In with the new …

ID-10088168Over many years, rather than a list of resolutions of what I would like ‘to do‘ for the year, I had thought of new beginnings in philosophical terms of what I would like ‘to be‘ such as being responsible for my own destiny; developing a strong core of principled values, beliefs, and attitudes; and showing courage, kindness and fairness.

Whilst commendable, that philosophical framework did little to actually move me forward out of the mud of the nearly four years of the marital property legal settlement. For that, practical aims were needed and a return of that dreaded ‘to-do’ list. In that regard, I was buoyed by a suggestion to re-frame the processes for the settlement as steps towards my future, rather than thinking in terms of being stuck in the past. That suggestion was as if a light had come on. My mother, also recognizing I was suffering a dread of pushing through the legal steps rather than an inability to get over emotional aspects, later reinforced this. “You just have to get stuck in and get it all done”, were her words to me. So, even though I yearned for the luxury of starting my new life, in 2014, I had to push aside my emotional pain and set practical goals to get the marital settlement over the line.

In January 2015, the legal papers were finally signed. Even though there would be no going back, the actual processes would still take some time. Because of administrative tasks, I was not yet free. At the time, my mother was also gravely ill and I was sharing in her full- time care. My life was still on hold. However, with the sale of the business, and changes happening around me, I needed a new focus for the year – for me. On January 02, with a lightening bolt of an idea, I decided to focus on my health for a full year. Throughout 2015, while caring for my mother and grieving her death, while dealing with administrative tasks of the legal separation, while sorting out the 600 archive boxes in the shed, I have clung onto that one goal for 2015 as something for me. I achieved that goal. Now, rather than having a feeling of still being stuck because I have not moved on as I am living in the same house in the same town, I have not started a new career, and I have not been on any exciting adventures; I do have an enormous sense of achievement in keeping to that goal. Moreover, my health, weight improvement (and new wardrobe) have transformed me.

Keeping goals makes me feel good about myself and feeling good about myself is good for me. So it seems for two years in a row now, practical goals and the dreaded ‘to-do’ list have actually worked for me. Maybe there is something in my character or personality that responds well to set goals, at least for practical aspects of my life. With that in mind, let me continue and tick a few more things off my list…

Here are my practical goals for 2016:

  1. Sell my home and set-up a new home nearer other family members.
  2. Set my financial goals, including developing a new avenue of income.
  3. Spend time with my siblings in NSW, my son in Canada, friends and family.

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Images.courtesy[StuartMiles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Out with the old …

DSCN2382I have been somewhat absent from blogging the past few months for various reasons including good reasons (visiting my grand-daughters more often, sharing with my son the launch of his first book, and joyous family times with all children home for Christmas) and a not-so-good reason of my internet being slow and thus I have frustratingly not been able to download / upload the photos I want to complement my writing experience.

HOWEVER …

The main reason for my absence is that I have been making a concerted effort to shed all my past baggage (both literally and metaphorically) in order to move on to my new life.

I have been working on getting rid of the 600+ archive boxes in the shed and I am now down to ~ 150. This has been a MASSIVE task and at times sent me just a little bit crazy!

I have been losing excess weight in my so-far successful H.E.A.L.T.H.plan and, even though I am now down to my ‘healthy weight range’ goal, I am continuing with a new aim to get down to the weight I was at age eighteen. As the plan involves more moving, less sitting, there has been less time available to blog. (Oh, the sacrifices I am making for me!)

I have been continuing with the shedding of emotional baggage – which comes and goes with the sorting of the boxes in the shed and looking at photos, shared projects etc

I will write more in-depth on these achievements at a future date. For now, I simply wanted to let you know that the process of ridding myself of unwanted baggage and leaving behind the last remnants of my past life has left me at the end of this year 2015 feeling that …

It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
For me
And I’m feeling good’ **

Wishing everyone a peaceful and joyous 2016.

