Taking Care of YourselfWomen's Issues

Celebrating Your Independence Day!

July 5th, 2017 → 10:59 am @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

My latest for eHarmony… Celebrating Your Independence Day

independence day dating tips

She needed a hero so she decided to become one.”

The importance of our Independence Day is that it marks the birth of the United States of America. Remember your US history? The people living in the colonies were tired of living under British domination. They didn’t want to follow the orders from the King anymore. To go against the King was a very dangerous proposition. They were risking their livelihoods and their lives, but they decided it was worth the risk to win the freedom to govern themselves. They wanted to be free; they wanted to make their own decisions; and they asserted their independence. No sacrifice; no victory.

As we prepare to celebrate our nation’s Independence Day, I am struck by the fact that I have several friends who are in the process of asserting their own independence as well.

I have four girlfriends right now who are each going through a divorce. In each instance, these friends have tried for years to make their marriages successful, but ultimately, and for a variety of reasons, they are unable to do so. It’s been a series of failures and fiascos. There have been trials and tribulations. It’s no longer red, white and blue, but rather red, white and boo-hoo! The sparklers are no longer sparking!

The fireworks are gone!

Their stories needed a hero.

And each of these friends decided to become her own hero.

Each of these women has taken her destiny into her own hands, and I applaud her for that. I am not one to support divorce willy-nilly. I believe in the covenant of marriage. I also believe that there comes a point when you have tried and tried to make a marriage work, unsuccessfully, and it becomes in the best interest of all involved (the husband, the wife, and the children) to declare your independence and move on. It’s tough. My friends are sad at the prospect of ending their marriages which started with so much hope. They are fearful for what impact this will have on their children. They are scared at the idea of having to start over financially.

But, beyond those emotions, my friends are also hopeful. They are brave and strong and independent enough to know that this is something that they need to do. Just like the colonists back in 1776, they realize that the upside outweighs the downside. They know their future is as bright as a July sky during the grand finale of the fireworks display!

On this Fourth of July, I celebrate these 4 friends, and all of the other people who chose to become the heroes in their own stories. Like the colonists, you are choosing to assert your independence. You are indeed a hero. Happy Independence Day!

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Taking Care of Yourself &Women's Issues

The Lighter SideWomen's Issues

Collecting Memories, Not Things

October 10th, 2016 → 9:55 am @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

I just returned from a wonderful weekend away. My good friend K’s mom passed away recently after a hard-fought battle against cancer. Another friend, A, and I flew down to Florida to help K clean out her mom’s house and prepare for it to be sold. Now you are likely re-reading my first sentence and wondering what was so “wonderful” about that weekend.

It’s emotional to “clean out” someone’s life and decide what is worth keeping, or not. It’s heart-wrenching to realize that boxes of photos that were someone else’s memories don’t necessarily mean as much to those left behind. It’s difficult to make a determination in a matter of minutes about whether an item is worth donating to the thrift shop when you know the decision to purchase that item was well-thought out back in it’s day.

Thankfully, K’s mom was neat and organized and her house reflected that same semblance of order. There was no clutter. There weren’t stacks of things everywhere, but nonetheless, there was still a tremendous amount of stuff to go through. Every item in each bedroom closet, bathroom cabinet, linen closet, curio cabinet, dining room hutch, and kitchen drawer sat waiting to be reviewed … waiting for it’s future to be decided. Keep. Donate. Toss.

Our friend K handled this like the champ she is. I learned so much from watching her go through this. I am undoubtedly more prepared for the day when I inevitably find myself having to do the same thing after my mom passes away. K showed emotion, and love, and connection and laughter. Lots of laughter! And her mom would have loved that.

I left with several realizations that I wanted to share with you.

