expands or if it is fixable in its current state. We should have expected this because of all the rain this part of the country had over the last weekend.

Whether you are divorced or not, you will run across sinkholes in your life – things that threaten to shut down or sideline your forward progress – illness, financial problems, job issues, relational difficulties. When the sinkhole at Myjob was discovered, we called out the appropriate personnel – the Department of Transportation, the utility provider, and the management at Myjob. Each person has their own sphere of responsibility in resolving the sinkhole issue.

When you face a sinkhole in your life, call out the appropriate personnel or experts to help you shore up that weakness: illness – seek medical help or professional help if you have mental issues; financial – seek out your banker and sit down with them to determine your best course of action; job issues – talk to your boss or someone in your Human Resources Department; relational difficulties – speak to a counselor who specializes in relationship issues. And pray, asking God for wisdom in dealing with the sinkhole. The sinkhole is not permanent, but if you don’t deal with it when you first notice it, it will only get bigger and cost more to fix. Dear one, give yourself grace as you deal with the sinkholes in your life. They are a learning experience. 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. . . .