Taking Care of YourselfThe Lighter Side

Your Girlfriends Will Probably Outlive Your Partner!

July 17th, 2014 → 10:51 am @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

Here’s my latest for eHarmony: Girlfriends!

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“Reminder: your girlfriends will probably outlive your husband. So find good ones.”

My sides still hurt from laughing so hard! I just returned from spending a long weekend with five friends who I have known since elementary and middle school. The six of us met between 4th and 7th grades. We’ve known each other over 30 years. It’s been four years since we have all been together. That’s an entire college experience (I’ve told my kids that college is a four-year gig, and not to expect any sort of five-year plan, but I digress!). In spite of it being nearly 1500 days since we had last seen each other, we picked up right where we left off.

Between us, we have shared marriages and divorces, births and deaths, laughter and grief, celebrations and failures. If we go way back, we’ve shared electric blue eyeliner, curling irons, Sassoon jeans, and lilac prom dresses. We know each other. We accept each other. We love each other.

Even though we don’t experience the day-to-day with each other like we do with our friends who are in proximity to us, we seem to have a stronger bond. I sometimes wonder if many friendships aren’t born, and sustained, out of proximity and ease. Those are the friendships that don’t survive change. One person may move away, or the kids no longer play on the same sports teams, or the person switches jobs, and suddenly those people who were our closest friends, the ones we saw weekly, if not daily, who knew what we did day-in and day-out, are no longer a part of our lives. Real friendships endure all of those changes, and more!

The six of us weren’t always BFF’s. Back in elementary school, middle school, high school and college, we drifted in and out of each other’s lives, but we were always there for each other. In fact, even today, we don’t all talk regularly. Life gets busy. We are wives. We are mothers. We work. Life happens. We don’t know the daily inner workings of what is going on with each of us, but rather we get together every three or four years, and suddenly time and distance disappear in a nanosecond. We don’t need to know what happens in the day-to-day to understand where each other is coming from in her life, and that is what truly matters.

Last Saturday night, the firepot was lit, the wine was poured, and as we sat on the back porch talking, we realized that 5 of the 6 of us have already lost our fathers, yet all of our mothers are still alive. The experience we have had with our parents supports the claim that women tend to outlive men. It was a sobering thought.

At this point, we have known each other longer than we have known our husbands. Heck, these girlfriends outlasted my first husband, saw me through my divorce, were there as I started dating and married my second husband, and are still by my side. There is a good chance that we may outlive our husbands (as our moms have outlived our dads).

My point is this! Our boyfriends and our husbands are important, but so are our girlfriends! They both play a different role (in spite of so many people who say they are married to their ‘best friend’ – I get that, but it’s different! You know it is!). Yes, date, search for the perfect person to partner with in your life, perhaps even find a ‘best friend’ to marry, but don’t lose sight of the importance of your girlfriends in all of this. And men, you want your girlfriend or wife to have a good support team of girlfriends. Trust me! It’s an outlet you want to encourage!

I brought a photo to show the girls last weekend. It was of the 6 of us sitting on the back porch at my parent’s house. The year was 1984. We took another photo last weekend of the 6 of us sitting on my back porch. 2014! Thirty years later! I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if 30 years from now we are taking another photo sitting on someone’s back porch … or maybe it will be of us sitting in white rocking chairs on the front porch of the retirement home!

What do you think? Life is busy! Dating takes time! How do you cultivate and maintain your friendships?

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Taking Care of Yourself &The Lighter Side

Taking Care of Yourself

Living – and Laughing – Without Fear of the Future

June 16th, 2014 → 2:56 pm @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

My latest for eHarmony … Laughing Without Fear of the Future!

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fear of the unknown 300x284 Living    and Laughing    Without Fear of the Future

Proverbs 31:25 says the Godly woman “is clothed in strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future.”

I don’t know about you, but during the midst of my own divorce several years ago, there were many days, weeks, and months when I didn’t feel like I had the strength I needed to make it through. There were times when I felt my dignity was being put to the test. After all, I was “never” going to be divorced. And, having someone you love decide he no longer wants to be married to you can be a huge hit to your personal sense of dignity. I certainly wasn’t laughing without fear of the future because I had no idea what my future would hold. I was scared of the future. Suddenly the dreams and plans I had made for our family were completely discarded, and I had to create a new reality.

Nope. Looking back, I would say I was sorely lacking strength, dignity, and fearlessness.