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** Quote and Youtube video clip from “Feeling Good’ 1965 Nina Simone
Written by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse

Finding my stronger voice

ID-10083213In my quiet space, I have been having flash-backs to past events and feeling how I felt at the time (including negative feelings) rather than stifling those feelings. This has not been looking back at a past happy time and now seeing it in a sad way, it is looking back at a past positive experience that had negative sides and now feeling that negativity.

For example: one new year due to my mother-in-law suffering an injury, I stayed home two nights to care for her and my two younger children while my husband and two older children celebrated with others at the beach. The voices I listened to at the time were my mother-in-law not wanting to be a burden, my husband needing a break and my upbringing of doing the right thing.

My small voice

It was a huge step for me to feel my own feelings at the time of – sadness (missing that celebration with my family), anger (the event was not cancelled so we could be together), and unfairness (my own needs were neglected). I am now allowing myself to feel that pain as I too am vulnerable. I do not have to always be the strong one. My voice is being heard above the crowd. I too am important. I do not always have to stand aside. (Reading between the lines = resentment that he could not give up his NY party).

While it is enlightening that I am recognizing my own voice, that immediate voice I hear has been in some respects reactive rather than responsive. That voice has been my small voice playing the victim of being trampled on rather than the survivor who stands firm. My small voice is me being the warrior who wants to fight for my rights rather than the carer who wants to heal a situation.

The influences on my voice

My own voice had been influenced over the past four years by divorce advice and reading past events as supposedly “red flags” that I had missed. So the voices say to me ‘how selfish of him’, ‘he treated me badly’, ‘I was neglected’ (voice = he is the bad guy) OR ‘I did not stand up for myself’, ‘I became an enabler to his selfishness’,  ‘I created the situation for betrayal’ (voice = I am a weakling). Listening to either voice, someone has to be at “fault” with the casting of either blame at his choices or shame in mine.

In reality, at the time the choices were a compromise that in a good marriage happens all the time. Make allowances. Understand. Care. Quite often in a marriage when there is young children, elderly parents or someone working long hours; sacrifices are made for the greater good of the relationship or family. That is what happened at the time. It was not a missed ‘red flag’.

Finding my stronger voice

I began ignoring other voices including my reactive small voice twisting the past. Instead I looked at why I was feeling pain over an event of 27 years ago. The trigger was an example of me being ‘the good wife’. Perhaps (looking back) I would have preferred he had made the choice to move the new-year event to home so that we could have been together that night. However, I am not responsible for his choice, only mine. What I did that night was to put his mother and her needs as my priority. While at the time I felt I had been appreciated, his decision to leave me 23 years later now overshadowed that. The pain I felt was that my caring side was not considered in his decision. In the here and now, it was the wanting to belong to someone who deeply cared for me and who appreciated me for who I am.

My response

If I responded to my small voice I would get sucked down into the blame and shame game.

I am not a vindictive person so to impulsively demean or blame violates my own values with revenge-thoughts I do not like. Focussing on actions done or words said or how others have behaved towards me adds to the blame-game. I am not that person.

Degrading myself with critical ‘you are hopeless’ makes me think I should become more selfish, less caring and to stop thinking of others. I am not that person.

The truth is the lack of being appreciated by one person for my caring actions does not mean those actions or that trait in me were wrong or weak. Quite the opposite.

Appreciation and caring are a great strength and the greatest acts of human kindness.

I need to focus more on appreciation of others, and those who appreciate me.
I need to focus more on caring for others, and of those in need.

This is empowering.

This is my stronger voice. I have found it.

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Images.courtesy[africa/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My H.E.A.L.T.H. plan – A is for Active – how doing ‘something’ every day grew to 10,000 steps

ID-10043382.digitalartTwo years ago I wrote a post on how my attempts at engaging in an exercise programme (such as running or going to the gym) repeatedly failed. That was because it was an all or nothing approach that I took. I would do lots of exercise. I would get sick of that. Then I would slip back into doing nothing at all.

