suddenlysinglewomen

Surviving the unwanted divorce

Lesson # 21

“Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.”

Oops!  I already wear purple . . . and orange . . . and bright yellow . . .  and my power color: red!!

I’ve always been about color, it just makes me happy.  Luckily my career choices have always been those that encourage self expression – within guidelines.

My ex, on the other hand, chose a career path that of being a CPA.  Straight out of college he went to work for one of the Big 8.  Over the years that has whittled down through mergers and government interference to just 4 now. The point being, if you were in an accounting firm (and probably the same for most large law firms) there was a dress code.  You wore navy blue and dark grey suits.  Your dress shirts were white, occasionally on a special occasion you could wear white instead.  (small joke)

You could have some color with a tie (or a small neck bow if you were female) but even that was pretty limited to blues and dark reds.  There was no personal creative expression allowed – you blended in.

I remember once we were headed out to a social gathering, being picked up at our house by another couple from the “firm”.  The ex was already ready and pacing in the living room.  I came out of the bedroom ready (with plenty of time still) dressed in what I thought was a cute ensemble appropriate for the occasion – a sporting event.  He took one look at me and said, “You’re not wearing that are you?”

Don’t you just love those questions?  I mean really, if you weren’t “really” wearing that, then why in the world would you have put it on??  Seriously??  But I knew the reason behind the shot across the bough, it was TOO much, TOO colorful, TOO attention getting, TOO me.  After all, my roll in life was to blend in, and let all attention be focused on him.

Even now, I’m far from being what I would consider eccentric.  I do however, dress for myself.  If I want to be daring and wear a bright color, I do.  I dress age appropriately, I don’t leave the house in anything that would embarrass my children or my parents – but I do allow myself to be “me”.  And I do enjoy wearing purple!

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Lesson #20

“Overprepare, then go with the flow.”

I definitely over prepare, I try to think of every contingency just to be on the safe side.  Sometimes, life still throws a monkey wrench into the works and best laid plans bust apart.  That said, I am, always have been, and probably always will be a planner and a preparer!

How nice it would be to “go with the flow”, certainly much less stressful.  I suppose what this lesson is telling us is that if we are overly prepared, then we’ll be able to sit back, assess and “go with the flow?”

I’m reminded of a conversation years ago with a woman lauding her son for wanting to be his own person and go against the flow.  Sometimes though, she warned him:  “It’s OK if you’re marching to the beat of a different drummer, unless you turn around and EVERYONE is going the other direction.”

Sometimes it works to be a salmon fighting your way upstream.  But wouldn’t it be nice if all our lives’ preparedness allowed us to be a leaf resting on the top of a gently flowing river flowing downstream?

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Lesson #19

“Burn the candles; use the nice sheets; wear the fancy lingerie.  Don’t save it for a special occasion.  Today is special.”

Why does this make me think of Erma Bombeck?  (I’m dating myself!)

Why do we save all these things for a special occasion?  I think my excuse is it’s the way I grew up.   My Mom always saved the “good towels” and the “good china” for when we had guests.  It made sense back then.  Now that I’m on my own though?  Not so much.  Gosh dog it, I’m worth it!

Heaven help me, I not only use my “sterling silver” flatware, I occasionally even (gasp) put it in the dishwasher.  Yes, I admit it.  After years of married life and never putting the Revere Ware copper clad pots in the dishwasher because my Mom told me it would cause the black lid knobs to “dull” – I DID IT!!  EGAD!!

This may be one of the easiest of the 45 Life Lessons to accomplish.  We deserve it, so just like the Home Depot ads:  “Let’s do this”!!!

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Lesson #18

“When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.”

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and assume this means love of an “activity” or a “passion” that you’re pursuing, and not taking “no” for an answer.  Hopefully it’s not human, LOL!

Funny that this comes close on the heels of the life lesson of your second childhood.  Have you ever seen more persistence than that from a child who wants something badly?  They do NOT take no for an answer.  They will present you with every argument they can come up with to wear you down.

When I think of things in my life that I have pursued with that amount of love or level of passion, the primary one I come up with is my passion for all things equestrian.  It started at a very young age, and trust me when I say it was never nurtured by my parents, nor later by my husband.  I kept wishing and hoping and dreaming.