Since that time, I have come to know this Bible verse. In fact, it’s one of those verses that I now lean on. It makes me smile! To remain faithful to God, to know that He does indeed have a plan, and to know that He doesn’t make mistakes, brings me incredible comfort. In fact, I actually have this verse hand-stamped onto a necklace that I frequently wear (as in almost every day!).

To believe that I am a Godly woman means I am clothed in strength and dignity! Feeling clothed in strength and dignity is pretty cool. It feels like a cloak of armor. Perhaps that is too medieval of a reference. Perhaps it’s more contemporary to say it feels like being snug and secure in your Spanx!

To believe that I am a Godly woman means that I am able to laugh without fear of the future. That feels amazing. Being able to laugh confidently at something which is unknown, simply because you know you will be able to figure it out, is pretty cool. This isn’t nervous laughter. It’s not a slight chuckle as you look around to see if everyone else got the joke and you’re trying not to let on that you didn’t get it. This kind of laughter is real. It’s contagious. It’s addicting! This is the kind of laughter that says, “I am confident.” Bring. It. On.

Many of the people I meet who are going through their own divorce story are exactly where I was many years ago. They don’t feel strong. They don’t feel as if they have their dignity. They certainly aren’t laughing without fear, but rather are scared and crying because their lives are now one big unknown mass of change and confusion.

I try not to be too Pollyanna’ish and tritely tell them, “It will get better.” It will, but no one wants to hear that, especially in the midst of their drama. Instead, I try to inspire them to take the high road and keep their head up with their eyes focused on the future.  As time passes, their strength is restored, their dignity returns, and they do learn to laugh without fear of their future. Time and time again, I have seen men and women discover a whole new life waiting for them which they would never have known existed had it not been for the divorce. New homes. New careers. New hobbies. New relationships. I’m a testament to that. I’ve discovered new careers, new hobbies and new relationships since my own divorce! It’s been a learning experience, and a load of fun, often leaving me reflecting that “this is how it’s supposed to be!”

One of my greatest joys is when these same men and women circle back to me years later and are full of strength and dignity, and fear is not in the house! Instead, they are filled with joy and laughter because the future they were once scared of is turning out not to be so bad after all!

What about you? Are you cloaked in strength and dignity, and laughing without fear of the future? What’s holding you back?

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Taking Care of Yourself

Taking Care of YourselfWomen's Issues

Getting Through my Own Divorce!

May 19th, 2014 → 12:39 pm @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

My latest for Huff Post — a fun look at how I survived my own divorce!!

Surviving my Own Divorce

The Morale-Boosting Saying I Kept Telling Myself During My Divorce

If there’s ever a time you need a little distraction in your life, it’s during the divorce process. That’s why we launched our Divorce Care Package series. With each post, we’ll show you what things — books, movies, recipes — helped others relieve stress in the midst of divorce, in the hopes that a few of their picks will serve you well, too. Want to share what got you through your divorce? Email us at divorce@huffingtonpost.com or tweet @HuffPost Divorce

Writer Monique Honaman did what we’d all like to do during divorce: She took the high road with her ex and not only survived the separation, but came out stronger because of it. Below, Honaman, the author of The High Road Has Less Traffic: Honest Advice On The Path Through Love And Divorce, shares what got her through the hardest days of her split and tells us about the sweet way she pays it forward to other women experiencing divorce today.

