Friday, June 28, 2013

Not Holding On Versus Letting Go

I was speaking with one of my closest friends who is also dealing an affair about the fact that it is X number of years later and we still feel the hurt, sadness and resentment about what happened.  Thought she stayed married and I did not, the repercussions of such a trauma is much the same.

One thing we agreed is that you can’t chose to let go. Everyone says “let it go” as if healing is a choice you can make but I can assure you, if I could choose to “let it go” and never feel this pain again, I would do so in a heartbeat!  Unfortunately my experience is that we let go when our mind, heart, body and soul is ready to let go.  But we can choose not to hold on. We can choose to replace the thoughts of resentment with thoughts of strength gained from the experience.  We can choose to bypass the negativity and get on with the business of living life and finding the proverbial strawberries amongst the tigers (see “Tigers Above, Tigers Below” from May 30).

Each time I feel the familiar pain, triggered by every-day, ordinary events such as seeing a family at the park together, I take a deep breathe and tell myself not to hold on...I imagine my left side releasing the pain and the hurt and relaxing just a bit more with the hope that one day my left side will have let it all go.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Summer Reading List

I’ve noticed a trend in the publication of Summer Reading Lists for blogs everywhere, so here is mine - short and sweet and looking for suggestions!

Defending Jacob - riveting story that was so engaging it took less than a week to read
Lessons in French - romantic fiction about a girl in Paris learning about love and learning about herself (I’m a sucker for any ‘finding yourself while in Paris’ stories)
Gone Girl - if you haven’t read it, it is a must read!  Gripping from start to finish.
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead - this book is full of ‘ah ha’ moments (and there is even a series of Super Soul Sunday clips of the author, Brene Brown, with Oprah to complement it!)

What is on your summer reading list?  I downloaded a few new books that I will share as I work my way through them.

Can’t find time to read?  Grab a Kindle and read on the elliptical. This is a small slice of heaven, as you feel better physically while getting a mental escape for a while (plus you’ll find you will stay on the elliptical longer when you don’t want to put the book down!)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

“Fearlessness is not the same as the absence of fear”

Fantastic blog post by Seth Godin (realistically, all of his blog posts are fantastic) on the difference between fear and fearlessness.

I am aiming to be fearless....though in my panic I frequently find myself pushing up against the fear trying to erase it rather than using it to build strength from. Check it out: “Fearlessness is not the same as the absence of fear”

Monday, June 24, 2013

Skies Reflected in Her Eyes

Major bonus points if you can relate the phrase above to the popular 80’s song “Your Wildest Dreams” by the Moody Blues.

Last week I took Grace to a big kids fest charity event in Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, to a friend’s dance recital, and capped off the week at a free outdoor concert in the park by our township building.  It was reinvigorating, reassuring and downright fun to get out and have new experiences with Grace (especially seeing how well she handled them all!)  During the concert last night, Grace leaned back in the way that 2 year olds love to do and I could see the blue sky and the clouds reflecting in her eyes. It was the most beautiful sight. In that moment I said a prayer of thanks for this perfect moment and our evening together. 

Ghosts of Summers Past

If I’ve been looking for a cosmic sign to reassure myself that I’m neither broken nor past my expiration date, then it came this weekend in the form of a parade of former flings!  I went to the beach for less than 24 hours and ran into:

Hot Hair - whom I haven’t and barely heard from since we hung out over Memorial Day. He gave me a wink (perhaps a ‘I hung out with you and dropped off the radar’, though more likely ‘you are looking cute, see you later).  I did not see him later because he didn’t make it out but we did exchange a few texts which reinforced a few things: a) gosh is he cute b) gosh is he flaky and c) he is not dating material and it’s time that I listen to my more evolved instincts and move on!

The Teacher - flashback to February and The Teacher from At the time, he was freshly out of a relationship and tried to hit up the dating scene too soon. It was great to see him and we agreed to meet up for a drink sometime....just as friends.

Mr. Nice Guy - (see August 2012).  Still nice as ever, we had a fun, witty exchange and followed with a few texts. I could foresee a possible hang out in the future....just as friends.

What did I take away from this whirlwind of Ghosts of Summers Past?  I’ve spent so much time being hard on myself and repeating some awful thoughts and theories that only exist in my nightmares, not in reality. When I pull out all of the positives (like being warmly greeted by 3 past flings) the story takes a totally different shape!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Friday, June 21, 2013

In the Middle

I keep going back to this quote by Pema Chondron, “When we draw a line down the center of a page, we know who we are if we’re on the right side and who we are if we’re on the left side. But we don’t know who we are when we don’t put ourselves on either side. Then we just don’t know what to do. We just don’t know.  We have no reference point, no hand to hold. At that point we can either freak out or settle in. Contentment is a synonym for loneliness, cool loneliness, settling down with cool loneliness.”

I know for sure that I have absolutely no idea where I am right now or who I am.  I continue to portray myself in my head as broken. But I’m no longer broken.  I dream of being whole. But I am not whole yet.  I’m in the middle.  And I don’t know what to do here!

