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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Creating A Positive

Let’s face it. Living through a divorce, if nothing else, will certainly grow hair on your chest. It’s a powerful beast that has the potential to bring you to your knees and force you to question everything you ever liked about your self. It can force you to take a second look at your life and rethink every aspect of it. The amount of mental strain and emotional toll can easily affect every nook and cranny of your day and force you to spread yourself so thin that it makes giving anything 100 percent damn near impossible.

So what is one to do? How do you face all this crap and find the strength to put a smile on your face in front of your kids? Especially when your insides are churning with anxiety and you’re filled with self doubt about your ability to even pick out the correct flavor of water pouches at Kroger?

Well, I’m going to actually suggest you add to your day. I’ve spoken before about the fact that I try to run on a regular basis. Rain, snow, sleet, sun, doesn’t matter. It’s therapy for me. And this month I believe I learned the true value of my little slice of “me” time. For me it became a way of creating a positive result. A way for me to set an achievable goal when so many aspects of my life were forcing me to question my ability to achieve anything at all. For me running provided me with a way to set myself up for success so long as I was willing to follow through and force myself to give it proper attention and make it a priority.

The month of April was a tough one for me on many fronts. Thank God for friends and the positive influences that the universe has helped surround me with these past several months. But along with words of encouragement, I needed to have a tangible action that I could control. Something I could do where I could set a goal and remind myself that I’m capable of pushing myself to achieve those goals. I needed to feel like I accomplished something.

Along with being a tough month, April is my birth month. And so I turned to running as a means of setting a goal while at the same time creating a means of gauging my progress in life.

A little heavy I know, but bare with me. As running has been a constant in my life since I was about five, I saw an opportunity to make a statement. Since I began logging my milage a few years ago, I had run 100 miles in a month’s time only once. And to my recollection, I don’t ever remember being that constant enough with my running that I would have ever achieved that level. In my head I felt that if I could match my best month, then that would prove I stl had it in me to get better and that life couldn’t hold me back.

In March I managed to reach 70 and that was pushing it. And so … I set the goal of breaking my own personal monthly record of 100.3 miles.

Ironically, it turns out the negativity in my life was what made achieving my goal possible. Every time I had the rug pulled out from under me, I would lace em’ up and hit the pavement. I knew from past experience that I’d feel better, even if I could just get in a couple of miles.

Along with life’s hurdles, I also had the kids a lot those first couple of weeks of April, so I forced myself to make time after they got on the school bus to kick myself out the door. Eventually I started to find myself more mentally prepared for the day after working out some of the stress. Each run, in and of itself, was a victory; a goal reached; an accomplishment and I was soon addicted to that feeling as I wasn’t feeling it in many other areas of my life.

I grew to find value in each mile. Each run gave me a sense of self worth and accomplishment that countered my feelings of failure in other areas of my life.

And then one afternoon something incredible happened. I felt like I could go forever. I just kept going and going and it felt amazing. Before I knew it I’d logged 9 miles in one stretch. It felt incredible. Not only was I accomplishing goals, I was growing, progressing and getting stronger. I believe at one point I actually grunted like a cave man as I began to feel like I could transfer this positive feeling about myself to help attack some of the other negatives in my life. My energy increased. My belief in myself increased. And I started tackling negatives in other areas of my life out of shear will. The sense of positive was starting to take root. And the added bonus was the endorphins. I found myself being happy despite some incredibly stressful moments.

Even my reactions to the kids were changing. Reminding them to pick up their shoes for the 20th time didn’t seem to push my buttons quite as much. This in turn created a-NOTHER positive as my relationship with my kids improved. Then THEY got along better. It just reverberated.

I’m happy to announce that today I reached my goal of 100.3 miles. I’m actually at 101.3 and I still have two more days left. But as great as the big goal feels it’s the little ones I’ve grown to count on. If I can just get one mile in, it’s a positive accomplishment. It’s progress. It’s moving forward. And some days it’s all I’ve got. And for that I’m grateful because it reminds me that I CAN regain control and I CAN conquer a task. It simply reminds me that I have the ability to make something good happen. Something that I control. And that to me is empowering in a world that can tend to suck the life out of a person.

So what is something YOU can do to create a positive result in your life. What is something YOU can control to start building a foundation of good energy? I would encourage you to find something you enjoy doing that can provide you with a sense of accomplishment. Something you have to force yourself to do for YOU. Maybe it’s reading a chapter of a book a day. Or using your YMCA membership more routinely. Maybe it’s organizing a closet. Or painting a wall. Who cares what it is. If it reminds you that you’re capable, that you’re worthy, that you have a skill or a talent or half a brain … that’s really all that matters.

I hope somewhere in these 1200 or so words you can find something that triggers a thought in your head. A germ of an idea of how you can begin to rebuild your own self worth. Especially if somewhere inside you’re questioning your ability to be everything you once thought you could be. What are your goals? What are some first steps you can take to combat the negativity. I hope you’ll share what you decide to do to create a positive result in your own life. I’d love to hear about it!