  • The Saying
    ReciteThis
    “I remember always telling myself: ‘I can’t control what happens to me; I can only control how I react to it.’ For me, that meant controlling how I handled being a role model for my kids in terms of how to get through this successfully. I soon coined my own phrase that I relied on, and still use as my life mantra: ‘Live purposefully. Think rightly. Serve generously. Forgive quickly.’ There is no doubt in my mind that forgiveness is the key to surviving divorce.”
  • The Pay-It-Forward Move
    babi/Flickr
    “I didn’t drink coffee prior to my divorce. I can’t say that now. For some reason, I became addicted to iced vanilla lattes from Starbucks during my divorce. I think there were days my body needed the caffeine and one thing led to another. Some habits are hard to break! As a result, I’m now carry the Starbucks Gold card. I am frequently asked to meet with women who are going through divorce to lend a listening ear, provide advice and give input and my signature pay-it-forward move is to meet them at Starbucks and treat them to a cup of coffee. It’s $5 well-spent to give someone the opportunity to sit and vent, laugh, cry, hope, bitch and moan while enjoying a cup of coffee together.”
  • The Splurge
    Monique Honaman
    “I wanted something I could wear around my neck and close to my heart that would serve as a reminder of what was important to me. I worked with a friend, Michelle Rhodes, who is an incredibly talented jewelry designer to make a necklace. It has three sterling silver stamped tags which say patience, faith and strength — the three things I needed most during my divorce. On one side, it has a small silver disc that says Philippians 4:13 (that’s the Bible verse that says, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’). It also has a peridot charm which is the birthstone for both of my children — that served as a reminder of my desire to be a role model for them. I wore that thing daily, and depending on what was going on, I would hold onto one of the various charms. I had friends tease me that ‘strength’ or ‘patience’ were going to be rubbed off. Strange as it sounds, that necklace really served as a talisman to get me through my divorce successfully. It brought incredible comfort.”
  • The Songs
    “I’m not sure too many women can say they survived their divorce without dancing and singing to Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive’ at some point. I remember my moment. I was celebrating a friend’s 40th birthday party, and the DJ started playing this song. I was on the dance floor in a nano-second dancing and singing and just releasing all of my stress. I knew then that I would survive no matter how tumultuous this divorce was — and let me tell you, this was a particularly bad day in the scheme of things, so the timing was perfect! I also got a kick out of jamming to Pink’s ‘So What.’ Some lyrics just seemed too perfect: I guess I just lost my husband / I don’t know where he went [Chorus:] So, so what / I’m still a rock star / I got my rock moves / And I don’t need you”
  • The Distractions
    Kevin Wells via Getty Images
    “I went for some long walks during my divorce. Something about getting outside in nature, and just walking, burning off steam, getting some fresh air, and getting away from it all seemed to work for me. I also wouldn’t have gotten through my divorce without my girlfriends who rallied around me big time. Some knew to let me cry, some knew to make me laugh, some knew to send me cards, some knew to take me out. Each one was amazing in her own wonderful way.”
  • The Book
    Monique Honaman
    “I started writing my own book. Talk about cathartic! It was incredible to put down in words all that I was going through. What I learned is that I love to write and I love helping others survive divorce through my writing. The result has been two published books, The High Road Has Less Traffic: Honest Advice On The Path Through Love And Divorce and The High Road Has Less Traffic… And A Better View! I tell people that they have to remain open to what they learn about themselves as they go through divorce. I never intended to become an author, but discovered a gift and a love for writing that I wouldn’t have realized if my divorce hadn’t happened.”
  • The Sign
    “I had a friend give me a framed sign during the midst of my divorce that says, ‘Let Go and Let God.’ I put it in my kitchen where I would see it daily. It’s still there! What a great reminder to let go of the little things in life (or even those big things that we just can’t control) and have faith that everything will turn out the way it is supposed to.”
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Taking Care of Yourself &Women's Issues

Dating, Romance, SexTaking Care of Yourself

What is it Like to Be on the Other Side of Me?

May 19th, 2014 → 12:37 pm @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

My latest for the Divorce Support Center! Other Side of Me

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“In nearly every religion I am aware of, there is a variation of the golden rule. And even for the non-religious, it is a tenet of people who believe in humanistic principles.” ~ Hillary Clinton

I was on a flight last week that was delayed due to weather. This led to our circling over Atlanta for more than an hour. Of course, we started to run low on fuel (typical summer afternoon flying into Atlanta.) We were diverted to Birmingham, Alabama to refuel then flew back to Atlanta, ultimately arriving 4 ½ hours late. To add insult to injury, once we landed, we had to sit on the runway for 30 minutes before we were able to get a gate to deplane.

As you can imagine, tension began to run high and some of the passengers got a bit rude and inconsiderate (to put it mildly.) Had these passengers asked themselves, “What is it like to be on the other side of me right now?,” I’m not sure they would have liked the answer.

The following day, I had a meeting scheduled with someone of whom I had never met before. He had reached out to me asking if I would spend some time with him to share ideas on career next steps. I agreed to meet with him and fit him into an already tight schedule. I hustled to get things done that morning (remember, I hadn’t even gotten home until 1:30AM due to my travel delays), drove the 43 minutes to where we had agreed to meet and, you guessed it, he didn’t show up. I checked my email and he had sent me a message 11 minutes prior to when we were supposed to meet saying he couldn’t make it. Seriously? No more advance notice than that? Had he asked himself, “What is it like to be on the other side of me right now?,” I’m not sure he would have liked the answer.