I bought my first horse when I was 47 years old.  Realizing that life long dream can still put a goofy smile on my face today some 16 years later.  I can remember driving out to that barn to “try him out” as if it was yesterday.  I can remember the phone call afterwards to the husband assuring him that even though this was the first one I tried, that this WAS “the one” – seriously.

There have been other “the ones” since, as anyone in the horse world knows, but man – was that day special.  So yes, when it comes to today’s life lesson, I would whole heartedly encourage you to not take no for an answer.  This is your life, you don’t get a “do over”.

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Lesson #17

“It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.  But the second one is up to you and no one else.”

I had a great childhood.  I was the first born and favorite daughter!!  Ok, maybe I was the ONLY daughter but I was still the favorite one!

I don’t look at the “oops’s” in my life and blame it on my upbringing, my Mother, my Father or anyone else.  I had probably fewer adventures than most.  I never pushed the boundaries, I was a rule follower.  We stuck close to home, maybe the occasional visit to relatives who all lived in state.   We played outside a lot, and not with fancy toys.  There was minimal TV, and then what ever program we watched was determined by my Father.  Walt Disney and Bonanza come to mind.

We had one phone, kids didn’t really use it to communicate till maybe high school.  Even then, since it was in the kitchen where everyone listened, there weren’t many conversations over the wires.   Our conversations were face to face.  The first time I was dishonest with my parents, I was a Senior in High School and it was re: a date.  I got caught.  Like I said, not many “adventures”!

If the second childhood is up to me, I can only hope that I do as good a job on this next one as I did on the last one!  I will, however, be looking for more adventures this time around!

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Lesson #16

“A writer writes, if you want to be a writer, write.”

Not sure about this as a “life lesson”, but it seems rather apropos for what I’m doing!

My journey here started with my post divorce search for a support group.  When I did not immediately find one, I started writing my thoughts down on divorce “survival” with the thought of starting my own group.  These thoughts would be discussion topics.  Surely there were more of “me” out there?

In a passing conversation that summer, (at a wedding reception of all places – get it?  Love and happily ever after?) a person suggested if I was writing these thoughts down, I should write them in a book.  The thought intimidated me.  Write a book?  Nah, not me . . . that takes good English, good grammar, good punctuation and a lot of words.

The seed had been planted.  I took a “writing” course where my teacher was very encouraging.  She loved the personal aspect of my thoughts and writing.   I hung out in Barnes & Noble and didn’t see any book available like what I was looking for.  I started fleshing out those thoughts I’d written down, I organized into chapters.  I did this all in long hand on tablets, thoughts just flowed.

Then I took a publishing class; that instructor started us out by “publishing” a photo book.  Our next step was learning to blog.  Thus three years ago I began this blog, while still writing thoughts (now on my lap top) for a “book”.  Still never thought it would get out there.

Last December, I met with a potential publisher who walked me through the process, and I handed over my prologue and first three chapters.  She offered me a contract.  My attorney son is still hashing out a few details (nothing like free attorney advice!) but the point is:  I wanted to write about this topic and I did.  If I can do it, you can do it.

Some people do it by journaling, some people do it by blogging.  Point being, if you want to try your hand at writing, then . . . write!   Maybe the life lesson is this:  If you want to try something outside your comfort zone – then do it!   What are you waiting for?

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Lesson #15

We’re a third of the way through our journey.  How are we doing?  I’m getting a lot out of this process, mainly because it makes me pause and think that I can be much more positive.  I hope you are as well.  I’ve always fancied myself as a “glass half full” type person.  The actions of a few over the past 15 years have caused me to slip a bit in my resolve.

Writing my thoughts and sharing them with you has helped me to reaffirm my natural instincts – and for that I am grateful.  So . . . on to today’s Lesson!

“You can get through anything if you stay put in today.”

Would this be similar to the old adage, “Take one day at a time”?

I am a self confessed worrier.  I admit it, I worry about tomorrow.  Sometimes I live “in the moment”, but rarely.  I’m a planner, I’m a scheduler, I know what I’m doing tomorrow, next week, next month – you get the drift.

I suppose this Lesson is telling me I need to stay in today and complete today.  So here’s to today, and making it the very best it can be, putting one foot in front of the other!

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Lesson #14

“Life is too short for long pity parties.  Get busy living, or get busy dying.”

Well . . . tell me how you REALLY feel!