At that point in time when I wrote that post, which was I might add a fairly intense period of my life when I was extremely busy, I resolved instead to simply do ‘something’ every day, whether that was a short walk or housework or similar.

Life unfolded again and again after that and so getting myself into a proper exercise programme was indeed out of the question. I simply could not commit that time as there was too much else going on in my life. However, I kept up with doing ‘something’. I told myself I had to do a minimum of ten minutes a day. That does not sound very much and indeed it isn’t and that is the point. There was simply no excuse for not being able to find at least ten minutes a day. But what that ten minutes became was a commitment to myself that no matter how bleak the day was, no matter how overwhelming the tasks in front of me were, I always deserved those ten minutes for me, for my health, for my well being.

The ten minutes grew to fifteen and then to twenty. I came to really enjoy those twenty minutes each day where generally I would go for a walk after breakfast. I kept up that twenty minutes through rain, hail, and sunshine.

Since I began my H.E.A.L.T.H.plan where I resolved to take fifty weeks or one year to get my health fully back on track [giving myself two weeks off over Christmas 🙂 ] and especially the last four months since the final ending of the marital settlement, I have been doing even more. The morning walk has gradually increased to forty minutes a day, and each afternoon I go into town and by doing so clock up an extra twenty minutes of walking. Then I have been giving the house a much-needed spring clean, room by room. It is amazing how many ‘something’ minutes are clocked up when you become a better house-keeping person. Last, but not least, a definite advantage of sorting the boxes upon boxes in the garage, is the fact that it has added to the little bits of ‘something’ that I have been doing.

A few weeks ago, I downloaded a fitness app onto my phone that counts the number of steps I do a day. I was so excited when the first day I used it I clocked up 10,000 steps which the app told me is more active that 94% of the population. Some days I have clocked up 15,000. I have never considered myself a fitness freak and indeed I hate exercise and it did give me a thrill to realize that I was doing more than 94% of the population, simply by doing ‘something’ over and over throughout the day.

I have found the app is good as it does motivate me to go that extra distance, park the car a few blocks from where I need to so that I need to walk there and back and that adds up to my daily score. The children have similar ones on their phones or ones on their wrists and we text each other as to the steps we have done each day. So this has given me something to share with my children even though they are not with me – the enthusiasm for becoming more active. And now they are running and going to the gym to get their scores up, as they have to do that (after a sedentary day at work) in order to keep up with Mum who is simply doing ‘something’ – and more and more of it – every single day.

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Images.courtesy[digitalart]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

My H.E.A.L.T.H. plan – E for eating matters

ID-10082821.debspoonsEating matters to me, not only for my health and vitality, but also for my social interactions, for my sense of belonging and for participating in the celebrations of life. Unfortunately, over the past decades other reasons have clouded my judgement in choosing what is best for my long-term health and I had put on weight.

Earlier this year – once the pressure of the business and its sale lifted from my shoulders – I put my head up and looked around. I did not like what I saw. While I had my head down focussing on the crises I had been thrown into, the whole world had changed. Two-thirds of society had become overweight or obese. And I had joined them. I had gone from being ‘normal’ to being ‘normal’ – even though I had put on weight. I was still ‘normal’. I was ‘average’. I was one of the crowd. Yet I knew that, in this case, being normal (or average) and being overweight was not good for me. So I had this task ahead of me, to think of my weight in terms of ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’ rather than being ‘normal’ (or fat or thin). I had to think so highly of myself that I could cut through societal pressure to be ‘one of the gang’ when ‘the gang’ put the supposed pleasures of indulging in fine eating and drinking (all the time!) ahead of what is good for me. I had to break out of that thinking pattern.

This was a tough call, to change the way I thought about myself, to see myself as being ‘different’ from others and yet where I wanted to be – in the ‘healthy’ third of the population. To do that I had to take care of myself and I had to believe that I mattered enough to get there. This was a big step, to have a vision to become that person, to want to be that person, that healthy person, and do what was required to get there.