Later that afternoon, I was speaking with a woman in Denver. She is divorced and has been dating a guy for the past 15 months. Interestingly, she and her ex (who also has a steady girlfriend) are beginning to think they still have feelings for each other and they are starting to “date” again. Both are now dating each other (again) and their new partners (who, of course, don’t know about this) simultaneously. If they ask themselves, “What is it like to be on the other side of me right now?,” I’m not sure they would really like the answer.

Late last year, one of the ministers at our church presented a message entitled,  ”What it’s like to be on the other side of me?” It was a great message, and it really made you think about your behavior and actions. Have you ever asked yourself, “What is it like to be on the other side of me?” Have you ever taken the time to really think about how others see you, perceive you, and experience you?  Would you want to be waiting on you in a restaurant?

Would you want to be ringing up your sale at a store?

Would you want to be your friend?

Would you want to be the flight attendant or gate agent assisting you?

Would you want to be your own customer?

Would you want to be dating you?

Would you want to be married to you?

Why or why not?

We are frequently able to rationalize our own behavior and come up with really great excuses for why we act certain ways or do certain things. BUT, if we are really (really) honest with ourselves and look at things through the lens of the person across from us, I think we often find those excuses and rationalizations backfire. We know that we wouldn’t want to be treated that way. This isn’t a new concept at all! While world religions tend to differ greatly in their beliefs and practices, they all tend to share a common idea around “doing unto others what you would like them to do to you.” This “Golden Rule” can be found in Christianity, Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, to name but a few. It’s a staple amongst the world’s greatest philosophical minds. It’s a basic tenet of human behavior.

What about you? Who are you putting out there? What have you learned about yourself throughout the process of divorce? Do you like the road you have taken, or are you unhappy with who you have become? Do you get a different answer if you ask yourself, “What is it like to be on the other side of me?” If your answer isn’t one that makes you feel good or makes you proud, you may want to rethink how you are coming across, how you are presenting yourself, and how you are treating others. At the end of the day, our goal should be to be able to look in the mirror at that person on the other side of me and like who you see! Smile!

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Dating, Romance, Sex &Taking Care of Yourself

Taking Care of YourselfWomen's Issues

Braver Than You Believe

April 17th, 2014 → 5:02 pm @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

Brave! – Here’s my latest article for eHarmony … April 2014.

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Sometimes life knocks you on your a$$ … get up, get up, get up!!! Happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them.”  Steve Marabolihow to be brave 300x199 Braver than You Believe!

I just read a book that I have to write about. In fact, I think every single woman should read it. If you are a widow, it’s for you. If you have been through a divorce, it’s for you. If you have friends who are widowed or divorced, it’s for you.  Anyone who has experienced a “loss” will be able to relate to this book and will get lost in the stories.  Do I sound cliché if I say, “I laughed, I cried…?”

Written by Sue Mangum, “Braver Than You Believe: True Stories of Losing Love and Finding Self” is the story of six newly single moms who write about the worst event in their lives. Three of the six women found themselves widowed, and the other three found themselves confronting divorce. None of this was part of anyone’s “plan” for how their lives would play out, but as we all know, our “plan” often fails and we have to come up with contingency plans pretty quickly.

There are several things I loved about this book.

One, it wasn’t just six sad and tragic stories of six different women. The substance of the book comes from a year’s worth of emails that were exchanged amongst the women as they looked to create a safe space in which to grieve. They called themselves, “Single Moms After Loss: Talking Advising Healing Laughing Crying” or SMAL TAHLC (small talk!) for short. Nothing was off limits – which led to many of the tears that I shed, and the laughter that I shared – as I related to things with which they were dealing. The stories are crafted together in a brilliant roller-coaster of a ride.

Two, I loved how I nodded my head in agreement over and over as I read the book. I truly felt like I was a part of the group, or sitting around chatting over coffee with these women. I haven’t been widowed, but I have been divorced. I remember things I felt and thought during my divorce. To read these same issues being addressed by these women provided honor and validity to these emotions. We aren’t alone in going through life’s trials and tribulations. Others have forged a path. We can learn from each other. There’s comfort in knowing you aren’t alone, and you gain strength from seeing others persevere, survive, and thrive. It gives you hope and faith to see others travel through such dark times and come out alive and vibrant.