Collections: So many of us love to collect things, and it’s fun as you seek, find, and gather, but remember, what you collect is likely only a turn-on to you (unless it’s a collection of very valuable things, like old gold coins, which can ultimately be sold). Collecting chocolate molds was fun and games for years until someone had to figure out what to do with 92 of them. I realized that my collection of elephants serves no meaning. I’ve had fun buying them on various trips, but it’s really the trips that have been so memorable – not having another wood-carved elephant sitting on a display shelf. It’s time to review which ones are meaningful and which ones are simply taking up space.

Obsessions: Different than collections, obsessions are things that we end up having more than an average amount of for some unknown reason. For K’s mom, there appeared to have been an obsession with placemats. I think we stopped counting when we got to 32 sets (a set being 4-8 placemats each). We had a great time laughing and pondering what our kids will name as our obsessions. In full disclosure, I realized that if my kids were to clean out my bedroom right now, they would find about 19 pairs of flannel and fleece pajama bottoms. I’m going to do something about that this weekend. I promise to pare it down to no more than 7 (at least, I will try to).

Valuables: There are items that have a real financial value, and items that have an emotional value. Sometimes, it can be tough to determine what falls into each category. No wonder so many shows on HGTV feature people discovering great finds at thrift shops that are worth lots of money. The man at the thrift shop literally started rolling his eyes at us when we pulled up with yet another truckload of items to be donated, and the odds are in some treasure-seeker’s favor that we donated at least one valuable piece of blue and white willow pottery, depression-era glass or sterling silver. It’s sitting in that thrift shop just waiting to be found. I realized that the things I own that may not look like much, but that do carry some financial value, need to be itemized and noted for those who eventually clean out my house. It will make things so much easier for them.

Friendships: The most important take-away from the weekend was that friendship ranks at the top of the “value” list. True friendships are absolutely priceless. Life is tough. We all endure our fair share of trials and tribulations. Having deep relationships and people by your side to cry with you and celebrate with you (and even to clean out with you and move on with you) is really what is most valuable in life. K’s mom was a role model for how to be a good friend to others as was evident by how many people we ran into who spoke so lovingly about her (neighbors, the postal carrier, people at the grocery store…). I realized, yet again, the importance of making time for and truly investing in friendships.

So, you see, it really was a wonderful weekend. We laughed and cried together. We supported each other. We contemplated our own mortality. We talked about our moms, and we talked about what we are like as moms ourselves. I think K’s mom was there with us in spirit and we hope she was laughing and smiling with us, even when we were making fun of some of her stuff (seriously, who needs 53 cloth napkins, 24 sets of sheets, and 8 sets of measuring cups?). The three of us friends made more memories together, and, in the end, collecting memories means so much more than collecting things.

Things go away. Memories last forever.

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The Lighter Side &Women's Issues

Taking Care of YourselfWomen's Issues

I Didn’t Marry My Best Friend!

April 2nd, 2016 → 11:16 am @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

Best Friend! – my latest for HuffPost!

2016-03-22-1458667480-5878166-IMG_5530.jpg

“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 I have known since elementary and middle school. The six of us met between fourth and seventh 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. In spite of it being nearly 1,500 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 taffeta 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 BFFs. 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 the others are coming from in their lives, 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 into the wee hours of the morning, we realized that five of the six 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 all 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 six of us sitting on the back porch at my parents’ house. The year was 1984. Yes! 1984! We took another photo last weekend of the six of us sitting on my back porch. Thirty years have passed between when those two photos were taken. Sure, we look a little different… a bit more mature (who knows when those little lines crept onto our faces?) — but we’re still smiling and laughing! And, I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if 30 years from now, in 2046, we are taking yet another photo sitting on someone’s back porch. Who knows? Give us a few more years and maybe the photo will capture us sitting in rocking chairs on the front porch of a retirement home! I do know this: I love these girls, and I’m thankful to have them in my life. We all need our girlfriends. We need to make the time to maintain and cultivate these relationships in our busy, hectic lives.

What do you think? Life is busy! How do you cultivate and maintain friendships with your girlfriends?

