How to Find Hope & Motivation after Divorce

 

There’s something about life after moving that has reminded me so much about how things were after I got divorced, 17 years ago.

There came a point when I knew what I had to do, when I couldn’t live as I had been. When I understood I’d be better off on my own than in a marriage where I was expected to bow to all his needs with no expectation of return. A marriage where I spent an awful lot of time alone, feeling like a single parent, and furious with him for landing me in that situation.

Then came the flurry of activity that is divorce – thankfully it was a relatively amicable split, but there were still legalities to work out, stuff to sort and the kids to consider and nurture in a new way.

I lay awake at night worried I’d never be able to support myself and 2 kids (albeit part-time) on my own, until life eventually settled into something I could handle. As sad and as difficult as it was, I took a certain pleasure in being able to stretch my wings more than I ever had with my parenting and the house, without judgment or accusations of being inconsiderate.

That’s when it reality hit.

There I was, 34 years old: I’d been through school and had a steady job. I’d travelled a bit, been married, had kids. All the boxes I’d wanted to tick as a girl had been ticked, or at least the ones I believed should have been ticked.

Was that it?

Will this be my life from now on?

With a few health issues no longer content to stay in the background, it started to feel like it would even start heading downhill from there.

This happens after a move or a big career shift as well as with divorce, that once the stress calms into a routine, there’s a lull.

A wise woman will recognize that lull for what it is: a well-needed break, the calm after the storm. Time to rest, rejuvenate and gather your resources for what comes next in this life on the other side.

Sometimes, we’re not so wise.

There were days when I came face to face with the same issues as before. I was alone, having to do it all on my own. Some days I wondered why I’d even bothered.

Am I really better off than before?

Did I really need to upend the kids to still be in the same place?

And I was still blaming him for it.

It was my garden that spring that taught me the lesson I needed to learn: it’s possible, even inevitable, to start over.

Every year, the flowers wither and die. Fields go fallow and leaves rot. After the snow melts, the world’s all muddy and smelly. There’s a moment when you almost doubt anything will ever actually grow. And then it does.

Look out the window and it’s all dank and colourless. The sun warms up that much more and poof! It’s orange and yellow and violet. Robins chirp. Crab apple blossoms and lilacs fill the air with their perfume. Pea shoots herald crisp green sweetness.

Something had died in my life; come to an end. That didn’t mean I needed to stagnate in the fallout.

It was time to let the seeds of what I wanted for myself to take root. It was time to notice the colours in me, and ask myself: What form of sunshine would help them to bloom?

I started to focus the warmth of my attention on just that: people and activities and food that lit me up, that excited me and nourished me to my very core.

I started to trim away the branches that were holding me down – the blame, the regret, the self-flagellation.

I had done all this, kept putting one foot in front of the other through the previous year because I needed to make me a priority. I chose this life so that my needs, my values would have space to grow in a nurturing environment. How else could I expect to be truly healthy, effectively raise my sons and be of any service in my community?

When you’ve lost motivation for what you want most, when you can’t find the hope of a better day, I beg of you to try this:

Open your senses to the world around you.

Notice:

what flavours make you swoon

which aromas make you sigh

which colours energize your mind

which music makes you dance

Remember: The most beautiful bounty grows from the humus and rot.

Don’t give up on yourself!

 

If you need more help putting self-care at the top of the list, let me know, I’d be glad to help. Click here and we’ll set up a time to talk.

 

If you know someone who’s stagnating in the fallout of the life they’ve left behind, help them to blossom using any of the share buttons below.

How to Connect your Body & Mind

 

When big things are happening in my life, when I feel the most busy and in danger of the to-do list being in charge, the most effective way I know of getting back in control is to sit in silence for 10 minutes each morning.

It took a certain amount of discipline – ok, let’s be honest, a good deal of conscious effort – to start getting up early for this, but it has been worth it. If nothing else, I love that the house is all mine, that the time is all mine, that the quiet is all mine to enjoy and use as I need & desire.

This is something I do before I get dressed or check my phone/email/Facebook or my to-do list; before I even think about making breakfast or lunches. I spend 15-30 minutes getting clear on who I am in this moment, and rewiring the disconnect between my mind and my body, before any of the outer world starts its inevitable invasion. As soon as I get up, I meditate.

