Do We Really NEED A Plan?

failingtoprepared5804b95c88b361a7bde79e79ebc2f78

Those quotes seem diametrically opposite….but they’re not.  You CAN do them both at the same time.  Having a plan doesn’t mean you’re confined in what you do.

Normally I work in my home office on the third floor.  I’ll get up and ready for the day, go down to the kitchen, have breakfast, then go back up where I work until lunchtime.  I’ll bring up my coffee and anything else I need, and plug away.

Since Dancing With The Stars started, I would carry my laptop down so I could vote on Facebook Monday evening, and bring it up Tuesday morning, then down again that night for more voting.  Last week though, I got tired of working harder, so I tried something new.  I kept the laptop down on the first floor and worked at the dining room table, then after Tuesday brought it back up to the loft.

The following meme shows another example of how integrating the 2 above quotes can actually make life fun!

 

worksmarterjoke

What are some examples of how you worked smarter not harder?  Because you were smarter, what were you able to do you couldn’t have before?

 

 

 

Unraveling Grief

griefstuckgrieving

There are months that go by that I have no problem doing what needs to be done, just plugging away.  Then BAM!!!  I have a day like what I had the other day.  It just hits me…a song heard on the radio who’s words cut deep, a careless comment by someone in passing, a meme read on Facebook turn me into a grieving mess.

What do you do?  You channel that grief into something.  Even if you can’t act on your plans, make a time to do so, and I can promise that you’ll be better able to refocus on your to do list.

Make a picture that you never show anyone, so it doesn’t matter how “good” you think it is.  This is about YOU and working through your grief, whatever the loss is.

Music more your thing?  Write a song about your pain, and working to wholeness again.

Are you a shutterbug?  Think of what sort of picture would embody how you’re feeling, then make it happen.

Not willing to try to be artistic?  Write it out in a poem or journal.  (A poem is a silent song, and a journal entry could be a mute ballad.)

Talk it out with a friend or lover….someone who really GETS you.

Which of these have you done?  How well did it work?  What else have you done?

 

How Do You Recover From Grief?

stages

This is the first time I’ve seen the above graphic about the stages of grief, and I like it sooooo much better than the typical 5 stage process you hear and see everywhere. Those five stages seem to my mind to be overly simplistic.  They don’t account for all the nuances of life, which this covers so well.

I don’t think its straight line either.  There are times that I digress or jump around in the arc, and I’m sure the same is true for you as well.  Everyone is different, and there IS no “set time frame” for you to recover from say a death of  loved one, or ending of a marriage.

I can honestly say though, that every single stage listed above I have gone through, both following my major head injury and my second marriage.  (The first wasn’t near as bad, though there were short times for most of the stages.)  I think the reason the second recovery hit me so hard was:

  1. Something called trauma bonding…see here for more of an explanation.  It’s not just me who is trauma bonded either, but my girls don’t even realize they are.  Of course I can’t tell them anything either; I’m just teaching them to recognize abusers for what they are, and how to stand up to them.  Every time they come back from their father’s, I have to go through a transition time before they act more like the young girls they are inside.
  2. My parents are celebrating their 55th anniversary right now, with a river cruise in France.  55 YEARS.  My older brother a couple years ago celebrated his 25th anniversary with his second wife.  I haven’t even made it to 15…in either marriage.
  3. All through the marriage I was a SAHM.  Before I met her father and Miss J all I had done for work was retail, despite my BA in communications.  with 2 small girls, there was no way I could afford to go back to that and pay childcare and keep a roof over our heads.  So I decided to get an MBA before I (reluctantly) reentered the work force.  Yet no one wants a reluctant employee.  Somewhere along the line, I also decided I didn’t want to help build someone else’s dream….I wanted to build my own.  So now I needed to figure out what that was….a process I’m refining as I go.

Next time, I’ll get into ways to process grief.  Do you think the recovery process working through grief is smooth or messy?  What are your experiences?

 

 

5 Steps To Start Thinking Positively

6d36dfb9e97fcce56e75da26db096f7c

Easier said than done…right?  Life is full of negative people and events.  I’ve got 5 simple steps to help you start training your mind to look at things positively.