I formulated a plan to get me back into the healthy weight range. The plan included all aspects of my eating needs and my social interactions so it would not fail. It has become what I see as my sensible eating plan for life.

This is a summary of my H.E.A.L.T.H.plan for my own Eating matters:

Why
1. I eat for my good health, to establish and maintain myself in the healthy weight range, avoid obesity and the development (or at least delaying the onset) of the diseases of western society, in particular heart disease and diabetes.
2. For the enjoyment of connection with others and participation in celebrations.
3. As a response to hunger, not boredom, stress, reward, or prestige.

Who to consider
1. Me. In this space I am my first consideration. When on my own, I eat ultra-healthy foods.
2. When connecting with family, friends, colleagues; I eat mainly healthy foods and portion control moderately healthy foods.
3. I plan for any celebrations, allowing myself an indulgence or two.

When
1. I eat at planned mealtimes and take a break at those times. No excuses.
3. I always eat breakfast.
3. I schedule planned ‘mini-meals’, not impulsive snacks.
4. I eat an early dinner and avoid eating afterwards.

How
1. I eat sitting down and use a knife, fork, spoon or teaspoon (except healthy snacks).
2. I have full control over my eating. It does not control me.
3. I resist manipulation by food manufacturers.

Where
1. I eat at home, dining area at work or friends or a la carte restaurant/cafe.
2. I avoid fast-food restaurants, food swamps and impulse food snacks.
3. I never eat in my car, at my desk, in front of TV, or while walking.

What
1. I eat real food.
2. I drink water for thirst
3. I avoid drinking my calories/kilojoules.
4. I have the planned occasional indulgence of less healthy foods.

Which foods
1. I eat a balanced amount of core foods from the basic food groups.
2. I do not “diet” or avoid any food category such as carbs or fats.
3. I avoid the sixth good group (fatty foods, sweetened foods/drinks, junk food).

I am pleased to report that nine months after changing my approach to myself I reached my healthy goal weight, three months earlier than my aim. My blood lipid levels are extraordinarily very low, my blood glucose levels well within the normal range, and I am feeling fit, healthy and happy. Moreover I am enjoying connections with loved ones and at times of celebrations knowing that any eating indulgences at those times are within my healthy eating plan.

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Images.courtesy[debspoons]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My H.E.A.L.T.H. plan – H for headstrong.

ID-100239270.PrawnyAt the beginning of the year I wrote an initial post about how, in this first year of my new beginnings, I wanted to focus on me and getting my health and fitness to a level I was happy with. I devised a H.E.A.L.T.H. plan for myself of

Headstrong Eating and Active Lifestyle Transition Habits

My plan captures everything I want from life. Good health. Sensible eating. Becoming more active. A balanced lifestyle of self, family, stability, relaxation, social connections, career, creativity, home, celebrations, and community. I decided to give myself time to transition into my meaningful life, find my life’s purpose and form habits so I could do this for life!

The lapse in my writing has been that it has taken me a while to decide what the first ‘H’ would stand for. Now that I am seven months down the track I realize my plan began with devising it, thinking it through, and researching the best ways of becoming fit and healthy for my age and lifestyle. All that happened in my head – the logical part of me.

However, my head is also the part with little voices that sometimes do me undone. Those voices that say ‘what is the point’, ‘you have tried before and failed’, ‘you are not strong enough’, ‘you cannot fight your genetic make-up’ … and so on. There are also voices of other people and society-accepted norms pushing me into dietary or lifestyle choices that do not serve me well. I needed to find the strong voice inside me to counteract that which had previously dragged me down. I did that by creating a vision in my head of a healthy and fit me, and a prevention of diseases of affluence such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. I devised my own dietary and lifestyle plans with choices that would benefit me and lead me to my vision. I believed in those choices and became committed to my vision of a healthier me. That conviction was so strong that the voices within me also became strong – strong  enough that I no longer became swayed by others or unexpected events or my own inner negative voices that tried to pull me against my choices. I became strong enough to defend my choices.