Three, I loved how no subject was off limits. These women address the questions that I know went through my mind, and so many other women with whom I speak. Things like: “Will I ever have sex again? (heck, I even have a whole chapter in my first book about this one!), “I thought I was religious, but is there really a God?,” “When should I tell my children that I’m dating?,” and “Wow…I’m happy…is that allowed?”

Aren’t all of our lives a soap opera? It was fascinating to gain an inside perspective in so many areas … often times like slowing down to watch the car wreck on the side of the road! I learned new things too. The divorced women shared “insights” as the widowed women started to date … often times “trusting” men who were still married, but who assured them that it was “just a technicality.” As we learned, that’s not always the case! Then there were the well-meaning friends, who just didn’t get how insensitive they were being! These were the women who were still married (and hadn’t endured the grief of losing a spouse to death or divorce) who said things like, “You are so lucky you get to do what you want when you want and don’t have to report back to anyone,” or “You are so lucky that you get ‘free’ time whenever your ex has the kids … what I wouldn’t give for some time alone!” I know I heard things like that when I got divorced.

If you are looking for a quick read, and an inspiring and relatable story, this book is for you. I bonded with the women in the pages of this book, and loved it when each ultimately accepted her new reality, and in several cases, discovered what Life 2.0 had in store for them. Yes, happiness is allowed, and you will find it again!

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Taking Care of Yourself &Women's Issues

Taking Care of YourselfWomen's Issues

Whose Spark Have You Rekindled?

February 20th, 2014 → 7:31 pm @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

My latest for eHarmony:

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” -Albert Schweitzer

If ever I have had my own light go out, it was during my divorce. It was completely snuffed out and I was left in the dark. It was very dark. Lonely. Sad. But certain people entered my life and gave me a spark that served to rekindle my light, and before I knew it, my light was back at full power … and then some.

I love the quote I started with by Albert Schweitzer because it speaks to being grateful to those who have helped to relight our flames. Our own light can go out for so many different reasons. It doesn’t have to be from divorce. It can be through death of a loved one. Dealing with a sick parent or child. Losing a job. Heck, even just getting sucked into the winter doldrums and feeling like we have nothing to look forward to can make our light start to flicker.

Have you ever stopped to think about those people for whom you are grateful because they have helped to rekindle your flame? My list was (and still is) huge! To me, there are three categories of these people!

One, there are the people who were there before, during and after whatever crisis was serving to dim my light. These are the people we typically think of and turn to when life gets tough. My mom. My best friends who I see all the time. My best friends who live across the country and whom I only see every few years. These are the people who have truly “done life” with you! They know all the back-stories; they know all the relationships; they know all the underlying soft spots, pet peeves, and weak points … and they love you unconditionally in spite of it all.

Then there are the people who enter your life at a certain point and intersect with you for a specific period in time and then leave again. Have you ever wondered what purpose they play? Were they only supposed to play a short, but important, role in helping you to rekindle your flame? These people really don’t know much about you. They don’t necessarily know the “real” you or the “whole” you, but they are able to pierce through all that and they seem to know what to say and when to say it! Perhaps they are more bold and honest with us because we don’t have a history, and likely don’t have a future. There is less at risk. We love their honesty and often times they are the ones who are able to get us jump started!

Lastly, there are those people who enter your life at the time of crisis, make such an impact, and rekindle such a huge light for you that you know they will forever remain a fixture in your life. I tend to think that friendships which are forged during times of great change and stress are stronger. I think that’s why I feel like I am able to pick right back up with friends from middle school and high school, often times more quickly than I am with contemporary friends where the friendship was forged as adults. As a teen, you go through so much together. It builds a bond. I think the same goes for contemporary friends who go through a life-changing experience with you. It’s no longer building a friendship over bunco and dinner out with the spouses every other month, but rather building a friendship over an affair which leads to divorce, or over the sudden illness and death of a parent. This is real stuff – this is life done together – not just idle chatter about “The Bachelor” or Justin Bieber’s latest antics.

As I think back over the people who helped me to rekindle my light, I am incredibly grateful. The “old” friend who made sure she was at my side during pivotal points in my separation when she knew the shock of it all would be overwhelming. The “period-in-time” friend who had herself gone through a divorce and who helped me through the process, then left my life.  My “new” friend who on the first day we met had me in stitches with her sarcasm and her prediction for what my future would hold, and to this day remains a dear friend. I am grateful for each of them.

It is important to be intentionally grateful for the people in your life who have helped to rekindle your flame.

