Tag Archives: post-divorce empowerment

Get out the pom pons

At dinner the other night with my newest friend-from-divorce-support we talked about how we had spent our lives being our now-ex spouse’s and children’s cheerleaders.

And that now it was time to be our own.

We don’t really know how to do that, but we decided that we would start by finding other women who were in the same position. Kind of start with cheerleading one another, and that maybe we’d get good at cheering ourselves. Just a few, to start.

Recently I tripped across the organizational development process known as Appreciative Inquiry.

When I was in corporate America we occasionally would go through these improvement initiatives – no doubt the brainchild of some middle manager who needed to prove his worth – that required us to get together in groups, find problems, document them and then figure out how to solve them. They came and went; we’d have the meetings, we’d make the charts, we’d create the PowerPoint presentations, and then we’d come up with ways to solve the problems we didn’t know we had until we started the process… Anyway, Appreciate Inquiry is one of those improvement processes that starts out a little differently. You start by figuring out what’s good – where the strengths are, and where the successes lie.

So I spent some time at the AI Commons website, and it occurred to me that this could be a nice way to start… not with what’s wrong but with what’s right.

You see, when you go through a divorce, you start to see (well, at least I did) your life through a rather dim lens. Something failed. You were part of something that broke. To use the corporate America metaphor, your organization went bankrupt and the management was responsible. And there was no government bailout. And we got fired.

Here’s the plan: find a small group of women (and, yes, that may be arbitrary, but I’m in charge so I get to pick and I only want women in this) who would like to figure out what’s right, would like to help one another move forward and participate in something where they can get unconditional support.

And I’m sure we’ll have cookies, too.

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Welcome to the sorority

I spent a few minutes on the phone tonight with a woman I met at the divorce support group to which I belong. We immediately connected, even though we’ve only met in person one time. We have a lot in common and – great icing on the cake – live in the same neighborhood.

It occurred to me how many women I’ve met and bonded with since separating from Mr. Ex. Really wonderful women with whom I’ve fostered some rich relationships in a relatively short time. And the irony isn’t lost on me that I would never have met these wonderful women, not to mention how close we’ve become, had I not become suddenly single once again.

Truly a silver lining.

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Best advice ever . . .

God bless Facebook for putting me in touch with old friends. One of the best reconnections I’ve made is with a former (gulp) student who’s now a counselor/coach. She’s got a terrific blog and has some great things to say. The following is some of the best advice I’ve read for the recovering once-married:

Is it possible to fall out of love? Millions of happily divorced couples would easily argue “yes.” But for lots of others, it seems a Herculean task. They can’t possibly stop loving someone, and will be connected to them, heart and soul, forever. This happens to the best. Even if the paramour in question is unfaithful, emotionally unavailable, mean, negative, controlling, violent, flaky, rude to your friends and family, or simply just isn’t that into you and has moved on.

But Billy Corgin is right—we are, ultimately, all rats in a cage. Or dogs. A bell rings, we salivate in anticipation. We press a lever, food comes out. If the food stops coming out or there is no yummy meat powder on the horizon, we eventually lose interest. Extinction. If we leave love alone, it will fade and change shape, and we will move on. But every time you engage with The Ex—send a letter, slash a tire, seek out gossip, make or receive phone calls, pour through old photos, you feed that connection instead of extinguishing it. So if you do want to fall out of love, you do want to lift that painful weight, you do want to extinguish that feeling, here are a few suggestions that might help:

Do not seek out or offer any information that is not absolutely necessary. When you’re letting go of love, you’ve got enough on your mind to process without incorporating any new information. So if The Ex is doing this or that, with this person or that person, does it really benefit you to know? Or does it just make you feel worse? So step away from the phone, twitter, myspace, text, or any other new millennium tools we have to torture ourselves by keeping personal lines of communication open, forever if we want. Extinction is about fading that emotional connection to dust, so memorize a line like “we’re not going to discuss that” if you do have to communicate with The Ex, adopt a don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy with friends and family, and focus conversations on the many other fabulous aspects of your life. And there are many!

