Five Faces of Divorce

© Valentina75 | Dreamstime.com - Lunar Phases Photo

Sometimes when things are falling apart, they may actually be falling into place.

-Unknown

Yesterday, I saw five different faces of women going through different phases of divorce. In each of them, I saw something different reflected back to me. They are listed here in the order in which I faced them yesterday.

First-up is a woman in her early 80’s whose face shows me that one can survive, even thrive, after the end of her marriage. Although she and I have worked closely together for several months, it was just yesterday that she revealed to me her story of marriage and divorce. Her story reveals that things can get better. She is my face of thriving after divorce.

Second up is a woman who just this week filed for divorce. She has not yet told her husband. Although she is calm in her decision, in her face and her story I see the fear of the unknown: How can I afford this? How is he going to behave towards me? Where am I going to live? How am I going to do this? Where am I going to get the support I need to move forward?” For me, hers is the face of change and fear covered by a thin veneer of strength and fortitude.

The third woman is just now starting to see the cracks in the vessel of her marriage. She is feeling burnt out. Yet she is spending so much of her energy into “keeping it all together” that she is not putting any energy into herself nor into changing her situation. Her hands shake nervously as she thinks about all of the things she has to do. She has two young children and to her right now leaving her husband is not even a thought that has crossed her conscious mind. If she has thought about leaving, it has been met with much resistance and denial. She is the face of the status quo for me. This is a face that I knew all too well just over a year ago.

The fourth woman is closer to my age and has been divorced for a few years now. She is starting to date and to realize that there is life after divorce. Her life story is similar to mine in many ways. In fact, some of the things she told me were things that I was able to predict based on my own experiences. Together, we shared the bittersweet stories of our marriages, the fears we have faced and the freedoms we have experienced. She shows me that this too shall pass. Hers is the face of perseverance for me.

The final woman’s insecurities have surfaced after meeting and talking with four other women, in the same day, about their marriages and divorces. The final woman’s face is the one I see when I look in the mirror. The smile that usually lights her face can no longer hide her pain. In her eyes I see fear, insecurities and her vulnerabilities.

This woman is afraid to let go of the “Norman Rockwell” images of a whole happy family living under one roof. Her move is less than two weeks away, yet she sits frozen in fear, guilt and shame. She fears the perceived “damage” it will do to her children. Perhaps this is why she moves in fits and starts.

Yet among all of this, there is a familiar sparkle in her eye. It is here that she holds the vision of the many freedoms that lie before her. There is strength in her frame. There is power in her stride. Even though inside she feels broken, deep down she knows that she is whole. It is now that she begins the process of rebirth. She is shedding her skin so that she can begin again. Hers is the face of trepidation with the determination to move forward; to blaze a new trail.

Namaste.

Photo Credit: © Valentina75 | Dreamstime.comLunar Phases Photo

Pro-Peace AND Pro-Military: The seeming contradiction

Military Salute

To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.

George Washington

I love guns. Big guns, tanks, armored vehicles and war machinery; the bigger the better. I love fighter jets, warships and the military. Special forces, yep, you guessed it I’m a fan. Those who serve often put everything on the line for our freedom.

Since I was a little girl, I have “geeked out” on wars and many things military. In fact for several of my teen years, I wanted to be a pilot in the Air Force. My dream was to fly the SR-71 Blackbird (I mean, who doesn’t want to travel at Mach 3 plus?). This dream lasted until the Tailhook scandal rocked the country 2 years before I would have joined the Air Force. Hearing the daily reports on the local news of the details of the scandal ended my desire to sign-up. However, I still enjoy going to air shows and still passionately support the military. Even getting into arguments on Veterans’ Day last year.

At the same time, war is something that I do not inherently like to see. It is not my desire to see others suffer. In fact, I seek out peace for myself and everyone on this planet. I do my best to find peace in every situation. I also do my best to bring as much peace to any situation as I can. However, I have been known to stand defiantly and defend my territory (I am a mother, after all, and most mothers I know have a mother bear in her somewhere).

