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Monthly Archives: December 2013

Your Loss Is Your Gain

Thought I’d stop and check in on you. How’s your holiday been so far? It can be a tough time for a lot of people and divorced parents are no exception. There’s something about the season that can make us focus on what we’ve lost rather than what we may have gained. Whether or not you have a good relationship with your ex, the
griefholidays have a way of reminding you of the un-whole aspect of your family and then unceremoniously throwing it in your face. It may be because you’re not with your kids during the holiday. It may be because you are. It may be because you’re all together but in a very different dynamic than you were a few years ago. It may even be a very positive and happy time. But it’s still a reminder of what used to be and that things may be patched, but in some ways they’re still broken.

Believe me I get it. The hard part is that there really is no “fix.” As with the loss of a loved one, all you can do is that which fate allows, which is to acknowledge and move on. Be strong. Lick your wounds, stand up straight and use your experience to your advantage. In many ways the hurt strengthens us. There’s a grit to it that allows us to know we’ve been there and made it through. It doesn’t erase the negative or fill the emptiness, but there’s something about having lived through adversity that humbles us and reminds us that we’re human.

Look, I could sit here and do my best to pump you up with words of encouragement; telling you not to focus on the pain. But honestly, I think sometimes we need to morn our losses. We need to give our souls a chance to heal. To ignore the pain is no more healthy than it is to dwell on it. If you’re sad, that’s OK. Give yourself an opportunity to grieve. It’s a part of who you are and to ignore it would be to ignore an important element of the whole “you.” So embrace it. Accept it. Carry it with you. Hold it dear rather than bury it deep where it can do
the-only-cure-for-grief-is-actionmore damage. I believe that in each of our defeats there is a victory. In every mistake a lesson to be learned. The new year represents a new dawn and an opportunity to take the sum of our experiences and build on them. To create new goals and new aspirations. To find renewed determination to make it better. And in order to do that we need to remember the hurt as much as the pleasure. Let it inspire you. Let it motivate you.

Recognize that life is a mixed bag. Too much sugar isn’t healthy for the body. We need a proper balance of emotions to feel complete. So shed a tear for the losses, share a smile for the gains and look to tomorrow for new opportunities to sore higher than you’ve ever flown. And use these moments of emptiness to remind you of where you’ve been and how amazing it will feel to be full again. Then when you’ve given yourself a chance to take it all in and come to terms with it, it’ll be time to take action and put it all behind you.

Take advantage of this time to reflect on the past year, both good and bad. A new year is right around the corner and anxious to take you on new adventures. Let’s be ready to go and see where we end up!

 

 

 

 

 

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God Rest Ye Stressful Gentlemen

Ahh the holidays! Anyone who watches television or spends time on Facebook knows it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Everyone is so happy because it’s a time when life is pretty much perfect. We’re baking and shopping and wrapping and drinking and celebrating and worshiping. Families are in complete harmony, everyone has everything they could ever want and we’re all so gosh darn giddy we can’t help but break into a chorus of Jingle Bells every ten minutes.

And then there’s reality.

It’s about stress people! Most people I’ve talked to this holiday season seem to be way behind on just about everything. Perhaps it was the late Thanksgiving this year. But more than one friend has told me that they’re behind on Christmas cards, their house is half decorated, and they can’t find their keys. (OK, that last one was me).images-3

Let’s face it, the truth is the holidays can be incredibly stressful. Our cash flow hasn’t increased, yet our debit cards are getting dinged every fifteen seconds. We’re inundated every morning by another 83 e-mails from stores offering us 85% off and free shipping on orders over $100.00. There’s the traveling, shopping, and visiting. People seem abnormally judgmental as well, which seems contrary to what the whole Christmas thing is about, but hey, that’s just me.

The kids are out of school so there’s often childcare stress and if you’re divorced it means in most cases spreading yourself even thinner or having to be away from the kids. Depending on your relationship with your ex, you may be experiencing added anxiety attempting to schedule time with the kids and working through what can be one of the most frustrating aspects of a divorce, while at the same time trying to ensure the kids have a wonderful holiday. Regardless of the state of your divorce, chances are you’re also feeling an ounce or two of guilt for creating added stress for the kids as they get bounced around from home to home.

The holidays are also a time when people miss loved ones who aren’t around to celebrate with. We forget how many people are either separated due to military service, work, divorce or death. If you’re human, there’s a very good chance you fall into one of those categories and are missing someone this holiday season. As my readers know, this aspect of the holidays is hitting close to home this year and its affect is unmistakable. It can really put your holiday season into a tailspin and is a great cause of depression during this time of year.