Fill up the space with something—anything. Anything, I mean, that is healthy and productive. So no spontaneous sex, shopping or eating binges, draining the liquor cabinet, or all of the above. Whenever you decide to quit something, there is immediately a lot of time to fill. Time formerly spent drafting letters to The Ex, fighting with The Ex, responding to angry e-mails with The Ex—what do you want to do with that time now? Maybe reconnect with old friends. Go to a community event you’ve heard about. Learn something new. Exercise. Exercise. Did I say that twice? Now that you’re not fixating on someone else, you can fixate on yourself—and do something that will make you feel better, stronger, braver, and more confident.

Vent away—far away—from The Ex. Letting go of a relationship can be an agonizing, excruciating process. Do you want to yell? Do you want to sob? Then do it with gusto—so long as you are not doing it in the presence of The Ex. Cry on a friend’s shoulder. Run away by yourself for the weekend. Fill up a fireplace with angry letters and roast some marshmallows. If you have made the decision to fall out of love, that becomes a very individual process which no longer involves The Ex. This might be a good time to consider some therapy—which does the mind, body, and soul good! When you turn the attention onto yourself and embark on a journey of self-discovery, a neutral collaborator can be there to support you, empower you, and teach you a few handy tricks for the road ahead. No, your head will not be shrunk—but it just might be expanded.

Redefine the words you use. Words like soulmate and even the word love itself. I enjoy the idea of soulmates and you can imagine any number of ways to frame this concept. Me, I’m an X-Phile and got all the insight I needed on soulmates from the X-Files episode “The Field Where I Died.” Basically, souls mate—in clumps. Friends, lovers, family, coworkers, enemies, those eternal spirits kind of float through time with each other, appearing in different bodies as they travel on. Your child in this life was your teacher in a past one, for example. Perhaps it’s ridiculous, but for me it’s better than believing there is only one person out there who is a spiritual match. Why not experience having a few great loves, if necessary, by expanding your definitions to accommodate where life is taking you?

There is nothing easy about letting go of love—it’s probably the most painful thing anyone has to do in this life. There is grieving, there is the desire for closure, there is confusion, fear, and great existential anxiety. But there is also beauty, energy, and illumination waiting on the other side. So extinguish some behaviors, embrace your capacity to feel love, and let the rest of your life begin. Onward!

Nancy Goodman, LPC is a counselor/coach living in Pocatello, Idaho, where she writes a weekly wellness/spirituality/career column called “Fumbling Toward Serenity” for the Idaho State Journal. You can read her columns at http://vocatusidaho.blogspot.com. Nancy is available to meet in-person or via telephone; the first 50-minute appointment is always free, and all services are confidential. You can contact Nancy at goodnanc@yahoo.com or 208-478-1414.

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Filed under Creating a new life, Empowerment, Moving on

I’ve discovered the key to doing home repairs

I’ve been a crafter my whole life. I love to buy new craft toys, play at Michael’s, Hobby Lobby or Joann Fabric… The Internet changed my crafting life by exposing me to new ways of seeing and doing things.

This is it – the key to doing home repair. I just have to look at it the same way I look at crafting. Here’s what I found:

1. doing home repairs give me an excuse to buy new tools and play with new materials.

2. If you think of Home Depot as just another craft store, it’s way less threatening. It even has a cutting station, just like Joann.

3. Google anything, anything at all – you’ll find somebody on the Internet showing you how to do it.

4. Crafters have that “it’s more fun to do it myself” mentality. Just like home handypeople!

5. Doing my own home repairs takes advantage of my artistic ability, too. My heart just sang when I read that good grouting is more about artisitic ability than home repair skill. YES!

See ya later – I’m off to Home Depot (again!).