  1.  Turn off the news.  I used to depend on getting my GMA fix every morning back when Joan Lunden and Charlie Gibson were the anchors.  Then after I moved in with ex #2 and Miss J, I didn’t want her seeing the grownup stories, so I broke myself.  (Miss J’s mom had passed several months previous.)  Sometimes I would catch the late news, but the really big stories you found out via social media anyway.  Ive gotten to where I don’t want that negativity in my life.
  2. If you have a DVR, use it to cut out commercials whenever possible.  This is VERY BIG in election years.  The negativity in the campaign commercials is staggering.  As a bonus..you won’t hear the sales pitches of the commercials, as well!  If not, then hit the mute button.
  3. When faced with a situation that could drag you into negativity, stop.  Recognize the situation for what it is, then instead of dramatically bemoaning your fate, figure out how you can either fix it or look at it positively.  Theres a saying: either you’re part of the solution, or part of the problem.
  4. Try to surround yourself with other positive people whenever possible.  We always become who we surround ourselves with.
  5. When you DO have to be around someone negative, imagine yourself surrounded by a protective bubble of positive energy.  This will allow you to interact with them as needed (a coworker, etc.) yet not absorb their negative energy.

Have you tried any of these suggestions?  What was the result?

 

Hobbies: Just For Kids?

happy2balive

What did you like to do when you were young?  What hobbies did you have, or wanted to get into?  Are any of them feasible for you to start up the practice of today?  Look around…online if you need to…to find where you can practice them with other people.  Common interests are a great way to make friends.

When I was very young, I took ballet and tap dancing.  Unfortunately, my class was only Saturday mornings….and since that was the only time cartoons were on…I didn’t want to take lessons.  (Yes, now you know I’m – gasp – almost middle-aged.  I got a late start having kids.)

I graduated to trying ice skating (my ankles were too weak), then found music lessons, and band.  I became a HUGE band geek in high school.  Whatever band there was, I was in.  I still loved dance though.  I got involved in the musicals in high school as well, and that was my first introduction to jazz/ theater dance.

Fast forward to college.  One of the things I got involved in (and it helped me with my imbalances I’d not fully resolved from the accident that changed my life in my junior year of high school) was theater dance.  We did both jazz and tap, and my instructor was really great.  She had been the youngest woman to have ever been a Rockette.

Each semester she would devote one class to ballroom dancing and it. was. a. BLAST.  I had wanted to get into it more, but in the late ’80s in NH the places you could take it were few and far between.  At one point I even tried out to be an Arthur Murray instructor, but since my coordination was still an issue, that wasn’t an option.

While I was with my girl’s father though, we did get into it…he wanted to show off at his company party initially.  I liked the connection we had from it, but it was so. much. FUN!  I really DID feel alive, as the quote above mentions.  When the marriage was falling apart, we stopped of course.  (I wasn’t going to put myself out there emotionally if he was done trying, as he’d told me he was.)

I finally started back in this past spring on my own doing it again.  So many of the instructors at the Arthur Murray studio we went to before have moved on, but 2 of them were still there.  Quite a few friends I had made there before are still going though, and it’s been great to reconnect with them.

IMG_3040

This was back in August, at an all day dance competition.  When my instructor came out of the dressing room with his shirt that way, another instructor teased him that she didn’t know his décolletage would exceed theirs!  I wore this dress to dance the rumba in….I even (surprisingly) placed among females at my level that danced the same time I did!  (There were a good dozen total couples on the floor at the time.)

So don’t give up on hobbies!  You’ll be so glad you didn’t.  What hobbies did you have as I child that you’ve kept up now that your an adult?  Or what did you wish you had kept up with?  Let me know!

Is Self-Love A Good Thing?

loveyourself learning2balone

When you think of someone “loving themselves”, do you cringe inside, or think “Gimme a break?”  There are lots of people who have an unhealthy amount of self – love, and can be quite hurtful to others, sometimes to the point of abuse.  That’s not what I’m talking about here.

No, what I’m talking about is what both quotes above allude to.  If you can’t stand being alone with your thoughts, chances are that others will not want to be around you either.  When you’re ok with being alone, you won’t end up running for the first potential mate that shows up; you can really sit back and think…is this person really the best?  (This is the place I’m at in my journey right now.)

