Tag Archives: divorce

More Thoughts after “Adaline”

walk-the-talk(image from twinlifemarketing.com.au)

God’s sometimes-ironic sense of humor was alive and well when I woke up this morning with the worst cold I’ve had in years. Right now my entire face is throbbing, everything is clogged and I have a “case of the miserables.” Hmmm, how to walk last night’s talk today when all I want to do is curl under a blanket and binge-watch “Frasier”? 

Of course there is nothing wrong with taking a sick day or two. However, I felt compelled to not give into that just yet. (I’ll probably succumb in an hour or two.) I have too long a history of emotional epiphanies only to see them vaporize the next day when hardship comes my way. How many diets have ended on a Monday evening or Tuesday morning? 😉 (Which is partially why “Always we begin again” is so helpful to me.) I did not want today to be like that. 

So with clogged ears, and a throbbing head, I got back in touch with how I felt as I left the theater a couple of evenings ago. I thought again about my “age” and what it means to have a “dash” to live out. 

And all sorts of thoughts started to swirl in me about how worth and value isn’t in what we DO but who we ARE so putting too much emphasis on performance and productivity can be harmful. And I certainly don’t want to convey to anyone out there who struggles with something like chronic illness or depression that they need to “snap out of it” and “get moving.” That is so not what I’m trying to say. That swirl was followed by remembering a recent conversation I had with someone about “faith without works is dead.” Ah, the paradox…the both-and…AGAIN.

All I can say is that I feel that I’m in some kind of corrective place. My life had gotten out of balance and I wasn’t even aware of it until God used this lovely little movie to get me thinking about how I spend my days. Adaline had to keep running from being found out…she could never “bloom where she was planted.” And there’s the rub — she was given an eternity of days but couldn’t actually LIVE. I’ve been given a finite number of days and have the opportunity to live life to the full. Even in the midst of divorce. Even in the midst of deep grief. Even in the midst of my own chronic conditions.

So…little steps that got me moving — I tidied up my bedroom then decided to tackle a small but important project for church. (I learned how to embed a video into PowerPoint. Huzzah!) Wound up having a lovely IM chat with a friend, supporting each other through some difficult things. In and of themselves, they aren’t much to write about (hello more irony), but it’s all part of the notion of moments connecting with moments to get me out of myself and live into the “dash.” 

And there’s something in this about hope, too. As I live in “Saturday” I can hold onto hope, and part of doing that is not giving up or giving in to sloth, worry, or escapism (among other things). It’s an act of faith, and an act of hope, to do something, anything, when I feel beaten down by life, grief, and/or a nasty virus. 

Sometimes it’s hard for me to see the obvious, and sometimes I need a smack on the head to wake me up. However, this time God chose to open my eyes in such a beautiful and gentle way. Grateful for this mercy undeserved.

I still want to see the movie again, to help solidify some of these thoughts and to see if there is more to glean. Once my ears unclog, that is.

 

 

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The Age of Nina

adaline-better(image from thewrap.com)

Last night I saw the film “The Age of Adaline” and was so moved by it that I’m going to see it again tomorrow. Perhaps I should wait until then to write about it, but there is so much swirling in my soul that I want to put fingers to keyboard today while things are still fresh. (Perhaps a Part Two with further reflections will come after the second viewing. We shall see.)

For anyone who hasn’t yet seen the film, there won’t be any spoilers here. The premise has been made clear in the trailers — a woman (Adaline) has something happen to her which causes her to never age. That’s it, in a nutshell. However, the complexities of this condition are played out in the film with such poignancy and grace, that at times I found myself holding my breath. I became completely absorbed in the story as I entered this woman’s world and her struggles with remaining young while her daughter ages, and time moves on. She lives through decade after decade, the same age. Her hairstyles and fashions change with the times, but nary a wrinkle or gray hair. 

There are some twists and turns which I won’t share, but it all got me to thinking about the life we are given. We’re all given an “age” — a span of time with which to live out our days. I remember my brother-in-law once commented on how tombstones show the dates of birth and death with a dash in between, but what REALLY matters is “what happened in the dash.” (Thanks, Russ!) We do not know how long our “dash” will be. Adaline had to contend with being an anomaly who will never die. For the rest of us, our days are numbered. 

The movie made me take a closer look at how I spend my time, what things I focus on, and if I’m making a bit of difference on this planet during my “dash.” Am I taking care of myself in body, soul, and spirit so that I can live a long, healthy, and meaningful life?

Not lately.

The last three months have been particularly difficult ones as I’ve been in a place of deep grief which has consumed most of my energy. My resolve to eat healthily and exercise regularly pretty much flew out the window after I moved when I began to feel the pain of leaving our home and the loss in knowing we would never have a home together again. Adjusting to living in someone else’s house has been hard. Trying to sort through all of the emotions of the divorce while our 30th anniversary looms ahead has been really hard. And while I talk a good talk about sitting in “Saturday” (HERE and HERE) I fall prey to escapism just like everyone else…binge-watching Netflix, binge-eating ice cream; numbing the pain when it becomes too hard to bear; spiritual practices going by the wayside, my Bible reading plan stalled and gratitude journal often going untouched for days on end.