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Filed under Creating a new life, Empowerment, Finances, Fixing stuff, Haven for one

I feel like Bob Vila!

The Home Depot, Inc.
Image via Wikipedia

One of my spring break tasks was to deal with the moldy grout in the shower. Yuck.

I tried Oxy Clean. It got the tiles cleaner-than-clean, but didn’t tackle the grout at all. Boo.

So back to Home Depot I went and I purchased a Clorox Bleach Pen. I also purchased some stuff that I need to create the mosaic I want to make for the table I plan to paint for the living room (this becomes important later).

So, last evening around 8:00 pm I started to bleach the grout (what? you don’t do that at 8:00 pm? Well, there was nothing good on TV). It worked great.

It also ran down the wall – of course – and attacked the nasty caulk around the tiles that butt up against the tub.

Hm. Attack is a good word.

It came off, as did the tiles. Whoops.

I called Mr. Ex to find out what to do, and emailed his BlackBerry. No answer. I go look at the tiles again. Yup; still coming off. Six of those little suckers.

So – I decide that I need to deal with this myself. I Google “replacing bathroom caulk” or something like that, and within 30 minutes I’m an expert at what I need to do. I removed the loose tiles (not hard – the bleach had pretty much done that for me) and took them to the newly-cleaned out laundry toom to soak them in mineral spirits to remove the old cement, grout and caulk. I scraped off the old stuff from the tiles on the wall (not having a screwdriver I used a wooden paint stirrer from Home Depot – it worked) and cleaned and dried the area. The soaking tiles were clean and the remaining cement scraped off easily.

Now – I needed ceramic tile cement. Luckily, earlier that day I had already gone to Home Depot to get some for my mosaic project. How good was that? I also needed something to spread the cement on the tile. Did you ever notice that there are special tools and gadgets for everything in home repair? Well, I went through my craft supplies in the laundry room (again, newly cleaned, so it was easy) and found the tools that I had used when I was in my paste paper phase. Well, they’re just perfect for cementing tiles! Whoohoo.

So, back to the bathroom and the tiles. I put some music on, and did me some cementing. No big deal.

Crept back in an hour later – tiles still up.

Wow. I rock. The biggest problem is the the six tiles are waaaaaaay cleaner than the others, and when I’m done grouting and caulking that’ll be cleaner too. Oh well – this project will wait until this summer when Allie’s in Israel and I’m alone in the house. That way a few days or so with no upstairs bath won’t be a disaster.

So today it’ll be back to Home Depot for grout and caulk. I’m so cool.

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Filed under Empowerment, Singleness, Things I never did before

Read this…

Nancy Goodman is a counselor/coach in Idaho (yes, that Idaho) and a former student of mine (yikes!).

She writes a wonderful blog about the elusive quest for happiness, Fumbling Towards Serenity.

Her recent blog post about combating self-talk was just wonderful. It really hit home for me – it’s so easy to drown yourself in feelings of unworthiness when facing divorce.

Thanks, Nancy!

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Belongs in a (really large) fortune cookie…

A fortune cookie
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Evolved individuals know that people who are not intuitive can be dangerous to work with, since they are guided solely by the appearance of things that are, in reality, changing. Evolved individuals seek out others who have intuition and vision – a form of intelligence that comes from cultivating the instincts, observing the direction of change, apprehending the evolution of ideas ~ Lao Tzu

Okay, not really a fortune, but I really like this.

What does it have to do with divorce? Or making a new life as a single, middle-aged person? I’m focusing on the part about cultivating one’s instincts, observing the direction of change and apprehending the evolution of ideas. I think that, as an unhappy married person, I was all about ignoring my instincts, since that’s what allowed me to stay in a mediocre marriage in the first place. As for observing the direction of change – I think that right now my life is all about change, and resisting it doesn’t make sense, so you have to take this time to let the change in life kind of take over and be open to the new ideas – new paths – that will appear.

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