 

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Someone’s Ringin’ A Bell

When I started this blog several months ago I had no idea the range of emotions I would endure. Nor was I prepared for the continued ebbs and flows my life would encounter as every corner of my life would be turned upside down. It’s easy to sit down and tell readers to stay positive and profess “you can do it!” with some days being easier than others. But practicing what you preach, as you’re well aware, is a real battle some times.

Some days it’s not as easy to project a positive energy and cheer people on, especially when you see important life sustaining pillars within your own world starting to crumble. I say this to you because I don’t want you to feel that I’m here to preach about staying positive from a mountain top I’ve managed to climb. I’m not an expert. Like you, I battle daily, sometimes hourly, with the stresses that come from this incredible life transformation. The truth is I’m still climbing. And some days rocks knock me back down. Hell some days it’s more like an avalanche. My point is, as much as I’m here to share the victories and encourage you, I’m also continuing to go through my own journey. And as you well know, it’s no cake walk.

Those who know me, know that I’m not one to ask for help. My pride is pretty damn strong. I do things the way I want to and when life immerses me in negativity I tend to shutter up the windows and wait until I’ve managed to fix things before I let people in again. Pretty sad huh? For some reason I’m finding that in this instance perhaps I’m taking the wrong approach. Perhaps it’s time to start letting people come in and help with the renovation. I keep getting beat over the head by people telling me I shouldn’t walk this journey alone. But that’s easier said than done. When that’s all you’ve ever done, it’s difficult to clear off the passenger seat and let someone ride shotgun let alone drive when you can’t go another mile.

Which is why I’m starting to open myself up a bit and invite more people in. And I encourage you to do the same. I’ve learned something these past few months thanks to some old friends as well as some fairly new ones. Confining yourself to your home and watching a part of your world fall to ruin by yourself is not only counter productive, it’s incredibly unhealthy and potentially dangerous.

I recently had the distinct honor of meeting with several war veterans. Regardless of their age or time of active duty, they all spoke to one very important detail about transitioning to civilian life after they retired from the military, whether because of injury or they simply retired. They all told me the most important aspect of transitioning back into civilian life was to ensure that you create a support group around you. As service members, they were accustomed to being part of a team that helped each other through every battle. They grew to rely on the safety net provided by the team that surrounded them. But once their tour of duty was finished, sitting alone in their home made them feel incredibly isolated and vulnerable. They stressed the importance of not going it alone and that it’s impossible to win a war by yourself.

Now, I’m not about to compare living day to day on the front line with the end of a relationship. But as someone who has routinely tackled life on my own, I couldn’t help but be taken by their personal stories and the lessons they came away with. Transitioning from one life to another can be incredibly daunting and overwhelming. You’re filled with insecurities and fears of judgement that you somehow failed and that you’re unworthy of friendship or love. And don’t even get me started on the financial burdens that come with turning your life 180 degrees, regardless of the reason. Everyone has been telling me the same thing; you need to find the strength within to open up to someone if not multiple someones. And they WANT to be there for you. Just as I want to be there for you, to help you see that you’re not alone and you’re not the only one experiencing this. Make that effort to confide in someone or better yet find someone who may be dealing with the same life altering experience. My new military friends stressed the importance of finding people who can relate to what you’re going through. Not only can people be there for YOU, but in turn YOU can be there for them and walk away with a sense of self worth. And after all, isn’t that what we’re all looking for in the first place?

So I thank you for walking this journey with me and encourage you to not only continue but invite others to join us. In the words of Paul McCartney, “Someone’s knockin’ at the door, Somebody’s ringin’ a bell. Do me a favor, open the door and let’m in.”

Perhaps together we can help each other find our way to the top of that mountain.

 

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Shut Up And Listen

When it comes to dealing with girls, 10 year old boys can be dumb. I can make that statement because at one time I was one and I hung out with many more of them. They really have no idea what they’re saying or how their words are being received by a sensitive little 10 year old girl who is suddenly all about body image. Eventually, they will grow up to be young men who will say things that are hurtful without even realizing it. They’re clueless. The scary thing is, along with my two daughters, in a few years, I’ll have one of THOSE running around the house as well.

It’s not for lack of trying mind you. Many times we walk away from a conversation with a female all proud of ourselves internally convinced we nailed it. Meanwhile the girl has walked away thinking “what an idiot.” We mean well mind you; but no clue.

Part of the problem is we don’t listen. We really don’t. Even when we’re listening, we’re not listening.

And so it stands that the other night after an argument with my 10 year old daughter, I decided it was time to just listen.

I will tell you point blank; I do not envy our youth. I would not want to be 10 years old today. The issues they’re facing are the same ones we didn’t face until we were well into our teens and it’s scary to think that these sensitive little minds are having to cope with body issues and maturity issues they shouldn’t even be exposed to for another 3-4 years. But they are and so here we are as parents, needing all the more to just listen.