As I walked out of the theater last night, I pondered the last three months and what rose up in me was, “No more!” I had become so focused on whatever I was feeling in the moment that I had lost sight of the big picture, the long view, my “age,” my “dash.” I had gotten stuck in a pit and realized it’s time to climb out.

Now I believe it is important to be fully present in the present, for that is where God’s presence is. I am a big believer in feeling the feelings as you feel them; cry hard and laugh hard. Metabolizing emotions is so important for mental and physical health. BUT…I can get so bogged down in the moment that I forget how continuing certain disciplines and practices even in the midst of the pain will only increase the healing. The short term effort will reap big results, but I lose sight of this when I am consumed with rage and sadness. Easier to turn off the alarm and roll over and sleep another two hours instead of getting out of bed and going for a walk. Easier to drive through for fast food than make a healthy dinner. So much easier to flip on the TV and numb out than to sit quietly in God’s presence and pray and feel…and heal.

Of course there is grace; I’m not expecting myself or anyone else to be perfect here. But Adaline’s plight caused me to take stock of where I am right now and I came up short. No condemnation — thanks be to God! —  only a newfound appreciation of the gift of TIME, of the moments, days, weeks, months, and years of my “dash.” I don’t want to waste any of it. 

So this morning, even though I was emotionally exhausted from weeping right before bed and my body felt awful from both the emotional stress and all the sugar I’d eaten the day before, I thought of how I felt yesterday after the movie and I remembered I only have a finite number of days. So I went for a walk and prayed. I came home and made a healthy smoothie. I spent time meditating on God’s goodness, even with body, soul, and spirit all in pain.

And I thought, “This is the abundant life.” It’s not happy-skippy but it is FULL and GOOD. I had an important meeting to go to in the afternoon where I knew I needed to be present and offer whatever I could to help bring some resolution to a sticky situation. I also needed to reach out and care for my son who’s across the country on an adventure that didn’t start out too well. I needed to be able to be present to others while being present to God and myself. (Ah…the old upward/outward/inward journey!) No matter the pain. No matter the internal struggle. It was a good day. And as i wrap it up, I realize I had very few moments of escaping. I want more days like these. I pray they will add up, one by one, into a really good “age” and a long, fruitful “dash.” 

Thanks, Adaline.

Everything Must Go!

let-it-go1(image from amzlove.wordpress.com)

I had a yard sale yesterday, something millions of people do across America every weekend. As I watched the crowd rummage through and purchase the many things my son and I laid out (in organized fashion, I might add) in the front yard, I entered a deeper grief. I was watching my life being dismantled; my former life, anyway. Twenty-nine years of married life, of family life, being sold off, one tchotchke at a time…one gift-to-him-from-me, one gift-to-me-from-him at a time. A lifetime of memories, sold mostly for a buck or less to perfect strangers looking for a bargain.

The toughest moment was when someone bought the entire box of Christmas ornaments we’d collected over the years; one ornament for each Christmas we were together, from 1985 through 2013. I loved hanging those on the tree every year, watching the collection grow, and wondering what our tree would be like when we were old and had 60+ of those special ornaments. Instead, the collection stopped at 29 and will now be hung on someone else’s tree, commemorating birthdays instead of a marriage.

The man buying the ornaments was excited to give them to his daughter, and I smiled through my tears as I took his money…breathed deeply as I watched him walk away with a box of our history, sold for $5. Such a deal.

When the sale was winding down, with just about everything sold, my son hugged me and encouraged me that all of this was going to open up opportunities for other dreams to come true, that the end of one thing is the beginning of something else, and that I would discover new dreams in my new life. As if to confirm his words, this quote was on Facebook this morning, posted by my friend Sally Ann

“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, 
so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
– E.M. Forester

I just wish it didn’t hurt so much. 

I took a walk, had a good cry, and then came inside and counted the money…over $550 dollars to put toward moving into my new life. Not a bad haul. It will pay for the U-Haul next weekend and the food to feed my friends who are coming to help me move across town. The rest will go toward moving to SoCal in the spring. 

Kind of poetic how the proceeds from the old are funding the beginning of the new.

I just wish it didn’t hurt so much.

This Year It’s “Gal-entine’s Day”

8465711750_d0b8af7ef5(image from alifeworthsomething.wordpress.com)

I didn’t know until recently that this was a thing — February 13 has become “Galentine’s Day,” a day for women to celebrate their friendships with each other, whether they are married, single, or somewhere in between. But I decided to skip the official day and make today, the 14th, MY Galentine’s Day.