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Blogtalk &Taking Care of Yourself &Women's Issues

The Lighter SideWomen's Issues

The Top 5 Attributes of Real Friends

February 13th, 2015 → 9:34 am @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

Here’s my latest for eHarmony – Real Friends!

—–

friendships and what makes good ones

“What we’re all striving for is authenticity, a spirit-to-spirit connection.” — Oprah Winfrey

I recently had business meetings in NYC on a Monday. I took advantage of flying up there the weekend prior and scheduled catch-up time with several friends. Two of the friends lived in or near NYC so it was easy for us to get together. Two of the friends also had to come in from out of state. It took more effort to connect.

NYC is a great place, but we could have been anywhere. We talked and talked and talked … and apart from the sounds of NYC outside the cafes and restaurants we met at, we could have been in the middle of nowhere. All that mattered is that we were focused on each other, talking and reconnecting. Just this past week, a woman at my gym asked me what my favorite places were in Atlanta to hang out. Her best friend from middle school was coming to town for a long weekend. They hadn’t seen each other in 12 years and she wanted to show her around. I suggested that it was less about what they were going to see or do, and more about just catching up with each other.

I call my NYC weekend my “weekend of connecting.” Starting on Friday night, my husband and I googled “cozy warm small intimate Italian restaurants in New York City.” After a busy holiday season and a chaotic start to the year, we wanted to spend a quiet evening eating good food, drinking good wine, and connecting. We talked for hours until we realized we were the last couple in the restaurant. The next morning I set out to meet up with a friend who started off as a work acquaintance. We’ve only seen each other in person three times in our lives, but have developed a phone friendship that results in some really great dialogues. Our “quick-catch-up” ended up being a 2 ½ hour lunch.

Later that afternoon, I met another friend for a cup of tea. This friend is someone who I hired as an intern many, many years ago. We’ve always stayed in touch, and while I haven’t seen her in nearly 3 years, we spent 2 hours and several cups of green tea just talking and talking. That night I attended a business dinner with a group of people I didn’t know well or didn’t know at all. I was expecting the normal “surface” conversation, not deep connections, but was so incredibly pleased when our dinner-time conversation turned very real as we talked about our “word for the year” and what it meant to us.

The next day I visited one of my newer friends. I met her 3 years ago, and have only seen her 3 times, but she and I sat together and spoke for 2 hours. What I love is that this friend asks about me, my husband, my kids. She remembers our conversations and follows up on them the next time we talk. She is genuinely interested. She’s twice my age (and that’s pretty advanced!).

I realize I am at my best when I feel as if I am “connecting” with the people who are important in my life. We get so busy and caught up in our day-to-day lives that we forget to press pause and just be, and be with, and be real with one another.

Here’s my list of a few things that are important to me in my friendships:

1. Real friends initiate and reciprocate … they reach out to me just as much as I reach out to them … it’s a balance of deposits and withdrawals.

2. Real friends don’t allow the passage of time or distance to impact our ability to just pick right back up where we left off last time we saw each other … be that last week, last year, or last decade.

3. Real friends are the ones I know I can be totally honest with and have confidence that they will never bring things back and throw them in my face … this allows total vulnerability and honesty in our conversations.

4. Real friends ask about me, my family, my work and take a genuine interest in what is going on in my life … it’s a combination of asking and telling.

5. Real friends will call me out when they think I’m not being honest with myself … they will challenge me to be my best … because they honestly want the best for me.

“Side by side, or miles apart, good friends are always close to the heart.”

What about you? What would you add to the list of things that real friends do?

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The Lighter Side &Women's Issues

Dating, Romance, SexWomen's Issues

Taking the High Road and Being Brave

June 30th, 2014 → 8:46 am @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

My latest for “Always New You!” … High Road and Being Brave!