So how does this love for war and military might exist simultaneously in the same person who is pro-peace? Someone who believes in and does her best to follow the principles of lovingkindness also supports the military.  How is that? This has been perplexing even to me, until recently.

© Kolaczan | Dreamstime.com - Peace Sign Photo

© Kolaczan | Dreamstime.com – Peace Sign Photo

Power and Protection

The power of the military appeals to me. It shows the strength of individuals working together in groups. A bundle of twigs is stronger than an individual twig. The forest is mightier than the individual tree in hurricane-force winds.

The military protects us, our freedoms and our rights. Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen put everything on the line to keep us safe. Their lives, limbs, health, sanity, overall well-being, marriages/relationships and often seeing their children grow up are all often “up for grabs.” As a civilian, I can only guess as to how much affects those who serve and their families.

Warriors

I have a great respect for those who follow their passions. Add to this a willingness to serve and protect others just “ups the ante.” Warriors are those who face their fears head on; going where most others would gladly flee. Those who train, bleed and sweat to prevent the bloodshed and suffering of others are warriors, whether on the front-lines or not. Those who espouse this warrior spirit gain a higher level of respect in my book.

Inner conflict

One could argue that wars between nations are the outward expression of the inner conflict of each person on this planet. As long as we fight within ourselves, we will fight outside of ourselves with others as well. As long as we believe there is “not enough” or that we are not safe, we will continue to have wars.