This isn’t something that came to me easily.

Every time I tried, in a yoga class or because I knew I “should”, I would get squirmy and my ever-chattering mind would take me down rabbit holes of whirring thoughts & worry. I figured, “I’m just no good at it,” and gave up on myself far too quickly.

Of course it wasn’t working. Those occasions were so few and far between that I never got any real practice. How many times have I explained to my kids that skating or drawing or swimming or guitar or spelling gets better the more you do it. As with any of those activities, the more often you try, the better you get, the more it evolves with you, hence the word practice for meditation, for yoga, even for professional services. It’s about the repetition, as much as it’s about testing out different techniques, stretching your limits and honing your skills. If one way doesn’t work, try something else.

My homeopath directed me to a website that got me over the hump. It had straightforward explanations and a simple guided audio to follow for 8 days. (headspace.com if you want to give it a shot – I’m not trying to sell anything here, just sharing resource that’s free and effective.) Their analogy of thoughts in relation to self, like the clouds covering the sky, was the lightbulb I needed to understand and be able to follow. The blue sky is there regardless of the size, shape, density or colour of the clouds blocking it from view.

It took quite a few tries – religiously practicing every day for 10 minutes – before I got past all the clouds (thoughts in my head) to the blue sky beneath them. What I discovered there was the most remarkable place of grounded, open, strong and vulnerable beauty.

I was in touch with Me, my soul, my being at its very core; my power.

Sometimes the contact is fleeting, other days I can sink into it fully. Even if I never get there at all on a given day, knowing that it’s perpetually present in me is enough to fuel my day. “I am here!”, no matter how good or how shitty things might get later on.

Now that’s the other remarkable par: days don’t get too bad anymore. This shift was entirely unconscious and so subtle it took a while for me to notice. It seems that knowing my truth is there and constant, the rest of life’s ups & downs don’t hold the same barbs that would get me caught up in drama or anxiety. I am better able to ride those waves of life with more flow.

In the 2 years since I truly started a meditation practice, it’s grown and evolved to include prayers to the natural universe for support (usually while I walk); petitions for concrete help when I need it; pulling Tarot and other cards as inspiration, motivation or a theme for the day’s mantra. I also nourish my soul and enrich what has come out of meditation with affirmations and journal writing.

My morning routine has become the ritual that allows me time for myself, to nourish my whole being, and to start each day with intention. In the coming weeks I’ll be discussing how to stay focused despite the emotional whirlwind that is your life right now. (Sign up in the box below so you don’t miss the coming instalments of how you might do the same.)

What do you do each day to connect the different parts of your self? When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.

Know someone else who needs permission to focus on herself before the day gets away from her? Send her this post using any (or all!) of the buttons below.

Choosing Toxicity

 

Powerful words hit home at just the right time.

Clearing through my desk drawers, I came across “Your Metabolic Journey”, a sublime excerpt from Marc David’s Slow Food. Like any truly wise piece, it strikes a different chord each time I read it.

Going through once again, I paused at this part: “If you invite toxicity into the body then you are asking it into your personal world.” True. Could apply to me. The full impact of how deeply these words were meant for me didn’t show up until a few days later.

A Bad Habit Revealed

I hate to admit this out loud, but I tend to be the shoemaker’s child when it comes to my eating habits. Using the turmoil of a big move as an excuse, that tendency took over and became the beast I’d worked so hard to tame. My food intake was less than exemplary, less than nourishing.

I was eating stuff that I clearly know is bad for me (because of asthma and gallstones and other issues that seem to be cropping up like weeds as I age). I am a much happier girl if I stay away from gluten, dairy, sugar, dark chocolate (I know!), greasy food and alcohol. Yet, I was eating bread and pasta and baked goods constantly. I was adding cheese and creamy sauces to everything.

A Nagging Belief

As part of my inner journey, I recently came face-to-face with a belief I held around punishment necessarily following reward. Call it the Upper Limits Problem (à la Gay & Kathleen Hendricks), or a fear that something bad must follow the good, a loss after a win. I started living in dread that some mysterious shoe would drop because of many positive changes in my life, to the point that I was lying awake, imagining the possibilities in all sorts of permutations from identity theft to brain tumours to multiple forms of destitution.