More important, however, is your intention to be sure that you are lighting other people’s flames yourself. Do you try to be that person who helps to rekindle other’s flames when their brightness and luminosity are starting to fade? Do you lend a listening ear, send the sweet card, offer the joke to make them laugh, buy them a coffee, watch their kids for a few hours, go for a walk with them, or simply find some other way spark their light? Think about it: whose spark have you rekindled lately?

Think of it this way: “When you find yourself in the position to help someone, be happy and feel blessed because God is answering that person’s prayer through you. Remember: Our purpose on earth is not to get lost in the dark but to be a light to others, so that they may find way through us.”

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Blogtalk &Taking Care of Yourself &Women's Issues

Taking Care of YourselfWomen's Issues

Luv Ya! Mean it!

February 20th, 2014 → 7:30 pm @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

My latest for eHarmony:

Phew! It’s over! We enjoyed, survived or merely observed another Valentine’s Day. This isn’t going to be another post about the significance (or the dread!) of the day. We all know that for some people, this day brings chocolate, roses, and sappy cards. For others, this day brings a sense of loss as we watch others celebrate their love when perhaps we don’t currently have our own Valentine with whom to celebrate. For others, it’s just another day with no significant meaning.

I fall into the last category. I’m not a big Valentine’s person. Never have been. When I was married, it was never a big celebration for us. When I divorced, it was certainly never a big deal for me. Now, I’ve remarried, and it still isn’t a big deal. I’ve always said, I would rather feel your love for me every day of the year through your words, your thoughts and your actions, than have you give me chocolate or roses on one particular day of the year because that is what “society” dictates.

LOVE is what I believe Valentine’s Day is all about. It’s about love – not just romantic love, but rather friendship and family love.

Remember when we were kids and we had to make sure that we brought a Valentine’s Day card for every single kid in our class? My kids still had to do that when they were in elementary school. In fact, the teachers would send home a class list so that no one was forgotten. No child was “left behind!” Here’s a thought … if Valentine’s Day is just about romantic love then why would we teach our kids that we are to romantically love more than one person as a time? Why we would labor over those shoeboxes, wrap them in red and pink construction paper, and bring little Valentine’s Day cards and candy to every kid in the class!?! Talk about a mixed message! No, instead, we encourage our kids to show love to everyone in their lives (or at least their classrooms). I love that and wish I had always been that open with my love.

I used to be very protective of my “love.” Telling someone I loved them was reserved for my mom and dad, my nana, my husband, and my kids. I didn’t freely share “I love yous” with others who were important in my life. I’m not sure when that changed … perhaps when I went through my divorce and realized how important love – not just romantic love – but supportive friendship and family love can be. I began sharing “I love yous” more freely, and it feels good. I began telling my friends how much I love them. I began telling my new extended family how much I love them. And, as we learn in the Bible, I do my best to love those who have wronged me.

When was the last time you told a friend that you loved him or her? Try it! You may laugh when you say it! Or you may say it more casually. “Luv ya” says the same thing but conveys a different meaning than “I. Love. You.” It’s like the Bud Light commercial from several years ago … “I love ya man!”

Next time you go to hang up the phone with a friend try this – as you are starting your goodbye, simply say, “love ya, mean it!” See what happens! I’ll be willing to bet you get a “love you” right back! Goodness knows this world needs more love being shared. We shouldn’t be treating love like a precious commodity that needs to be conserved and doled out sparingly. Love feels good! Not just Valentine’s Day love. Not just romantic love. But that all-encompassing feel-good love that comes from people who are important to you in all areas of life.

Did you try it? Did you get the reaction you expected?

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Blogtalk &Taking Care of Yourself &Women's Issues

Danger Zone!Taking Care of Yourself

I Just Want to Know Why!

August 14th, 2013 → 8:31 am @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

Here’s my latest published in LA Family! August 13, 2013 … I Want to Know Why!

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“There’s more to getting to where you’re going then just knowing there’s a road.”

~ Joan Lowery Nixon, In the Face of Danger

I met a woman the other day whose husband recently told her that he wants a divorce. She feels as if the carpet has been pulled out from under her, and she’s still trying to keep it all together for the sake of her kids, yet she’s fearful, angry, scared, and lonely.  I remember that period and I hated it. My heart breaks for her.

We talked for a couple of hours. As you can imagine, it was a circular discussion — two steps forward, one step backward, as she tried to figure out proactively what she needed to do next, yet simultaneously becoming overwhelmed by the enormity of it all and the realization that her marriage was indeed over.