I see this a lot when I’m together with a group of divorced, single women.  To be fair, I think we all have days like this whether we’re single and alone, or with a significant other and in a relationship.  Everyone has bad days and since we do, there is the occasional pity party.  That’s normal.

What is not normal is if it continues on to be the focus of your every day.  We all have friends like this, the world is always sour to them.  They get started on the “woe is me, poor me”  and you want to throw your hands up and say stop!!  (Or at least leave the room)

People like this can suck the oxygen out of the room; they are a total buzz kill. My guess is 9 times outta 10, they don’t even realize it, so mired in self pity they are.

Can you help them?  Maybe.  The one thing you can do for sure is make sure you’re not one of them.  You reach a time when you can tell that your friends and family just don’t want to hear about it anymore.  That’s a sign that they’ve moved on and they are thinking so should you.

You may not be ready to move on, but seeking a different outlet might be the best course of action.  Perhaps it’s time to seek professional help?  Look around you and find the positives and convince yourself to celebrate those – now that’s a party we’d all like to attend.

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Lesson # 13

“If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it”.

It sounds so obvious, but when you think you’re “in love” – it’s amazing what you’ll put up with.

The first time this happened to me, it took me a while before I realized it.   I was in college and dating a guy I’d met through a sorority sister of mine.  The first time we “went out”, wasn’t really a date – he was helping me out by being an escort to an event I wanted to attend.  We got along, had fun, and actually started “dating” after that.

Over the course of our dating relationship, it became clear to me that when it came to certain facets of his “social standing”, I wasn’t included or introduced correctly.  Example:  he was being courted/nominated for a membership in an exclusive all male social club in his hometown.  Two things happened that should have been a warning to me.

  1.  The first time he introduced me around, he mistakenly referred to my sorority affiliation.  I realized later that my sorority was not considered one of the top “8” on campus and he was embarrassed.
  2. During the “courting” process for this club, he proposed to me and we became engaged.  However since this was the “Bachelor’s Club” of a large city in Texas and responsible for putting on a Deb Ball, he kept our engagement a secret since that would prevent him from being asked to be a member.  Clearly I was not a priority.

I was young, naive and thought I was in love, I allowed it to happen.  I can’t even blame it on low self esteem, I just bought into it for “his” sake.  As we mature, we get smarter, right?

Not so much.

Several years after my divorce, I  began a relationship with a man I’d known for years through a non-profit we sat on the Board of.  I’ve spoken of him on this site before.  I thought he was amazing; I thought I was in love.  It took me quite a while to realize he was NOT introducing me to his friends or his family, even though he had met mine.  He never took me around his work, his church, his club.  He never included me on his trips to the family ranch, or invited me along to share his “sports” or recreational activities.  You convince yourself that he doesn’t want to share his time alone with you with anyone.

You should be convincing yourself that you’re a “secret” because he doesn’t want anyone to know he’s IN a relationship.  You see, if he’s perceived as being “IN” a relationship, all those other “opportunities” to meet other women will dry up.  Heaven forbid he misses the next greener pasture.

Cynical?  Yes.  We should give ourselves credit enough to realize we ARE valuable and “worth” being introduced, and taken out in public.  We should never be a secret.  It makes me feel like “the other woman”, kept in the shadows.

I am no one’s secret.

 

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Lesson #12

“Don’t compare your life to other’s.  You have no idea what their journey is all about.”

This one is tough for me, because the interpretation can be so many different things.

You don’t compare your life to other’s meaning if you think your’s is so much worse, you have no idea what they’re really going through?

You don’t compare your life to other’s meaning if you think your’s is so much better, you might have misjudged just how happy they really are?

You don’t compare your life to other’s meaning that no two life’s experiences and journeys are alike?

I feel like it’s mostly the first one, but could be any of them.

I once had a friend say in a group that “If you sit around a circle and everyone throws their problems in the middle, after looking at what everyone else is going through, you will more than likely pick yours right back up.”

I will be truthful and admit that at certain times I have been “envious” of others and wished my life to be more like theirs.  However, when we delve behind the scenes, their perfect lives are rarely what we think they are.

My 2016 quest has begun by acknowledging that I am content with who I am, proud of my accomplishments and challenged to learn even more about who I am and what I can be “when I grow up”!   My journey is mine alone, I’m learning what it is all about, and I’m so glad you’re along with me.

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