I find myself proactively offering excuses to people for being in the perceived state that I am (the perception of being broken). I’ve convinced myself that in terms of dating, I’ve passed my expiration date because I’m more interested in spending quality time with my little girl than I am in bonding with a beer bottle at the latest hip spot. Even writing this blog, I think ‘wow, readers must wonder why can’t this chick pull it together already?’ But those are my perceptions.

What about the flip side?  Do people see a strong woman who is in the process of healing while raising a wonderful daughter, holding down a demanding job, maintaining her own home and holding all of this together while staying fit, fashionable and hip?  Why excuses need to be offered for that person - isn’t pride the logical feeling that would follow?

I want to find contentment in the middle. Peace with being alone.  Knowing that I am enough.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

“I will be the person she can learn from.”

Each evening when the weather is good, Grace and I eat dinner on the deck. And each evening we greet the birds who eagerly perch on the ledge near us.  Grace thinks they have come to say hi, but I know that their nest full of babies sits in the large bush behind us and they are merely staking out their turf to ensure that no one messes with their babies.

I’m waiting for the magical moment when it gets easier to say goodbye to my child when she goes to her dad.  Apparently, for those birds, that time does not come when your child is still a baby who is defenseless and dependent on you to sustain them.

Two days ago her father was leaving my house and Grace said, “I coming with Daddy” and tried to leave with him. I was crushed. I slowly left the room and hid my tears that came pouring out when I reached the safety of a bedroom.  Why does she want to go with HIM? The one who destroyed her family? Who put his desires before her well-being?  My heart broke into a thousand pieces knowing he gets the invaluable gift of her love and affection without having done anything to earn it.  Who twisted her body inside and out to get pregnant? Who watched the baby while he lied to work saying he was spending time with his newborn daughter but was really visiting his girlfriend? Who got up with Grace every waking night of her infancy while he was off “living the life of a 25 year old” as he so desired?

He came to pick her up this morning to take her to visit his family for a long weekend. While I recognize that it is good that she spends time with that side of her family, having someone take your child away from you for three days feels unnatural and a bit sickening.  Those birds get a fierce look in their eye anytime you walk near their sacred nest and I had the same look this morning. How dare he take her away from me. He’s taken time with her away from me since she was 10 weeks when he decided everything was about him and carelessly created havoc and wrecked in the life that I had worked so hard to build, Leaving the rest of to pay the high price of the consequences. For this reason, I have nicknamed him HWB (Human Wrecking Ball).

After Grace pulled away in her father’s car and I gave the one last happy mommy face and waved goodbye, I closed the the front door and melted down. How can things be so unfair? How can life be so cruel?

So when is that magic moment where things become ok?  I don’t know. But I do know that I need to let go. Let go of the resentment that he is a weak human being whose foundation was never fully formed.  Let go of the resentment that I have endured suffering more than I thought I could ever withstand.  Let go of the resentment that life did not turn out as I had hoped. Let go of the resentment that I feel pain on a daily basis that was not there before.  Let go of the resentment that the tsunami of our divorce left me less of a parent that I had planned to be.  I need to let go. For me, for my health, and most of all, for Grace.  Because the importance of Grace having a loving father in her life far outweighs the resentment I am holding so tightly on to (see Monday’s post about left side pain!).

It is with this recognition that I am focused on providing Grace a healthy, happy environment which means encouraging her relationship with her father and at least acting happy when she leaves to go with him so that she knows mommy is happy that Grace is leaving for a weekend of fun.  I am using that focus to push down the strong urge I have to tell my ex off. I want to scream and yell and remind him of his awful deeds. Inform him, again, that the consequences of such did not just disappear because a bit of time has gone by.  But I won’t. Because it won’t help Grace.  The only thing that will help is if I foster her father-daughter relationship. And one day, if he should cause her pain, I will be there to provide unbiased perspective so that she doesn’t internalize his actions as a reflection of herself but instead recognizes him as a flawed human being, but one that loves her. She will learn from me.  So I will to be the person she can learn from.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Ready (or Not) to Start Dating Again

A common theme that has been reoccurring lately is that I miss dating.  I continue to say I’m “not dating” yet that is the exact thing I hope to be doing!  Therefore, following on my June 3rd post, I have decided that I want to date when I meet someone who has potential.  This will hopefully help to eliminate the dates where you are wishing you were already home in your pajamas and will encourage the dates where you wish it would never end.  Where will I meet these lucky candidates? I have no idea! But I’m considering giving a try, as I haven’t met may ‘potentials’ out lately.  Wish me luck!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Ouch, My Life Side Hurts!

From various lifting activities including lifting Grace (in heels), pouring gigantic bags of mulch in the garden, and hoisting other too-heavy objects into the air, I have created a good deal of pain in my back. It goes from my shoulder and neck - twisted up from stress, through my lower back - yanked and unhappy from weight, down through my too tight IT band - pulling on my knee, into my calf which has formed a new knot making it impossible to stretch my hamstring when bent over because my calf pulls instead.

“Stop complaining and go to the masseuse” is likely what you are thinking, and that is exactly what I did. I returned to The Healer for another round of grinding out knots and discussing the wisdom of hope and love applied to real life.  