And yet we move forward, faced with a choice of succumbing to the stresses that the holidays bring, or focusing our attention on bringing cheer to those around us. The reality is that the holidays aren’t unlike any
images-2other time of the year. There’s good and there’s bad. And that which we choose to focus on is really up to us. It’s easy during down time to focus on the negatives and the hardships. To feel sorry for ourselves. To stress about bills, schedules, family, traveling and being alone. But don’t we do that enough during the other 364 days a year?

My wish for you this year is that you can find joy in the season. To see through the clutter and allow the spirit of the holidays into your heart. To rise above and combat every argument with a smile and a cookie. I guarantee you that no matter how bad your world is, the guy across the street is struggling just as much if not more. Let’s face it, we all have our crosses to bare. That’s one aspect of life we really have no control over. And I’ve seen people dragging crosses ten times bigger than mine. Some things just are what they are and it’s up to us to pull up our big girl panties and keep moving forward. Otherwise we trip on em, and then we just look stupid. Let’s just be honest and say it; for many the holidays suck. So let’s all band together and have a sucky holiday together. Maybe in doing so we’ll discover a spirit we hadn’t anticipated.

I believe the holidays are a chance to let people know that they’re not alone. That someone on this earth may be hurting too for the exact same reason. It’s not easy though. It means shrugging off our own hardships and opening our hearts to another who may be hurting as well. Sometimes it’s something as simple as a smile, a friendly greeting or just an acknowledgement that someone recognizes your pain. And so I say to you, you’re not alone and you’re going to be OK. So turn on some Christmas music, make some hot cocoa and do your best to focus on the positives. I’m pretty sure if you look hard enough you have a stocking full.

 

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Life Is An Icy Highway!

Traveling home from Buffalo with the kids a couple of weeks ago, we encountered a weather mass that was heading northeast from Texas. With it came an onslaught of snow and ice. As we headed south on I-71 and approached Cincinnati, the snow became increasingly heavy. The interstate eventually narrowed down to one lane going 25 mph as everyone followed a salt truck that was doing its best to keep the road open. During a span of an hour we witnessed no fewer than fifty cars, pickups and semi’s that had gone off the road and into the median or into a ditch. It was at that point that I had pretty much given up on attempting to make it all the way home to Nashville and began planning on stopping at Florence, KY for the night.

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Photo by my daughter Alex

Despite the storm, there were a surprising number of cars on the road and thanks to their treads maintaining a lane or two, we made our way through downtown Cincinnati. As we drove over the Ohio river, the snow suddenly let up and the roads appeared relatively clear. There was still a thin layer of snow on the roads, but there were three to four lanes open and things seemed to be picking up. With renewed faith I decided to forge forward while the kids slept.

There are moments in your life when you are thrust into a mode of intense focus and anxiety. During these moments our ability to maintain calm and reason are truly tested and we’re forced into a state of survival. As we approached the I-71 / I-75 split, we all encountered one such moment. Without any notice our Jeep began to slowly spin. As we became close to going horizontal in relation to the interstate, we began to slide over from the far right lane toward the center median eventually crossing all four lanes. The screams of the kids became muffled as I found myself immensely focused on the fact that I was slowly losing control of the Jeep. As I shifted down I recognized we were now traveling on a sheet of black ice which had been covered by a half inch layer of snow. Having lived a good deal of my life up north, I had a good sense of how to steer out of a spin in snow, but knew that when you’re on ice, nothing is guaranteed.

By the grace of God I was able to keep the Jeep from completely spinning out of control. I then slowly redirected us into a forward path and continued on doing my best to keep an eye out for other cars. Despite the rows of slushy yuck that divided the lanes, we were able to make our way back over toward the right hand lane. By the time I got to the third lane over, another car to our immediate left spun out of control and slid directly in front of us. As it glided by, I Our Jeep while visiting family near Rochester, NY.couldn’t help but think how much it resembled a figure skater eloquently making her way across the ice. It then careened off the right hand shoulder and into a field at which point I proclaimed, “Who’s up for a night in a hotel?!”

Once the kids got a hold of themselves and realized we were safe, we all breathed a collective sigh of relief and headed for the nearest Holiday Inn.