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Taking the High Road & Being Brave!

divorce-women

I just read a “divorce” book that I have to write about. In fact, I think every single woman should read it. If you are a widow, if you have been through a divorce, if you have friends who are widowed or divorced, then this book is for you. Do I sound cliché if I say, “I laughed, I cried … ?”

Written by Sue Magnum, “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.

This isn’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 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.

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 “The High Road Has Less Traffic: honest advice on the path through love and divorce” 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?”

You know my mantra is “taking the high road” and doing what is right by your kids in the face of whatever life brings you. Going through a divorce is certainly one of those things that can rock your world, and it’s often difficult to stay on that high road! If you are looking for a quick read, and an inspiring story, then 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 her. Yes, happiness is allowed, and you will find it again!

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Dating, Romance, Sex &Women's Issues

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

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.

________________________________________

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!Women's Issues

3 Ways to Stop Feeling Like a Failure

September 6th, 2013 → 8:53 am @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

My latest posted in Family Share magazine! Stop Feeling Like a Failure

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3 ways to stop feeling like a failure

“I feel like such a failure,” she cried. “I hate telling people I’m divorced. It just makes me sound like a failure, and I hate failing. It makes me sound like I couldn’t make my marriage work. I hate the stigma.”

Wow! She was really getting negative on herself, and although I tried to talk some sense into her, I did understand where she was coming from. I, too, struggled with the stigma of divorce. I didn’t like feeling like I had failed at my marriage. I hated the fact that I was just another statistic in the divorce archives. I felt like my marriage deserved to be more special than that — but in the end, it wasn’t.

Yes, perhaps our marriages did fail. We are now divorced. We are a statistic. But, that doesn’t mean we are failures — at all. In fact, it is what we do with that failure that ultimately determines what we gain from that experience. I argue that failing, and not learning anything from it, is a failure on your part. I would argue that failing, and learning every lesson you can from it so that you don’t fail again next time, is the ultimate show of tenacity, perseverance and success.

Own it. Your divorce is part of your story. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Don’t shy away from it, or from sharing that fact with others. A friend of mine has a young daughter who hated her red curly hair and freckles. Early on, my friend encouraged her daughter to own it. She said, you can let people see that these things get to you, and others will feel that and react to it as well, or you can own it and make it a valuable part of who you are that you fully embrace. People will feel your confidence. What a difference that positive approach has made for this girl.

Own your divorce, don’t try to shy away from the fact that you have been through the divorce process. I have often found that once I share the fact that I am divorced, others with whom I am speaking will jump in and add, “Me too!” and appear almost relieved that they can share that fact openly without any judgments being made.

Learn from it. A failure is only a failure if you keep on doing the same things, and never look at that failure as an opportunity to learn about yourself, and change things up a bit. Don’t let your divorce lead you down a dead-end street where you feel stuck with no place to go. Instead, let your divorce become a detour. I have found some of the most interesting finds (views, restaurants, cute shops) when I have been forced to take a detour while driving. Apply that to your life as well. Make your detour an opportunity to learn something new, find someone new, become a new you.

Redirect it. What a shame if you go through something as painful as a divorce and don’t take advantage of that opportunity to reflect back on what you might do differently or do better next time. And, if given the opportunity for a do-over or a second chance, how fun to be able to implement those things on which you reflected. I know I am doing things differently with my second chance and this has proven to be the most amazing detour. Redirect your own perception. Instead of crying, “Life will never be good again,” say, “I can’t wait to see what Life 2.0 brings me.” Instead of lamenting, “I will never be happy again,” ask, “What can I do, or where can I go, or what can I learn that will bring me joy?” Instead of letting adversity bring you down, use that experience to raise you up. Change your perception from one of dead-end to one of opportunity and see what life brings you.

Richard Branson said, Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” What have you learned from your divorce? More importantly, have you started again? There IS hope after divorce. It’s not a failure. It’s an experience in your unique story. Own it!

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Danger Zone! &Women's Issues