Have you ever gone alone to a movie, or out to eat?  If you can, I encourage you to try it.  Go see the movie that you’ve secretly been wanting to see, but no one else wants to go.  Take yourself out to dinner at the nicest restaurant you can afford.  Instead of watching a favored team in your living room, go to a local bar to watch them in community.  (That’s what I did for last year’s Super Bowl.)  If you feel like it, strike up a conversation with someone there.  If not, thats cool too.

Next time, I’ll be giving you ideas of different activities to engage in where you can make new friends, and tell you some of my experiences.  (I may even post a pic from something I did back in August.)

 

Finding Your Tribe

acrofriends selflove

 

How long has it been since you have gotten together with the friends you grew up with?  If you’re like me….WAY too long.  You (or they) may have moved, your life now gets in the way, or whatever.  You may not want to socialize much more than you really need to with coworkers, so few, if any, true friendships there.  We were never meant to be an island, but our intrinsic makeup needs to be social, to varying degrees.  So how do you keep from ending up feeling alone, even while surrounded by people?  I’ve got a couple ideas for you to help find your “tribe.”

If like me you’ve gotten away from being the friendly, easy-going person you once were, start small.  I have been a member of an email group since before Facebook was around.   Some of the friends Ive made this way I’ve ended up meeting IRL (in real life) and are really close friends, even though they live far away.  Our antics and the fun we have had when together has been EPIC.  (More on that in another post.)

If you would rather do something a little more (or you don’t use email for anything other than work), there’s also another option.  On Facebook, do a search for groups with similar interests to yours and join a few of them.  Then be as active in them as your life will allow.  Just be careful how many you join, as it can overtake your life (and I speak from experience here).

One other option, but by no means the only, is to find a local group of people interested in the same things as you.  Meetup.com has innumerable groups all over, and you can search for whatever you’re interested in.  Setting up a profile is free, but most groups ask for a nominal membership fee.  I just logged in to my profile, and over 130,000 meetups are happening this week, 16 in the 10 groups I’m a member of.  When you meet people with a common interest, it’s easier to strike up a conversation.  The organizers at these group events are supposed to be (and in my experience DO) make sure no one is left out, and everyone has a good time.

Next time, I’ll talk about why we need to be our own best friend.  Have any thoughts about my post?  Don’t be shy…leave a comment!  I will read and respond to everything.  (Unless its trolling…which should go without saying, but…thats my boundary.)

 

 

 

 

Why Are YOU Here?

e73e4c3964ca711e14222f366ea573d5

Finding the reason you have been put on this earth is the single best use of your time.  When you know that, and can figure out a way to do that, things start falling into place.

When I was a little girl, I always thought that what I wanted to do was just be a mom and housewife.  (A testament to the awesome job my mom did.)  In middle and high school, I got into the trumpet, and fell in love.  I had the talent for it; from my freshman year through when I had my head injury at the end of my junior year, I was in every band there was.  By my sophomore year I was the soloist for the marching/ pep band, and second chair in concert and jazz bands.  I was planning on being a professional trumpeter.

Unfortunately in the accident at the end of my junior year, that all changed.  I was on the way to take my SATs when my friend I was riding with went off the highway.  The result of the head injury as applies to what I thought I was supposed to do was that I could no longer control the muscles in my face for the most crucial octave to control.  I tried though….for a LONG time to regain it….years.  I was in college before I gave up on that ever coming back.

Years would pass and I went along, doing what at the time I thought was living the best way I could.  I guess, to cut myself some slack, it WAS then best I knew…then.  As Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better.  Then when you know better, do better.”  I finished my degree, then though I tried all I found for work was retail jobs…not even managerial.  I’d divorced my first ex after he decided I was going to work all day and he stay at home doing different projects that were going to bring in money…eventually.  (We were also living in the dank,  musty in-law apartment of his parents house.)  He knew I had wanted to be a housewife and mother, and “supposedly” wanted it too…but I was almost 40 and could see myself doing the same thing 10 years down the road.  So I made plans and left.  That divorce, though we had very little of our own to speak of, took about a year and a half….he was just being difficult.

Then I met ex #2.  He was a widower, Miss J. was just 18 months old, and he wanted someone to be a SAHM with her.  (SAHM is Stay At Home Mom if you  haven’t heard it.)  Long story short, I got pregnant with Miss M., he asked me to marry him (and I found out I was pregnant 2 weeks later), and after the marriage the mental and emotional abuse started….very subtly.