My ex-wife told me that her perception is that our 10 year old doesn’t feel heard. And I think she nailed it. As soon as I just sat and listened for 90 minutes it was like a whole new little girl emerged. She became a chatter box and I heard all about the challenges this little person deals with on a daily basis and they have nothing to do with long division or geography. Those are a cake walk compared to the social anxiety forced upon 4th graders today. If you’ve seen the movie “Mean Girls,” imagine the same thing in elementary school because that’s exactly what my daughter described.

So what’s a parent to do? You know I think the answer is relatively simple. Just be there to listen. You can let them know that people typically have no idea that they’re hurting your feelings when they do, especially 10 year old boys. You can also reassure them that it’s not worth their energy to try to keep up with the prissy little rich girl who sticks her nose up in the air at everything everyone else does. But really, just let them be heard in a non-judgemental way.

Internally, recognize that their anxiety is real. They may be 6 or 8 or 10, but their emotions are heavy and the world is already being mean to them. They need your support any way they can get it. And that little 5 year old boy sitting next to them in the car? He needs to see the affects of the words he’s going to be saying in a few years if not already. And we need to take the time to point it out to him. The whole “boys will be boys” excuse is bunk. But that’s a whole other topic.

You know, we get so wrapped up in our own concerns that it becomes very easy to just brush off a little kid’s ‘worries.’ I’ve done it. I’m sure you have too at some point. But tomorrow they’re going to be 15 and it’s going to be too late. They’ll have been bombarded with hateful words and actions for far too long for you to just walk in and fix it. The need to counter the negativity in their lives needs to start now. And sometimes that’s just the simple act of walking away from Facebook for 30 minutes and listening to your daughter talk about boys saying mean things.

 

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Creative Expression

As someone who has spent their entire life creating, it came as no surprise that the experience of going through a divorce would lead to some sort of creative expression beyond the blog. While going through my own experience, a songwriter friend of mine was watching several other friends go through the same thing. So one day last October we sat down and penned a song about relationships that come to an end.

Other friends of mine that I’ve worked with on various projects joined in and low and behold, we came up with this.

While I’ve come to terms with so many aspects of the past year, and am proud of the relationship my ex-wife and I share, there is no denying that the process of a divorce is a painful one. It can leave a person feeling lonely, depressed, insecure, the list goes on. We all need to find our way of dealing with the pain and negativity associated with the loss of a relationship two people have worked so hard to build. For me personally it was writing, both this blog and music. For you it may be painting or the simple act of walking more often. Regardless, I think it’s important that we find ways of coping with this sort of pain that allow us to release the negativity and focus on the positives. As I mentioned in my previous post, reflecting sometimes forces you to take a good hard look at yourself. We may not always like what we see, but if we can learn from it that’s really all that matters. Expressing yourself, sharing your thoughts, getting it out there helps relieve the inner struggles as you suddenly feel like you’re not dealing it with alone.

My hope is that by sharing my experience, perhaps those who are reading this blog or watching the video can find some peace knowing they’re not the only one going through it and that there are ways to overcome the negativity associated with a separation or divorce.

Please share the video if you like it and pass along the blog if you like what you’re reading!

 

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Spring Mental Cleaning

How do you do it? I’m relatively new at this game having been officially divorced for only about 8 months. And I can’t help but look at people who have done this and sometimes wonder, HOW in the world do you manage to survive?

Now, I’ll admit, I’ve made some mistakes these past few months and have been thrown several curve balls that haven’t helped matters, but I can’t help but think that this wasn’t a cakewalk for anyone who’s divorced with kids. The sheer volume of additional responsibilities thrust upon you after a separation is mind blowing. I’m not complaining mind you. I’m doing my best and somehow have gotten this far. But I woke up the other day and realized that in many areas, I’ve fallen backward rather than moved forward in terms of where my life is. I’ve dug some fairly deep holes which seemed like good ideas at the time, but are now making survival all that more strenuous. Trying to be all things to all people has caught up with me a bit and I’m finding myself desperately trying to regroup.

And what brings me peace? Of all things it’s cleaning the house. If I can have the house in order I feel like my foundation is set and I can build from there. If the house is in disarray … then I feel completely disheveled, lost, frustrated and overwhelmed. Maybe it’s because in my head then I feel like I’m falling behind in all aspects of my life. But as soon as I fold and put away a load of laundry, make the beds, put things away, clean the floors and get rid of clutter, suddenly I feel ready to tackle another one of life’s challenges.

I’m sure my ex-wife would fall over hearing that. But it’s true and I think on some level I have a new appreciation for some of her tirades about picking up after ourselves or putting things away when we were done with them. I mean, I got it before, but now I understand more of the root of those emotions. It’s not just about having an orderly house, it’s about having an orderly life. Something I wish I’d recognized in my 20’s.

And to those of you who have managed to survive to this point. I tip my hat. No one can fully appreciate what this is like, nor can anyone entering into this have any sort of knowledge of what’s coming. I just hope and pray there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Because I won’t lie. There are day’s I’m not so sure.

Well, my desktop is currently full of crap and it’s driving me crazy. So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to wrap up this entry and start purging.

 

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