I’m always on the lookout for when and how certain conditions start in body and mind, so I wracked my brain for the story or memory that would have set that belief in motion. Yet, it didn’t seem to resonate with any of the childhood stuff I’ve rehashed for other juicy info.

How Habits Create Beliefs

A few days later, I woke up to the fact that I was nursing a glass of port while nibbling a bowl of chips into which I’d dumped a pack of Reese’s Pieces.

This wasn’t a party or a special occasion or a rare occurrence. I was having them, the worst foods for my digestive and adrenal health – for the 3rd day in a row – as I supervised homework and got supper started. To be perfectly honest, I’d been eating chips and drinking alcohol more regularly than is good for me these past months, along with my other transgressions.

You see, I’d had a good day, was feeling carefree and I figured, “Why not?” knowing full well I’d likely be suffering in the days to come. This is a pattern with me. Nothing new.

And that’s when Marc David’s words hit me full force. The belief in punishment is not a result of some trauma that happened when I was 3. It’s the result of a current habit I’d let slip into daily routine.

How crazy is that? I’ve been punishing my body as a means of celebration.

How to Turn Awareness into Action

The lesson I’d received went one step deeper the next day when I, yet again, chose a glass of port over herbal tea for my mid-afternoon treat… because it was there.

It seems that becoming aware of the pattern wasn’t enough to get me to stop. It took a much harsher reality to snap me out of it completely.

The 8-year-old daughter of a dear friend has a usually benign condition that, in her case, causes intestinal bleeding. It’s been stable for several years, but has recently come back with a vengeance. The day after my big Aha, she was in surgery for the 2nd time in as many weeks, as 5 doctors performed innovative techniques to stop it once and for all.

This girl was fighting for her life, yet I continued to take my own digestive & healing capacity for granted by clogging them up with the very elements that cause me the most harm.

My good intentions took on a whole other meaning when they weren’t just about me. I needed a cause greater than myself – a Why – to jump-start the humility it took to step fully into the shift.

I’d been praying and sending healing light to my friend, her family, the doctors. It was time I put my prayers into action. …Maybe create a new belief in the process.

The only way I can build trust in the Universe’s inherent goodness, to trust the powers at be to keep me safe when things go well, is to build trust in myself to do the same.

Regardless of how magical the intention behind your thoughts and words, there comes a time when you need to set the wheels in motion with concrete action. If I want to free myself from unnecessary punishment, I need to stop punishing myself unnecessarily.

If I want to enjoy vibrant health, I need to stop the practices which dull that vibration.

A Belief is a Choice

Another thought lands as these realizations swirl through me, mind, body and soul: holding onto a belief or a habit is a choice.

And so I choose to detoxify. Not a full-on diet change, I simply reduce the ways in which I “invite toxicity” into my body.

I choose instead to “invite the sacred into [my] personal world, [so I] will find it inhabiting [my] metabolic world.” (Marc David)

I choose reward over punishment, health over setbacks.

I choose to feed my body, my thoughts, my beliefs according to the person I want to be.

I choose to show myself the Love I want to radiate to the world.

And you know what? Like magic, there’s been no question or struggle about nourishing vs harmful foods ever since.

What about you? Which of your habits perpetuate beliefs you’d rather clear? What awareness have you recently had which now needs action to alter your metabolism and your life?

When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.

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Better Eating Habits Made Easy

“What the hell do I eat?!?”

Freeze frame on the woman in my office.

Deer in the headlights. Panic stricken.

A little over an hour ago, she walked in with a smile on her face. We exchanged pleasantries then she proceeded to tell me how the inflammation/hormones/lack of sleep is affecting her body and her life.

She walked me through a typical day, we talked about when things started to go awry, then we dove beneath the surface. We explored the ways her life situations contribute to her symptoms. We focused inward, listening to her body’s clues about what it needs.

Through it all, she followed my lead and answered my questions with curiosity and that raw honesty you bring forth when you’re committed to doing what it takes to fix this thing once and for all.