So the first step on my road to better health began with my mind, creating my vision, devising a plan, committing to it, and developing a strong voice within me to persevere with my plan and defend my lifestyle choices.

My first step was to become headstrong.

My journey continues …

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Image.courtesy[Prawny]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

feeling intoxicated!

ID-100128413.africaI have been feeling Euphoric!

The taste of what true freedom means is beginning to seep into the essence of my being.
This began after the sale of the business and has continued to grow as I have gradually shut down all work commitments. Since my head has been clear of that part of me, I have been better able to see more clearly what my life will be like. For the very first time, I have been able to see my life as a single person and being able to build that life as I want to.

When I had the business to manage and the marital property settlement to contend with, I grieved not having a partner to lean on in the decision-making process of that period. It was tough going because for forty years I had always had someone beside me for previous big decisions. Having navigated that period by myself and succeeded in my resolve to ensure the business sale proceeded and the property settlement was fair and reasonable, I now have more confidence. I know that whatever event in life I am confronted with, I will have the courage to face it and survive. Moreover, I can climb to the top of the mountain!

With the business sold and marital settlement trudging over, there is now for me a lifting from my shoulders of a large weight and a somewhat delayed but nevertheless euphoric and triumphant ‘I have done it‘ beating of my fists into the air!

I am free. I am on my own and I am free. I do not have to compromise my time any more. I am free to adjust and adapt my time with myself and my loved ones and my contributions to society and my creative projects or whatever else I decide. How I distribute that time is mine alone to choose. And that feeling of being alone and single and being able to control my own time in its entirety is intoxicating.

 

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Image.courtesy[Africa]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

new transitions

1998-105Back on that bridge …

As I wrote in a recent post, I am again on my way from here to there, with life in transition. A transition is moving from one life chapter to the next such as transitioning from teenager to adult or from adult to retiree. We may also transition after a significant life event such as moving house; changing jobs; having children; coping with an illness, injury or disability; and navigating a financial or legal crises. Transitions involve four phases – holding on, letting go, taking on, then finally moving on.

The life ‘chapter’ or ‘event’ I have been through is the end of my marriage and relationship with my husband of 37 years. In my case of late-life divorce, there has not been this one simple life changing event for me. There have been several. The business sale has meant the end of my working life as I have known it and an identity crisis of its own merit. There has been a change in family dynamics, my social networks and community connections. There is my sunken financial situation to consider. I also intend to sell my home, move to a new area and forge ahead in a new career and lifestyle. That is a lot of changes over a few short years. Continue reading

Transmuting anger

“I have learnt through bitter experience the one supreme lesson to conserve my anger, and as heat is transmuted into energy, even so our anger controlled can be transmuted into a power that can move the world” Mahatma Gandhi

ID-10032230 I have written before that I find it difficult feeling, dealing with or expressing anger. I am not inherently an angry person and I hate confrontation. I am generally of a forgiving nature – perhaps too forgiving – and I am tolerant of other people’s up and down moods. However, I tend to put anger in a different category than a simple ‘mood’ and I am prone to associate anger with aggressive, toxic and hostile people.

So if ever I find myself becoming angry, it fills me with angst as I become concerned that I may be turning into an angry toxic person. Then, as I am reluctant to face my anger, my emotions start to twirl around in an uncontrollable fashion.

Having had to deal with a fair amount of anger over the past few years, I have come to realize that the feeling anger has a defensive form and it tends to be this defensive form that is the one that sometimes hits me. Usually it hits me in response to an aggressive action directed at me. In those circumstances my own anger that I feel has actually been the one emotion that is everything to do with defending my values.

Anger is my reactive emotion whenever I have perceived mistreatment, insult or malice. It is the feeling of anger that gives me a sense of justice, and to want to right wrongs. It is anger that leads me on to defend morality. For example, anger is the outrage I feel when I hear about child abuse, racism, mistreatment of women, rape or murder. From a personal perspective, it has been anger that has empowered me to do good in past causes that I have taken on such as the saving of wilderness areas, and fighting for free speech.