“I just want to know why.” was the one statement she kept repeating over and over. “I just want to know why he left … I just want to know what happened … I just want to know what went wrong …I just want to know when he made up his mind that he was leaving.”

I remember being in that same place of wanting answer for questions that really didn’t have concrete answers.  This isn’t as simple as “Why was the baseball game canceled? Because it was storming outside,” or “Why are we not going on our family vacation? Because we spent our vacation fund putting an addition on the house.” Those questions have answers. You may not like the answers, but they are answers nonetheless.

There isn’t always such a clear answer to the “I just want to know why our marriage is over” question, and I think frequently we focus too much on trying to find that answer. We get sucked into finding an answer to that question. This woman was spending so much time searching for answers to “why” that she wasn’t moving forward with “now what.” She was at an absolute standstill.  At the end of the day, the “why” was that her husband was having an affair and wanted to spend the rest of his life with the other woman, but that didn’t satisfy her need to know “why” at deeper levels. Her “whys” focused more on “why did this start, why did he keep seeing her, why did he love her more, why did he lose interest in their marriage …” and on and on.

Would it be great to have answers to all these open questions when we find ourselves faced with a marriage that is ending and a pending divorce? Yes, probably! It’s always nice to be able to tie things up in a neat little bow and have everything accounted for. Is it realistic? Absolutely not! Is it dangerous to focus on getting these answers? Most likely, yes!

I asked this woman whether anything would really change if she knew the answers to her multiple questions of “I just want to know why?” Would anything truly change if her husband were able to answer these questions? Would it make her feel better? Would it soothe the hurt that she was feeling? Or, would it simply exacerbate the situation? Would she become obsessed with finding the antidote to his reasoning? Would she lay awake rehashing what she could have / would have / should have done differently?

Sometimes we really don’t need to have the answers to every question. Sometimes we just need to move forward with faith that things will get better, and we need to spend our energy focusing on moving things forward with positive momentum. Sometimes we need to find peace in our heart to accept that we aren’t always going to understand why things happen.

I pray that this woman finds the peace to let go of her search for answers as to “why” her marriage ended. Note, this is different from asking questions to learn, improve and grow from this experience. This is different from not finding your own accountability in the process of divorce (see my prior HopeAfterDivorce.com post Accountability). This is about not becoming stuck in the search for answers to unanswerable questions to the detriment of moving forward positively.  This takes time; trust me, I get that. It’s all part of the healing process. But, at some point we need to stop asking 12 levels of “why,” stop focusing on the “if only” and the “what if’,” and instead begin to focus on our own healing.

What about you? Are you stuck in the “why” zone? Are you asking questions that have no real, tangible answers? Are you at a standstill because you keep telling yourself that once you find these answers then you will be ready to move forward? Do you really believe that?

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Danger Zone! &Taking Care of Yourself

Taking Care of Yourself

Is It Possible to be “TOO Nice?”

July 16th, 2013 → 8:21 am @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

Here’s my latest post for DivorcedMoms.com … Too Nice?

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“Being nice to someone you have an issue with doesn’t mean you are fake … it means someone taught you how to be polite.” ~ author unknown

And,

“Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not.”  ~Samuel Johnson

Is anyone dealing with the challenges of co-parenting who is told by their family or friends that they are “too nice” to the other parent/former spouse? Since when was being nice considered a negative trait? And why do people think that being unfriendly is a more productive strategy?

This is interesting to me. Sure there are hurt feelings in a divorce. That’s probably a huge understatement. In many cases, especially those involving adultery, one party typically feels incredibly violated and dishonored. It’s natural to not want to “be nice” to individuals who are disrespectful to us. And therein lies the conundrum. Since we have children together, I am going to be dealing with my ex- for the rest of my life and being mean is not going to accomplish anything positive at all.

Acting the opposite of “nice” means acting “mean.” Why in the world would I want my young kids to see me acting mean to their dad. Kids can be so black and white in their thinking.  They quickly categorize things – good/bad, fun/boring, nice/mean. They don’t have the maturity to understand that some people may feel that “mean” is merited. They simply see one parent being mean to the other, and that does nothing but create guilt and confusion.