Fast forward 6 years and more heartaches than good times later, I decided I needed to think about re-entering the workforce.  I knew I couldn’t do retail again with a family (not that I wanted to…15 years was enough).  We did too many things/went places on the weekends, and my girls needed me at bedtime.  I decided I was going to get an MBA before I tried to go back.  Within a month of starting the program, he told me he’s done trying to make our marriage work.  Do I back out of the program though?  Nope, I keep going…finishing with a 3.37 in the middle of the 3 day trial for the divorce almost 2 years and LOTS of struggle later.

So it all settles out, I’m moved out of that home and into my own place, and I’ve started sending out resumes.  I don’t get any interviews, and realize that I don’t want to help build someone else’s dream….I want to build mine.  I want to help people be their best selves.  I want to support those who have been beaten down emotionally and bring them up to the light and love that is their right.

I’ve shared the answer to why for me; what about you?  What’s your answer?  Do you think I’m full of sh*t?  Tell me.  If what I’ve said resonates with you, share my post, or leave a comment.

224735f4a8f9f024efac24f27b5198d6

Spiritual Beings, Part 2

a028996ba709fe5969755a8bd512e40d

Yesterday I mentioned my faith journey in part 1. Living up in New England, you can imagine how hard it was to find community, since covens are not my thing. My community became almost totally online (save a couple friends, when we could occasionally get together).

In one group, there was a person who was very active in the CUUPs (Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans) community. I was interested in getting involved locally, but thought that the closest UU church was over an hour away…too far to be practical. Or so I thought.

During my second marriage, I was usually online as much as possible to be in contact with all my friends. Then I had Miss M, and was diagnosed with PPD (postpartum depression). I think it was a misdiagnosis now…I was dealing with all the mental and emotional abuse from ex #2, and struggling with the transition from working full time to being a SAHM. Anyway….I started going to a local PPD group, and it was through friends I made there that I eventually found the faith community I am now a part of in the next town over. Being active in the church I found has enriched my life, challenged me, and helped give my life meaning. (Of course my parents came to one service a couple years ago, and said never again.)

I welcome your thoughts and comments (as long as they are respectful)! Tomorrow I’ll be telling you my thoughts on a personal spiritual path….one of connection with your higher power.

Spiritual Beings, Part 1

a028996ba709fe5969755a8bd512e40d

I heard this quote for the first time many years ago…..it seems like a lifetime, but only maybe 15 or so years.  I always wondered who had said it, as there was never credit given.  Turns out it was French Jesuit priest, also a paleontologist and a philosopher by the name of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.  Seems a good place to start our discussion on spiritual self care.

There are those who deny any spirituality in their lives.  Thats not who this post is for.  Its more for people who, like me, are sure that there is something more to life.

We all LONG for connection. Some find it in church. Others in nature. Others in helping those less fortunate. Still others in family, or a network of close friends.

It doesn’t really matter where we find it; our lives are the richer for it.

A little about me; I grew up in a Southern Baptist household. Dad was a deacon, for many years head of the deacons, and moms always heavily involved as well. Twice on Sundays and every Wednesday night we were there. Often we were one of the first families there and the last to leave. OF course I did as was expected of me…I was baptized when I was 7. I tried to fit in the mold….but it was always hollow for me.

Fast forward to my head injury…I can’t deny divine intervention there. The speed and magnitude of my recovery left little doubt of the existence of a higher being. I was only 17 at the time, and I accepted more fully my church’s teachings. Within a few years though, I realized it wasn’t enough. I was in denial and pushed myself harder into it, only to feel emptier.

By this time I was engaged to ex #1, who was catholic and heavily involved in the music ministry of his church. I had been singing the folk mass with him for several months already, so I decided that for family unity I would become a catholic. I did that for a few years, then the church did some not nice things to us, and we stopped going.

It was my ex who introduced me to paganism in searching for a new connection. At first my Southern Baptist upbringing was like “EWWW! NEVER!!!” Then after a while I started reading the book he had bought….and it was like going home.

Tomorrow I’ll continue the story, and continue talking about spiritual community. I welcome your thoughts and comments…as long as they’re respectful. We all have the right to our beliefs. If you like any of my posts, feel free to share them!