Anger is also the feeling that empowers me to become the best I can be. Anger has been the emotion behind my silent protest against what I initially saw as a reprehensible situation, on the collapse of my marriage. Anger planted within me an inner drive to get through the mess, survive and thrive. When I have felt utterly worthless and useless, anger has been the rebellious spirit within me fighting for feelings of self-worth, courage and dignity. Being energy-charged, anger has enabled me to keep going though all the turmoil, through all the mud. When I felt all the values I ever believed in had been violated, it was anger that gave me the drive to fight to maintain my own values, to keep believing in them, and to keep living by them – no matter what. Anger has kept me striving towards a life of moral principles to live by … and to keep doing what I believe is right.

Rather than try and bury anger, which I am prone to do, it is far better that I ask ‘what value do I feel has been violated that is making me feel this way?’ Then with a rightful indignation against the violation of that value, affirm within myself that I will never compromise that value and determine to keep living by that value’s code. Once that value within me is reaffirmed, the course of action out of turmoil into a land of peace and harmony becomes more obvious to me.

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This is a third post in a series on feeling my feelings.
# 1. Feeling my feelings
# 2. Recognizing my own feelings

Image.courtesy[Chrisroll]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Life around the corner

“Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.”               from Kindness, poem by Naomi Shihab Nye

ID-10052519.digitalartLife around the corner (that corner that I got to after I got out of the mud and went a little way down the path and found a bend in the road and I took it) is sunny and warm; with blue skies, green grass and kind friendly people having fun.

This has surprised me because they are the same people who were there before, when I was stuck in the mud, yet for some reason I failed to see their kindness, I did not notice their friendliness and I most certainly had no time to join in their fun.

OR …

Is it that I am acting more with kindness and friendliness to those people and they are responding to my warmth and opening their hearts. We are laughing, having fun together.

It wasn’t that I didn’t chat before, or I that I was unkind, or unfriendly; it was just that when I was in the mud I had to keep going or I would get stuck. I had to keep going and going and had no time for idle chit-chat. I could not extend a hand to help others because that may have pulled me under and make me sink. I had to protect myself from the storm clouds above, from the driving wind blowing in my face, and the mud below and ahead of me.  I was so busy protecting myself and looking down at the mud that I did not notice the people and their situations and their faces. Those people are people – just like me. Sometimes they have been in mud of their own, and sometimes not.

Now the road is clear and I am looking up at their faces.

I can hear their stories – of the young gentleman at the firm where I had my car serviced who did not like the atmosphere at his previous job; of the lady from whom I bought my new kitchen pots who has a husband who is unwell; and the twice-divorced receptionist at my lawyers with a 30 year old son whom she adores, yet is lonely living on her own.

I can see their friendliness – the doctor’s receptionist embracing yet joking about their new computer program; my hair-dresser encouraging me in a new style for my hair; the sales-lady in the department store offering colour suggestions for my clothes.

I can feel their kindness – of that same sales-lady taking me around the store to find some matching accessories; of the manager of the department store allowing me to take my time with my purchases and then escorting me down the lift (elevator) as it was a bit spooky being the only one left in a huge department store 45 minutes after closing time!

These are interactions I am having with people in my everyday life as I now have an everyday life. I am now doing everyday things – an annual doctor’s check (six months overdue), hair-cut (four months overdue), car service (two years overdue, so low was its priority), buying new pots instead of putting up with old ones with no handles, luxuriating in buying new clothes rather than wearing the same clothes day in and day out for four years; and attending to my own legal affairs after years and years of attending to joint affairs.

In life around the corner, I have time for everyday life and within that everyday life I have found kindness and friendliness. It is all around me, everywhere I look, flowing from the crucibles of human life stories, pouring forth for me to drink and quench my thirst.

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Image.courtesy[digitalart]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net