V-Day has been problematic for me from the beginning. I lived in the pre-PC days where you didn’t have to bring cards for everyone in the class. I would always get cards from boys I didn’t like. (Once I received a homemade one that clearly took the kid hours, but I was 10 and he had cooties. I wish I could go back and appreciate the effort more. Morgan, if you’re out there, thank you. You deserved better.) And of course I wouldn’t get cards from the ones I liked/loved.

Then there was freshman year in college when so many girls on my floor got dozens of red roses delivered. None for me. *sigh* It’s funny, but 364 days of the year, red roses do little for me — I prefer yellow, lavender, fire-and-ice — but on Feb. 14, they need to be red. Or at least one red rose tucked in among the others. (Is this really all that complicated?)

Fast forward many years later, and V-Day became the source of some very deep pain which is not fit for public consumption. After fumbling around and adding salt to the wounds for several years, we talked last year about creating our own version of V-Day on Feb. 26 (the date of our engagement) and skipping the dreaded 14th. 

Nice idea, but it never happened.

This year, newly single, I decided to take the bull by the horns. I could wallow in all the disappointing V-days gone by, and/or wallow in being alone this year, or I could make this a day worth remembering. First thing I did was call the Children’s Hospital in Oakland and find out what I could do to help. What they really needed were cards, so I faced my V-day demons and went shopping for some boxes of cards for the kids. I hope they put a smile on the kids’ faces today. 

In a little while, I’m going to be getting the deluxe treatment at Cosmo Spa Lounge, with their “Rehab Mani-Pedi” which includes the usual stuff plus scrubs and hot towels and lotions and massage. (Oh my!) I’ll probably add a paraffin dip on my hands as it helps the arthritis feel better. What puts this over the top is that my Godparents (new name for my in-laws) are treating me to this. I’m not sure if there’s ever been kinder, more thoughtful gesture.

Then this evening, I’m having a few single gals over for my first Galentine’s party. We will range from mid-20s to me. 🙂 I’ve gotten used to be the oldest in the room, and these gals keep me young. With no men around, I figured some kind of beef was in order (*giggle*) and since I haven’t eaten any red meat in over a month, this will be a treat. (London Broil Caesar Salad to the rescue!) And chocolate truffles, of course. 

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(I made these and there’s hardly any sugar; I blended 70% and 85% cacao (organic chocolate) with healthy coconut oil and coconut milk instead of butter and cream. The darkest ones are boozy with Grand Marnier and rolled in a little brown sugar which has dissolved into the chocolate. Do I know how to party or what?)

We’ll eat, be merry, maybe even watch a chick flick or two. And celebrate womanhood and friendship…

…and the love of Jesus, who is truly the BEST Valentine there is. Like the song says, “Your love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me.”  I’m focusing on THAT today more than anything! Along with “I am my Beloved’s and He is mine…”

Whatever you’re doing or not doing today, know that YOU ARE LOVED.

you-are-loved(image from elephantjournal.com)

Another Day in Limbo?

images(Image from http://diaryofaresidencywidow.blogspot.com.)

I’ve been rethinking this whole notion of being in limbo. The above graphic sums up what so many of us feel when we are in transition, between what was and what hasn’t happened yet. There is some truth to this, of course, but my current thoughts are that we are ALWAYS in this state of limbo. It’s just an illusion of control to think we have “arrived” anywhere. There’s always something new around the corner, plus we never know when some kind of tragedy or crisis will strike that will change the trajectory of our lives forever.

As Christians, we often talk about “the now and the not yet” — the Kingdom of God is both at hand and is yet to come. So essentially, we’re always in limbo here on earth. But does that mean we’re stuck in some kind of barren wasteland? Of course not. We’re on a journey — we often call it a “walk” — with Jesus, and will be until we see Him face to face. And even then, I believe there will be all sorts of new adventures for us!

So I’m choosing to reframe this time in my life. I don’t know what I want to call it, but I’m not calling it “limbo.” I’m still on my journey, walking with Jesus, and we’ve taken an interesting detour where I have no idea what the future holds at all. People ask me questions to which I have no answers — When are you moving? Where will you live? What will you do for work? Will you remarry? No idea on all fronts. But what I *do* know is that I don’t need to know any of those things today.

I am more than grateful for how the Lord has helped me in the past 18 months become much more focused on each day as it comes and not think so much about what’s ahead. When I stay present in the now, then each day is very rich and beautiful and challenging and offers me so many opportunities for growth. If I focus too much on the past or the future, then suddenly “now” becomes where I wish I wasn’t; but since God is present in the present, then what I’m essentially saying is I don’t want to be where God is.

*thud*

So no more limbo. Any ideas for what to call it instead?

P.S. Thanks to Mark Heard for the song “Another Day in Limbo.” Listen HERE.