Yang & Balance

All things must be balanced. The military represents the hard vs the soft, the masculine vs the feminine, the yang vs the yin, the aggressive vs the passive, the structure vs the void. The function of the yang military is to protect the yin of those who need protection. Thus the military provides the balance.

~~~~~

So maybe it is not so contradictory that I can hold peace in one hand and support the military in the other.  Both hands and both beliefs are part of me. The desire for peace means I must also be willing to fight, to go to battle, for that which I believe. I believe it is my duty to be free. The more freedom I experience in my heart, the more freedom I have to experience the truth of who I am. So I am grateful for the military protecting our freedoms, so that I can learn to experience said freedom more and more within myself.

Thank you to all who serve, who have served and who will serve. Without you, we would not have the myriad of freedoms that we have today; both as individuals and as a country. May peace be with you all, as you continue to sacrifice to protect the freedoms of others, even those who do not support what you do. I also pray that peace be with you as I know many are haunted by what they have seen, and maybe even done, in the name of Freedom.

Namaste.

Photo Credits:

© Vectomart | Dreamstime.comAmerican Soldier Standing With American Flag Photo

© Kolaczan | Dreamstime.comPeace Sign Photo

Overcoming emotional turmoil

My Dearest Friend,

Overcoming emotional turmoil is about knowing that we are stronger than our emotions.  As children we are taught to fear our emotions,  to push them down,  aside,  away… anywhere but here, maybe we’ll deal with this later, we were taught. This gives away our power to what we are feeling, and we then become slaves to our emotions.

The truth is that by sitting with what we’re feeling makes us stronger.  Breathing,  crying,  trembling, as we’re feeling what we’re feeling – and feeling it fully – is walking through the shadow of death.  It feels like death.  It is not death. It is merely a shadow.

Holding and loving ourselves mentally and even physically as we would love a child who has a scraped knee; while we feel our feelings quells the pain of the emotions.  It’s like riding a wave.  It will rise up in a crest, and that’s when we most feel like we cannot handle it. That is precisely when we most need to keep riding, because like the wave it then crashes.  Have faith that others have survived the wave.  Have faith that you can, too.

My dearest friend,  know that you are far more resilient than your feelings.  By pushing them away, they only become more scary. Like the shadows in the dark, when you turn on the light and look at them, you will see that the scary shadow no longer exists.   See the shadows for what they are: mere illusions. These shadows are not you.  You are not your emotions.  Love yourself while you ride the emotional waves and turn on the lights.  You are worthy of love. You are worthy of loving you.

Sometimes these emotions can pop up at the seemingly most inopportune times.  Ride their wave as much as you can.  Like our phyical muscles, our emotional muscles must be strengthened through repeated overloading.  Build your strength. Strengthen your emotional resiliency.  Ride more waves. Love yourself more deeply.

These are the keys to open your cage.  There can be many layers and sometimes it can feel like they are endless.  Sometimes it feels like you’ve already done this (This, again?!) Keep riding and keep turning on the light.  Keep loving and being gentle with yourself.

Just because others have not loved you the way you needed to be loved does NOT make you unlovable, broken, or unworthy. They couldn’t love you for you because they didn’t know how to love themselves for themselves. No one taught them, either!

So my love, love you for all of you. Even the “shadows,” turn on the light and love. You will see that the shadows are where you were taught to fear yourself. The shadows hide your strengths, your gifts, your greatest contributions to the world. Fear them, not.

My dearest friend, the magic is in you loving and accepting yourself for yourself.  This is the alchemy. This is the turning of coal into gold.

Go forth with your light on.  Be your Golden self. Love you.  Hold your inner child close, do for her what no one else has.  Love her. Fully.  I know you and I know you can do this.

In Love, Light & Faith,

Tiffany

P.S. When you fall in  “just keep swimming,” and get back on top of that wave!

Namaste.

Photo credit: © Willyambradberry

Landslide: A year of transformations

reflecting

One year ago today I started working at my current job. That one move has led to a cascade of major changes that has resulted in an amazing year of transformations for me.

Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?

Can the child within my heart rise above?

Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?

Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Well, I’ve been afraid of changing

‘Cause I’ve built my life around you

But time makes you bolder

Even children get older

And I’m getting older too

-Stevie Nicks

A year ago, this song brought me to tears. It was this time last year that I began to realize how unhappy I was in my life. This song played EVERYDAY during the week that I decided to ask my husband of 14 years for a divorce.

I have found that the changes that I started to make before the divorce discussion supported me in that decision and in coping with my life on a daily basis in a more healthy way. These self-care items have helped me to free myself from my self-imposed prison.

(Note: my soon-to-be-ex-husband did not imprison me, it was I who did it to myself.)

What have I changed in my life over the last year?

  • Mindset: I no longer feel life is “out to get me”  or that I am a victim in need of protection.