Life can sometimes feel like a highway with an occasional sheet of ice. We’re traveling on at a nice little pace when suddenly we lose control and start to spin out. Like most drivers, we panic and overcompensate for the misdirection which only make things worse. Not unlike the steps you take to regain control of your vehicle, the best course of action is to not panic and keep yourself focused on where you want to go, slowly regaining traction until you’re back on a solid path. No matter how hard we work to have everything neatly planned out, we’re all going to hit an ice patch from time to time that sends us into a state of anxiety and panic. This is true whether you’re divorced, married, a veteran of life or just striking out on your own. Rarely if ever is overreacting the right thing to do. Slow, steady adjustments can typically help you regain traction and get back on track. It’s not always easy when you’ve got kids screaming in the background (whether in a car or a restaurant), but after navigating through a few patches of ice, you start to get the hang of it.

Easier said than done I know, but the reality is that life was never meant to be a smooth ride start to finish. We need to learn how to navigate through the ice, rain, mud, gravel and washouts. And the only way to do that is to just keep moving forward with a strong sense of direction and an ability to not overcompensate when we start to spin out of control.

So whether on the road home or the road of life, may the road always rise to meet you and may you find safe travels ahead!

 

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Those Darn Elves!

A few years ago we were visited by our first Elf on a Shelf. He was fairly unassuming and would typically just find some quiet spot to sit and hang out at. Nothing earth shattering. Made for a relatively pleasant experience. Then a couple of years ago he invited a couple of friends to come along. Since that day they’ve managed to make themselves right at home becoming at times, somewhat bold and downright mischievous. We’ve managed to document some of the more, shall we say, “creative” moments as a means of providing you some things to “watch out” for (wink, wink).

One year they commandeered a Barbie Camper for their trip south.

One year they commandeered a Barbie Camper for their trip south.

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Most recently they held what appears to be a late night jam session in which they invited other toys to come join in and sing.

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This was the elves helping themselves to my Kahlua and caramel popcorn while enjoying what appears to be a marshmallow soak.

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One morning we awoke to find that they had taken a bag of flour and created a little snow field. A couple of them were caught making Flour Angels while the third one had helped himself to an elf sized “beverage.”

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This was the joy we found one morning after they TP’d our kitchen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One thing they did that was both festive and actually helpful, was the stringing of Christmas lights in our kitchen. We liked it so much we decided to leave them up year round.

One thing they did that was both festive and actually helpful, was the stringing of Christmas lights in our kitchen. We liked it so much we decided to leave them up year round.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So be sure to watch out. Stay prepared. You never know what these little guys (and gals) will get into next. They can keep you busy, but they do manage to bring some holiday cheer into the home.

Happy Holidays!

 

 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on December 16, 2013 in Divorce, holidays, Uncategorized

 

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In This Corner!

There are times when I get so mad I could just spit. And no matter how much I try to acknowledge my frustration with the situation (or person), no matter how much I tell myself to just take a breath; I remain remarkably agitated and irritable. Deep down I know that in another day or so. And I know I’ll be fine and see things more clearly in a few hours. But it’s still so hard to just brush it off. Especially when you feel you’re beingimages-1 misrepresented.

I think part of the problem when you’re divorced is that you don’t always have a couple of key ingredients necessary for diffusing the situation. First, in all likelihood, you’re reacting to either something the kids repeated that could very well be incorrect or misquoted and your ex is not there to defend themselves. Second, in not being a part of the other person’s day to day anymore, it’s impossible to fully comprehend the full extent of your ex was experiencing at the time. You’re likely basing your anger on past experiences and allowing it to amplify itself without the ability to compare apples to apples or have a completely clear view of the full context.

So, there you sit, talking to yourself, getting steamed and most assuredly making a mountain out of what is probably a mole hill. And even if it’s not, what’s the point of getting upset? Are you going to be able to change much? Prove a point maybe? Is it even worth the energy? Probably not.

Being divorced is going to be filled with moments where you feel trapped within the confines of a relationship
Unknownthat doesn’t exist. They are shadows of a relationship actually. And when you box with a shadow, you’ll never
be able to land a punch. You’ll just waste your energy chasing a floating figure. And honestly, our imaginations can REALLY embellish things when we get like this.

So take the gloves off. Find something positive to focus on and move on. Is it easy? Hell no. But it’s easier and healthier than trying to forge a battle that can’t be won. Regardless of who is right or wrong (and you may very well be wrong my friend), you will always see things differently and rarely if ever convince the other party that you’re right. You will remember the past differently, you will see each point differently, and your conscience will do everything it can to protect your ego at the other person’s expense. And let me tell you it just isn’t worth the effort. And seriously, if it were feasible to enlighten each other you probably wouldn’t be divorced in the first place.

So do yourself, your ex and your kids a favor. Let it go and put your energy toward something more productive, like mashing some potatoes for dinner.

Peace!

 

 
 

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