As soon as I laid down, I told her my left side was messed up, starting with my neck and shoulders. She said “Your left side is not messed up - your shoulders are stiff so they are stuck. Sometimes we think we are stuck because of things we feel and we forget we can evolve and heal and feel better.”  (I swear, I don’t even think she meant that as an overarching nugget of wisdom, yet there it was!)

As she kneaded her way down my back she told me that in Chinese medicine, the body has 2 halves: The left is the feminine, it is where we hold vulnerability. The right is the masculine.  What a coincidence that my left body is wracked with pain and tension!  I asked how I could fix my left side to get rid of the pain and she said “you have to let it go”.  She suggested that once ready, I hold a ritual-type ceremony to acknowledge that which I am holding tightly on to, that which I am ready to let go of because it is no longer necessary and no longer is a part of me. She went so far as to say to write it down so each pain that is literally entrenched in me is articulated so I am clear as to what I am letting go of.

The idea of a ceremony was a beacon of light shining through. Letting go of the painful things that I’m holding onto so tightly - why didn’t I think of that?!  I invite you to hold your own private ceremony and let go of the pains you have been holding on to.  And I’d love to hear if you experience any lightening on your left side once that weight is lifted.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

I'm Going to be Happy at Work Plan

Related to yesterday’s blog post on making your situation the best, another comment that struck me right upside the head this week came from my Uncle. I told him about the disappointment in my new job and he said “each day I said to myself “I’m going to be happy at work today” and I had to choose to do so.”  Elementary - yet genius!

As an addendum to the “make your situation the best” plan, here is Diana Prince’s “I’m going to be happy at work” plan:
- Listen to music that I enjoy at least once a day at work - it takes me out of the environment to a happy place
- Have a friendly conversation with someone unexpected each day - establishes connection and all around makes the workplace warmer if everyone did this!
- Send a short pick me up email to one friend each day - keeping connection with friends alive and fresh!

Suggestions needed - what do you do to be happy at work each day?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Make Your Situation the Best

Admittedly, I’ve been in a bit of a blue spot. 2 years ago, I was hating life 7 days a week. Now it is down to an average of 2 days a week. However in the last month of so I’ve been feeling blue. Disappointed that the new job isn’t what I was hoping for.  Missing my friends who are going in other directions for various reasons. Unsure of how to manage the duality of the contentment found in not dating versus the isolation felt from not dating.  (Although ironically, when a close friend bid goodbye after a lunch, she said “be happy” to which I thought “I am happy...I’m just having a spot of blue amidst the happy”)

In speaking with my Mom she said, “you make the best of your situation”. I found this to be depressing. I’m sure it is supposed to be an optimists tag line but somehow ‘making the best’ of something sounds like settling. Saying “ok, this isn’t what I wanted but I’ll make the best of it”.  That is not what I wanted for my life, nor do I have any interest in living a life that I settled for.  Upon discussion this phrase with Little Buddha she promptly replied, “don’t make the best of your situation, make your situation the best!”  YES!!  This is what I need - this is how it is meant to be. Most of our situations are out of our control. But I don’t want make the best of what feels like a less-than situation, I want to make a situation that I feel is less-than into the best - more-than - awesomeness.

Now if only making your situation the best was as easy as deciding that is what you want to do.  The bigger step is figuring out how to actually do it.  I’m a planner - it’s in my DNA and it’s how I function. Therefore, a plan is needed...

Diana Prince’s “make my situation the best” plan:
- Each time I have a “this is less-than what I wanted” thought - replace it with a “I am so lucky to have” thought.
- When I feel isolated, send a text to a friend to say hi
- Play the piano more!!  When I sit down to play, everything melts away and, though cheesy as it sounds, it literally feels like a spiritual connection to the universe - to every note that is being played in that moment, to all of the notes that have been played before and all of the notes that will come.  Don’t believe me? Give it a try!
- Read a good book - nothing brings new perspectives in a more enjoyable manner than a good book!

What else can be done to make your situation the best? How do you combat the blue spots that unwillingly arise?

Monday, June 3, 2013

An Unintended Side Effect of the Month of Me

While the Month of Me was effective in lowering my anxiety with no worries of whom I should be meeting and where I should be going, it also had an unintended side effect that my confidence has dropped. Although I have turned down various guys during 2013, that also means I haven’t been out on many dates.  As a result, I don’t feel attractive or desirable in any way. In fact, when I’m out, I fear that all guys see is a 34 year-old going on 84 who is slightly broken and worse for the wear.  I thought that taking time to yourself was supposed to boost self-esteem, not make you feel worse!  This is in part due to the lack interaction\interest from guys and part due to a feeling of isolation which is magnified when you aren’t dating.

In the last week I was asked out by 2 guys who are both nice enough, but I want to turn them both down because neither really peaks my interest and gets me excited to go out. There are 2 paths:
1) If I complain that I feel isolated, then I should get out there and give any guy a chance who seems like he is on the up and up.  
2) If I want to keep my energy for myself, I need to accept that means a bit of feeling isolated, and wait until I meet someone who really peaks my interest before saying yes.

What do you think? I’ve been flip flopping on which way to go!  What would you do?