  • Courage: to change, to run, to do things that scare me and to step outside of my comfort zone to get what I want.
  • Myers-Briggs Personality Profile: from INFJ to ENFP
  • Routines & habits: daily meditations and near daily mantras. healthier eating, running, working out.
  • Body: I’ve lost >40 pounds, and I am more in shape now that I was 20 years ago!
  • Wardrobe.
  • Car: From a cramped Toyota Prius to a freed Jeep Wrangler
  • Haircut.
  • My Tribe, I’ve found it! 
  • Living and custody arrangements.
  • Relationship status: Separated and soon to be divorced
  • Blog: A return to writing.
  • Job: from Home Health PT with a Hospice emphasis to outpatient with a focus on Womens’ Health and Multiple Sclerosis.

Needless to say, in the last year I have walked through the flames of the spiritual foundry and have come out a stronger, healthier and happier person. I feel free to be me. I feel free to experience life to its fullest. I am so excited about who I am and who I am becoming.

So how did I do all of this, you ask? Through the willingness to look at myself, my life and my choices and to choose the path that brings me the most happiness. Life unfolds before us according to our choices from the past. By choosing differently than I had in the past, a new set of possibilities opened up before me. By looking closely at the “crap” that I had believed, I was then able to choose differently.

Further change was invoked through the willingness to be who I want to be and to follow my soul’s direction. This was helped through the use of daily meditation, self-care and movement on all levels: spiritual, physical, mental and emotional.

I believe that you can do this, too! By choosing to do things differently, even if in just one aspect of your life, you can change your path. You can change your life. It just takes the willingness to step outside of your comfort zone. Even if it’s just a little change, take that first step. Embrace the possibilities!

Namaste.

Photo credit: © Nielshariot | Dreamstime.com – Woman Looking At Self Reflection In Mirror Photo

The Worst Patient Ever

hurt hip

Ambition…the original of vices; Mother of hypocrisy, parent of envy, engineer of deceit.
-Ernest Hemingway

As a physical therapist I work with patients who are recovering from injuries on a daily basis. So why is it that after I started having hip pain that I act as if I know nothing?  Having been a PT for 9 years, I could easily be applying what I have learned to myself. So why don’t I?

Though I have effectively stopped running, I do not seem to be doing for myself what I would do for a patient. When I work with a patient with hip pain, I perform a comprehensive examination that includes checking for any spinal, pelvic and leg imbalances on both the affected and non-affected sides as the area of symptoms is rarely the source of the problem. Movement analysis is an important part of the exam to find any poor movement patterns. Patients also receive a good dose of education about minimizing pain-provoking activities while maximizing therapeutic or non-painful activities.

Patients often obsess about what they cannot do. Yep, you guessed it, I’m guilty! It seems that my desire to return to running – now, yesterday, last (freaking) week – has resulted in me looking for more and more races that I want to do. Why am I torturing myself this way?

So for all of the work and effort that I put into helping others, why is it that with my recovery that I seem to throw (most of) what I know out the window?

Part of me wants to believe that because I am a runner, an “athlete,” that my recovery can somehow look drastically different from others. This means that early I pushed myself into pain when I tried to run a 5K soon after the pain began (I walked the last 2.1 of the 3.1 miles),

Part of me is impatient as heck and just wants what I want. I do not want to wait. I want to run. I need to run. And I want to do it, now! That part of me is seeking a miracle fix that would help to throw the curve and heal faster. I have asked athletic trainers, exercise physiologists and other physical therapists for advice in trying to find the holy grail that will allow me to run again sooner, faster, now, yesterday, last week!

(In writing this, it also occurs to me that I have a very strong tendency to rebel against what I am told I cannot do…ouch!)

So even as a physical therapist, I really am no different from any of my patients both in my need to recover and in my current behaviors. Just like I tell my patients, I need to allow myself to heal and get better. As like anyone, my body needs the space, the rest and the time to recover. The truth is that no one has a secret. Not them. Not me. For me to be better, I just need to be patient, be a “good” patient, breathe, do my exercises and let things be. To heed my own advice would be helpful!

Namaste.

Photo Credit: © Melodija | Dreamstime.comCool Gel Pack On A Swollen Hurting Hip. Photo

Mantras to lighten your load

Om
-The Universe

Mantras are phrases that can be very useful in helping us to reprogram our minds and our lives. Our reality is based on our perception of it. So by repeating a key phrase, we are able to cleanse or clear our perceptions to help us to see more clearly. Mantras can also be seen as prayers, which are often said to different aspects of The Creator.

“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”

-William Blake

My personal preference is to use ancient mantras that are said in Sanskrit. I find that it causes me to focus a little bit more. There also seems to be some magic to what has been used for many years, almost like a pre-blazed trail to send prayers to The Creator.

Here are some of my favorite mantras that I am currently using daily. Translations are taken from Mind Body Green, while the uses listed are my own. 

Om Namah Shivaya

Translation: “I Honor the Divinity within myself,” Mind Body Green.