I don’t want my kids to see “mean,” and frankly “mean” is much less productive than “nice.” What’s the saying? Something like, “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”  Being “mean” has a direct impact on the future ability of my ex- and I to make decisions and communicate about the best interests of our children.  If all of our conversations are tainted with hatred, bitterness, and sarcasm, how are we going to effectively communicate about the people who are most important to us, namely, our children? Frankly, it’s stressful to be mean and condescending, and who really has the time for that?

I tell my well-meaning friends who tell me that I’m being “too nice” that being nice doesn’t mean you become a doormat and let people walk all over you. It doesn’t mean that you become a puppet at the whim of the other person. It doesn’t mean they get to take advantage of you.  It does mean that regardless of what the other person has said or done, or what he will say or do moving forward, that I am going to respond with respect.  If some people define that as being “too nice,” then so-be-it.

At the end of the day, I think it all comes down to picking your battles.  There are times when I need to be more assertive, or more emphatic to make a point, and when I do need to go there, it’s received with more acknowledgment because every piece of communication hasn’t been rooted in “meanness.” But I’m a firm believer in the fact that even assertive and emphatic communication can still be delivered respectfully.
I’ll continue to take being “too nice” over being “too mean” as a compliment. More importantly, I’ll role-model an assertive and respectful “too nice” for my kids any day of the week.

What do you think? Have you ever been told you were “too nice?” Do you agree that “too nice” is not equivalent to “door matt?”

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Taking Care of Yourself

Taking Care of Yourself

Stop Worrying About What Other People Will Think

July 15th, 2013 → 2:30 pm @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

Here’s my latest blog post for eHarmony: What Other People Will Think

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Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” ~ Steve Jobs

In my last post (Should You Follow Your Head or Your Heart), I talked about my friend who was falling in love with a guy she only met three months ago. Things were getting serious pretty quickly, and she felt she was walking a tight rope between following her heart (which was telling her to jump in with both feet and surrender to her emotions) and her head (which was telling her that she hasn’t known him long enough to be feeling this way).

I think my friend knew that following her heart, while not leaving her head behind, was the right answer for her situation. I think she intuitively knew that this was the right decision for her. She should move forward. She knew it was right.

But … what followed was, in my opinion, the real crux of the issue. She asked me, “But what will people think?” My response, “Who cares!?”

She was very worried about what other people might say about how quickly she was moving with this guy. Well-intentioned friends might make assumptions. People who use their head more than their heart might impose a superficial timeline of how long you should date someone before taking it to the next level. Envious friends might not be as supportive or might try to steal her joy. My friend was being cautious about introducing her “boyfriend” to others for fear of the judgments they might make about her. Ridiculous? Yes! But, also more common than we like to believe.

Why do we let what other people might think impact the decisions we make? Why should my friend care what the general masses think? Why should she be worried about what people might be saying behind her back?

I saw this recently with another friend as well. She is dating a guy and is starting to become more interested in him, but she doesn’t like how he dresses. He bought some new shoes, most likely in an attempt to please her as she is pretty fashion conscious, but “he wore them with the wrong pants.” She was really bothered by this. “So what?!,” I asked, “If he’s this great guy who is really kind, and sincere, and treats you well, who cares if he wore the wrong pants with his new shoes?” “Well,” she replied, “What will my friends think?” Again, who cares!?

I think Steve Jobs nailed it in the quote above: “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

Why do we worry more about what other people will think about us, or the relationships we are in? Why don’t we focus more on what we think about our relationships and how we are being treated? We need to listen to our inner voice more and follow our intuition. We shouldn’t be doing things like entering into relationships for the approval of others. We should be doing things like entering into relationships for our own approval (and love, and joy, and all that good stuff).

What about the flip side? Are you the friend who judges and tries to impose your beliefs and ideals on someone else, or do you support them in following their heart (as long as they are bringing their head along with them)? Do you try to impose your opinion so loudly that you are successful in drowning out their inner voice?

I had to deal with some of this same stuff when I started dating my boyfriend (now husband) several years ago. Some people thought we were moving too quickly. Others thought it was “too good to be true” and cautioned me about pending disaster. Even I had some consternation about telling people how serious our relationship was becoming for fear of what they might think and say.

But, my heart knew it was right. My intuition told me to go for it. My head found nothing to reject. I had to tell certain friends that I appreciated their concern because I knew it came from a place of love, but then I also had to ask them to stop trying to “steal my joy!” That worked!

What about you? Do you worry more about what other people will think, or do you follow your own intuition? Are you a friend who is supportive or who steals others’ joy?

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Taking Care of Yourself