Soundtrack

 

il_fullxfull.370605713_e6kl When we moved to Alameda from Tucson nearly four years ago, we brought with us three boxes of CDs. I was slower to get on the digital music bandwagon than the rest of the family, but I did eventually jump on. When we moved, I planned to upload all of the CDs to iTunes “soon.”

Well…here I am, with another move before me, and I’ve had to face the reality that I never got around to the uploading project. So today I’m sitting at my dining table, with CDs stacked and spread out in front of me, determined to get this done so I won’t have to lug those three boxes with me again.

I’ve been dividing the CDs into categories — “mine,” “his,” and “his that I want to listen to.” The process of doing this, which involves looking at each CD and checking iTunes to make sure it hasn’t already been uploaded, is a very bittersweet one; it’s like I’m looking at the soundtrack of our lives over the past three decades. Some CDs make me smile, others bring a tear. I’m sighing a lot.

I don’t know how long it will be before I can listen to certain songs by the Beatles; “I Will” being at the top of that list. The tall stack of Beatles CDs takes me right back to September of 2000 when, for his 40th birthday, I bought him as many CDs of the Fab Four as I could find on sale (even finding one in Swedish, but I haven’t unearthed that yet).

This project, like so much of my life right now, embraces both holding on and letting go. The challenge is to discern which to do, and with what and when. It requires being fully present in the moment and to be mindful of what I’m feeling, thinking, and experiencing, and then to make the best decision I can from there.

As bittersweet as the project is, it is providing me with the wonderful gift of fine tuning my awareness of what I want and need in the present moment, as well as the awareness of the various emotions I am feeling all at once. I’m able to sit and be still, feel my feet on the floor, my rear in the chair, and know that I am anchored and OK.

And I know God is right here with me, catching every tear and receiving every prayer.

 

 

 

And We Begin Again…

AWBA_logo_final_gate_JPEG_8-15-14-2 2(image from myawba.blogspot.com)

I didn’t want to start this entry with “I can’t believe it’s been nine month since I’ve blogged” because that just seems so banal. But it’s true and real, and so…yeah, it’s really been that long.

To offer reasons would take way too much time and energy, so I will share some bullet points of what has transpired since I wrote in May 2014 and you’ll know enough of why I haven’t been around for awhile:

• On June 7, Glenn and I celebrated our 29th anniversary at a delightful former hippie compound by the ocean. It start out as a non-anniversary trip because we were in a not-so-good place. But we wound up celebrating in the end, clinking glasses at a restaurant and saying, “Happy Anniversary! We’re still here!”
• At the beginning of August, we separated for two months with no contact.
• At the end of August, I completed a year-long certification process to become a spiritual director.
• In mid-September Glenn let me know he was not coming home after the separation was over.
• At the end of September a friend gave me the most wonderful trip to the Washington coast. It helped me process the inevitable. If you ever need to get away, go to La Push, WA!!! And try to go when there will be a clear sky at night; I have never seen so many stars in the Northern Hemisphere!
• Glenn filed for divorce in October.
• Survived — no, THRIVED — during the holidays with the help of God, friends, and family. (I thought about blogging through Advent but couldn’t quite get up the energy.) Was probably the most meaningful Advent season yet.
• Spent my first New Year’s Eve alone and enjoyed the peace and quiet; felt really good about how 2015 was beginning…
• …only to have my gut punched (emotionally) which sent me reeling for the remainder of January.
• Made the decision to move out of my place at the end of February and move in with friends.
• Made the decision to move to southern CA (Orange County) sometime in May or June.

A lot is ending, and much is beginning. As I prune away the deadwood from my life, new growth is revealed, and I am focusing on taking very good care of that growth. While I have much grieving to do — emotional health requires it, and a 29-year marriage is worthy of some honor — I also am rejoicing in the blessings of my life, and all of the possibilities that lie ahead.

I have a hard time journaling with pen and paper these days…too hard on these arthritic hands which are also plagued with fibromyalgia. I find blogging to be a helpful outlet, and if what I share can help someone else get through a tough day/month/season, then it’s worth the effort to cut open a vein.

Brené Brown talks about being willing to “get in the ring” and be vulnerable. Today I am making that choice, during what has been named one of the most stressful events a person can experience. Divorce is second only to the death of a loved one, though most people in my situation will tell you that it often feels like it would be easier if the person had died, because at least then it wouldn’t have been a choice. Unless it was suicide. But I digress… (PLEASE do not interpret that as saying I wish he were dead!) Of course moving is also in the top five stressors; might as well get it all over with at once, eh?

If my small audience is still around, sorry to have been gone for so long. I welcome your company on this journey of starting over…again.

I can’t wait to give Benedict a hug when I get to Heaven, and thank him for all the wisdom that was packed into his little phrase. I’m still pondering getting it tattooed on my arm.