Uses: This mantra can be very useful to improve confidence and self-esteem. I have found it to be very helpful when I am feeling anxious, particularly when facing a decision. This is a prayer to the God-aspect of Shiva, the creator and the destroyer. Destruction of that which no longer serves is often needed as a catalyst for change for something better.

Om Gan Ganapataye Namo Namah

Translation:  “I pray for blessings and protection,” from Mind Body Green.

Uses: I use this mantra when I feel that there is an obstacle in my way; which is often my own ego. Ganesha is the remover of obstacles and this is a prayer to this aspect of God.

Lokah Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu

Translation: “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all,” from Mind Body Green.

Uses: I use this one for general happiness and well-being. I use this the most when I am working with a patient whom I find challenging. In fact, I have this incantation written on one of my folders that I often use when I am working with my more emotionally challenging patient populations.

Technique

It is recommended that you repeat the mantra 108 times. Mala, or prayer bead necklaces, have 108 beads that can help to keep track of your repetitions. Mala bracelets are smaller and have fewer beads, requiring more rounds depending on the number of beads.

I often perform my mantras after my daily meditation, so that my mind is more clear. However, I also perform the mantras throughout my day when I find fear, anxiety or fatigue begin to creep in. At night when I have difficulty sleeping is another great time to do them.

While I have a tendency to perform the mantras most when I am feeling troubled, I do my best to remember to perform them when things are going well, also.

If you find that the mantras above do not resonate with you, I recommend that you find others that do. A quick “innerweb” search for mantras can get you started.  Or you could make up your own. Mantras, I find,  work best when I am in alignment (even if it’s just a little) with their message.

It is my hope that you also adopt the habit of using mantras. For me, it has been life-altering. 

Keep calm and mantra on!

Namaste.

Photo Credit: © Thefinalmiracle | Dreamstime.com – OM Lamps Photo

I kissed a girl (and I did not like it): On being a hetero woman

ID-100282146

I kissed a girl just to try it…
– Katy Perry

Yes, I did kiss a girl “just to try it.” Once. It was in College and at that time I realized that while I can find people of any gender attractive, I am sexually attracted to men. Though it would seem that being bi-sexual or bi-curious would “open up the field” of possibilities for me, I do not see myself being in more than a friendship with a woman. I just prefer the strength, the virility, and hardness of a man. Breasts are squishy and, outside of my own, they do not appeal to me.

The challenge for me is that I do not always look very feminine. My hair is a messy bob most of the time. Rarely do I wear make-up (though I do prefer “statement” lipstick when I do). At 5’9″, I do not wear heels much and instead I wear “comfortable shoes.” My Chaco hiking flip flops are my favorite shoes to wear. It does not help that my clothes are often simple: jeans and a t-shirt. Oh, and further complicating matters is that I love my new “tac” hat with a removable, reversed and muted American military-style flag patch on the front. This seems to paint the stereotypical picture of a woman who prefers to date women, not men. For me, this could not be further from the truth as I like the look and feel of men.

This picture of me is further complicated by my recent purchase of a masculine 6-speed manual 4×4 trail-rated 16″ wheeled Jeep Wrangler; one that I’m really looking forward to getting muddy. While I did not buy the lifted Wrangler that I wanted with the front winch, flood lights, snorkel and camo seat covers, it is still more masculine than the Toyota Prius I traded in for it.  So now we just might have a problem with further deepening of the masculine-female image.

When I joked with friends that I needed to get a bumper sticker for the Jeep that said something like, “This chick likes to drive stick” to insinuate my sexual preference for men, some of my friends started making suggestions about how to “up-femininize” my appearance. This included being clear that I was to not get a snorkel for my Jeep. My shoes needed to be more girly feminine; less earth mama. While they did not discuss my other wardrobe choices, I was also advised to let my hair grow, without trimming it and just letting the ends split. I listened to their words and made some comments. Only after we parted ways, did I begin to think about it more.

While I am grateful for their advice, I do not know that I can follow it. I like my hair to look lively, even to the tips. If that means it takes longer to grow out, then so be it. To me, my shoes need to be comfortable and practical. My earth mama flip flops support my feet, even when hiking on trails or when taking a walk on sand or pavement. I like my jeans and t-shirts. Eventually, I want to be able to ford rivers with my Jeep, so I will need to snorkel it.

Instead of changing my appearance, I’ve decided that it is important for me to attract a man who is comfortable enough in his own skin to accept me in mine. For far too long I have changed myself to suit the needs of others. This only resulted in me being unhappy with myself, well, and then everyone else. Now it is my time for me to be able to freely express myself in the form that is most comfortable to my being, whatever that may be at that moment. There are times when I like to wear heels and shirts. However, if at the time it means jeans, t-shirts, and earth mama flip flops while driving my door-less snorkeled Jeep with a masculine tac hat, then so be it. I’ll probably be wearing a lacy-frilly bra, while going commando, underneath.

Namaste.

Photo Courtesy of Stuart Miles on FreeDigitalPhotos.net