Then we got back to the practical side of things. The lifestyle shifts and food suggestions that will reduce her symptoms and help her body rebalance. This is when I explained how ___________ (gluten, dairy, sugar, refined food,…) are part of the problem and she’d do better to do without.

That’s the moment when the deer stepped onto the road. “There’s nothing left to eat!”

You’d think I’d just told her we needed to cut off her arm.

It’s the first reaction, isn’t it?

Regardless of what the doctor or the naturopath has explained, or despite test results that show a clear sensitivity to certain foods, a wall goes up.

Before you open your mind to the possibilities the changes present – among them feeling better! – the first thought is that there’s nothing left to eat.

It’s like when you take the same route home from work every day, then one day there’s a construction detour. Do you happily trust the detour signs to get you where you need to go, or do you go into panic mode because your routine has been sideswiped?

Resistance is the ego’s way of making sure you stay safe. Its definition of “safe” being “familiar”. If there’s one thing we all resist more than anything else it’s change – stepping out of the ol’ comfort zone and into the unknown.

Resistance also smacks of your inner teenager rebelling when she’s told No.

When it comes to food and eating habits, treading into the zone of resistance and rebellion is par for the course. Your brain, your gut and your emotions are hard-wired together more tightly than that tangle of string in your kitchen junk drawer. Pleasure, punishment, associations, comfort, control all balled up with fears and skewed needs for love and attention.

So, even if you’ve made a conscious decision to change the way you eat for the sake of your health, it takes a bit of time – and potential backsliding – to sort out the knots and get some new habits in place.

Sure I could jump in and give you a list of ways to replace the poor choices for better. You could browse the cookbooks at your local Indigo or Google x-free recipes and find more ideas than you’d ever have time to use.

Before you can go there, though, you need to make friends with that rebellious teen. Settle the panic from the inside so you have more success on the outside.

Rather than run with a list to the health food store, grab your journal and ask yourself the following 3 questions:

1. WHY are you making these changes?

The first response here might be “because the doctor/naturopath/osteopath told me to”. Maybe you’ve seen a friend have success with a particular eating style. Maybe you’re just trying the next thing on the list of trends that may fix your “thing” once and for all.

Which gets to the next layer of response: fixing your thing. Do you want to lose 15lbs, sleep better, have more energy, stop being in pain after every meal…?

Sure, those are all part of why you’re cutting out some of your favourite foods. Now look at why those things are important to you.

How will your life improve or be different after those pounds are gone? How will your parenting, marriage, career shift once you’re feeling better? What parts of your life are you putting off because of these issues?

2. WHAT’S preventing you from making the changes?

Perhaps it’s the practical steps that have kept you stuck. “I don’t know what to eat.” Fortunately, this one’s easily rectified thanks to books, the internet and professional advice.

What else is holding you back from getting closer to your health goals? I usually phrase this with clients as: What are the benefits to staying in this state?

Benefits to being fat, tired and in pain – is this woman insane?!?

Breathe into that question. Sit with how it makes you uncomfortable. You may even want to put it on the backburner for a day or two. Then come back to it. Gently.

Does the added weight keep you connected to your late father? Help you establish your place in the family or at work? Does your pain get you special attention? Does the lack of energy allow you to keep playing small?

There’s no judgment in what comes up here. No shame in understanding your motivations and beliefs.

Only once you see them can you determine if you still need them or if you can pack them up and send them on their way.

3. How do you want to FEEL?

What’s your dream solution?

How would you feel, how would you look, if the health issues were cleared?

How will you feel when those shifts in your life actually come to fruition? What are the actual sensations in your body when you’re living the life you want to be living?

I’ll bet there are variations of expansiveness, lightness, groundedness. I’ll also bet there’s a sense of safety, of feeling well in your own skin.

Whatever those sensations are, hang out with them and describe them to yourself or a partner until you know them in detail – the colour, the temperature, the texture, the image they remind you of. Notice how you sit and stand when you feel that way. Notice how you speak when you feel that way – both the words you use and the timber of your voice.

Let these sensations in your body become familiar. Let them permeate you with how safe & comfortable you are in that state.

Give the way you feel a name: Grounded Expansion. Blue Angel. River of Calm.

Now, set that as your intention. The Why of the changes you’ll make – dietary or otherwise.

Use it as your touchstone when the voice of panic creeps in to sabotage your efforts, or when your friends try to twist your arm to accept one small piece of fudge cake.

Ground back into your intention. Your safe zone. From there you can build new habits to help create and sustain that way of being on the outside. From there you can decide if, in this moment, a piece of cake to bond with friends is more important than the integrity of your digestive tract.

Holding the intention of who you want to be and why you want to be that person opens the door of possibility wide enough that the necessary changes no longer induce fear. They become almost effortless.

If you still need help with the details, by all means, get in touch. I’d be only too happy to guide you.

In the comments, tell us what your biggest block is when it comes to changing an eating habit. How did you overcome it, or do you still struggle with it? When you share your thoughts, you open the possibilities for others.

Know someone else who’s stuck making necessary changes to her eating habits? Send her this post using any (or all!) of these buttons.

A Healthy Expression of You

 

I’m so glad I embraced that new tradition of coming up with a Word of the Year. It has so much more staying power and room for possibility, rather than resolutions for things you’ll jump into whole-heartedly for 3 weeks, then let fizzle out and gather dust with those last few Christmas ornaments you keep forgetting to pack away.

For 2015, I chose Trust. It held a place of honour on my first-ever vision board (unless you count my adolescent bedroom wall). It underlay the decisions I made in work and life. It peppered my parenting. Trust allowed me to take a step back from the worried, need-to-control-every-outcome-in-my-life thoughts that spin around my head at 3 am.

A year based on Trust opened the space for more possibility and best of all, those possibilities showed up!

  • As deep connections with new colleagues and clients;
  • As more clients (aka more income);
  • As fewer stress-based knee-jerk reactions when the shit hit the fan;
  • As fewer inner battles around eating “good” food and steering clear of the stuff that does me harm;
  • As professionals trusting me to be the person they needed to flesh out their projects – a reflection of my own trust in having the ability to step up and be that person;
  • As fewer arguments, more ease and fun, with my sons;
  • As a more honest look at who I am and what I want/need.

As magical as the power of commitment to a word is, there’s magic in the discovery of the word in the first place.

How to Choose a Word

There are plenty of business and life coaches around with tools to help you find your word for the coming year. Some of them are based on core feelings, some on core values…or a combination of the two. (If you want a specific reference, let me know and I’ll send you some links.)

In the end, it comes down to being aware of what you say, what you write, which topics draw you in as you read – notice the words and themes that come up often. It’s the way that your soul gently invites you to explore what’s most important for your growth and healing over the next 4 seasons.

This is how it’s transpired for me in the last few weeks:

I’ve given a lot of attention to stepping away from letting the list of shoulds dictate my day, and moving towards decisive action.

Small moments of dishonesty – “white” lies, omissions, denial – mostly to myself – have been coming out of the shadows and tapping me on the shoulder for appraisal.

I noticed ways in which I held myself back from saying what I fully needed to say to a client, in a supervision group, to my child, to my husband. …Or let it out in a passive aggressive way.

I noticed ways in which I shied away from giving all I could have in a situation – food for a pot-luck, donations, gifts.

During an energetic medicine session, my throat became tight at the same time as the practitioner started coughing.

In part it was all about doing over not doing, saying over holding back. But as I sat with it, really let it all sink in as I journaled about it, the word came out loud and clear.

Expression

Perhaps it could be seen as an extension of the trust I built last year. Where trust required a bit more surrender, expression requires a verb. It’s the movement, the action, the saying of the words that come up when I trust myself. Expression is a fully honest manifestation of me – poured forth into a safe container held by people I trust to receive it.

I have a feeling it’ll prove to be the “master class” for what I learned about over the past year. As I prepare to commit to its development through 2016, I recognize it will also come with a more expanded sense of responsibility, as who I am is more openly expressed.

Regardless, I’m already excited about the magic it will create in my health, my relationships and my life.

What do you need more of in 2016? Would finding a theme word help you achieve it? Let’s find out: write your word here and open the possibilities for yourself!

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