suddenlysinglewomen

Becoming the best version of yourself

Just Because – – –

Sometimes you need a little humor!!  Bye Bye Summer, getting ready for Fall!!

 

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Random Thoughts On A Day Of Travel – – –

It was my first birthday “divorced”, and I decided to take a trip so being “alone” wouldn’t feel so “alone” at home.  It was 2008, June, and hot in Texas so clearly I was headed north.

I’d seen advertisements for The Grand Hotel, on Mackinac Island, Michigan.  June was their Lilac Festival – It had been in a movie, it looked beautiful and perfect.  I made a reservation for a week.  After all, traveling eats up a whole day on the front end and the back end.

What brings me down this walk on memory lane you say?

When cleaning out the other day I came across a small (really small) journal of sorts that I’d only written in two pages.  One page had a list of yarn colors for a needlepoint pillow I had done, guessing that my reasoning was if I ever wanted to do a companion piece, I’d know which colors of wool yarn I’d used.  Pretty sure they don’t even make that yarn anymore, LOL!

The other page was full of short, random thoughts and questions that I’d obviously written on the first couple of days of that trip to Mackinac Island back in 2008.  Clearly journaling didn’t last long for me.  But reading through these thoughts, and wondering what on earth I must’ve been thinking was entertaining at this point of my life’s journey.

I’m a people person, I had hated being alone.  I tried to find someone to go on this adventure with me.  There was no one interested in going on the trip with me whether due to the time of the year, the cost, the distance . . . or maybe just me?

Some thoughts are clear, some I’m struggling to remember what I must’ve meant, but thought it would be interesting to share them with you.  My closest friends know I can be really random at times, this certainly helps their case.

Here goes:

“4:30 alarm

Detroit delay, canceled, lost luggage by Delta, everyone on the plane calling someone about their cancelation, no one for me to call (unhappy face drawn here)

Chamber of Commerce?  where do I stay, call Grand operator for help, Steven at the Grand, it’s an island, no more ferries even if I can get to Mackinac City

Darth Vader, slut, wind chill, bugs, driving rain and wind

Ladies from Alabama on a girls trip – I’m alone

Clothing memo – I’m in bright orange

Island?  What island, only clouds and fog

Have I mentioned it’s cold?

The dress code, everyone is a “couple”

Barbara from yesterday, from Alabama, just said hello, that’s nice – are things looking up?

Smile, the bridge, can see it now

Really rough waters, is this a lake?

Note to self, travel with a granola bar . . . and change, and diet coke – this is a Pepsi state (another unhappy face!)

Lone sailboat – just like me, on rough waters of life

I see the island.  I see the Grand – rises above all

Bathing suits – HA!

Ferry, cases of drinks, plants for landscape – an island after all

Carriages – not like my pampered pony!”

And then the writing ends.  I did make it to the island, and I did eventually fill up my days with activities and had no time to write any more random thoughts.  As I look back, I’m proud of being brave, of going it alone, and discovering that even though I prefer to have a pal – I don’t have to have one.

I sense from those notes the pain I was feeling at the time, but I don’t regret it because you have to go through the darkness to find the dawn, to find the light once again.

Here it is 10 years later, and I’m still taking trips alone because I’m no longer going to “wait”!  Because what it tomorrow does’t come?

 

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“Loving My Actual Life” – – –

A promise?  Or a book?

Both!

It started with reading that book:  “Loving My Actual Life” written and lived by Alexandra Kuykendall.  She called it an experiment in “relishing what’s right in front of me.”

I call it a challenge, the gauntlet has been thrown down and can I do it?

I think so.  I’ve been heading that direction for quite some time now.  Baby steps.  Or how’s about this one?  Rome was not built in a day!

The hardest part is beginning, trying to be more positive when everything around you is screaming “pity party”!!

When I got divorced at age 54, I had been well on my way to knowing exactly where I was headed in life.  Then the wall of divorce was built around me and tried as I might, I couldn’t seem to find the ladders to get over that wall.  I started chipping away at the bricks and mortar of that wall and piece by piece found that my “post divorce” actual life was something that I could love.

Easy?  No!  Possible?  Abso-freakin’lutely!

It starts with beginning to pay very close attention to what you really love to do, what brings you joy?  Do you have a goal, a dream, a passion?  I do, I have many.  Once I started to focus on my needs, vs everyone else’s the possibilities were endless.  Not easy, and there are roadblocks, but do-able.

Author of the book, Ms. Kuykendall says:

I know this idea of paying attention to what I love to do can feel like a luxury, but if I don’t pay attention to it I can quickly move from gratitude for this life to resentment of others’ needs.

There is something wired in each of us that wants to live on purpose for a purpose.  Some of our great cultural icons have spoken on passion.  From Nelson Mandela, who said, “there is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living,” to Steve Jobs:  “You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right.  If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out.”  It’s about something bigger than here and now.  It’s about possibilities.  And it’s about what we are each driven to work toward.”

What are your dreams and passions?  What are your opportunities?  Baby steps . . .

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Opportunities!

Advice columnist Ann Landers said:  “Opportunities are often disguised as hard work.  Most people fail to recognize them.”

Suffice to say not all people are on board with “hard work”.  There are those that expect things to be handed over to them without so much as lifting a finger to deserve it.  Irritating? Yup!  Universal?  Double Yup!

Author James MacDonald said:  “Those who study human experience agree almost universally that life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you choose to respond.”

It gives me pause, and it should, because how I choose to respond to something could change my life and those around me for a very long time.  We’re not always dealt the hand that we want to play with – but unlike golf, there aren’t many “mulligans” in that life.

Your decisions and your attitudes play a huge part in taking advantage of opportunities.  And yes, it does indeed require hard work.  I leave you with a quote from another author, Charles Swindoll, on the power of being positive with your possibilities!

“Words can never adequately convey the incredible impact of our attitude . . . I believe the single most important decision I can make on a day-to-day basis is my attitude choice.  It’s more important than my past.  It’s more important than my education or my bankroll or my success or my failures.  My attitude choice is more important than my fame or my pain or what others think or say about me or my position or my circumstances.  Attitudes keep me going or cripple my progress.  Attitude alone fuels my fire or assaults my hope.  When my attitude is right, there is no barrier too high nor valley too deep nor dream too extreme nor challenge too great for me.”

What are your opportunities today?

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The Two “B’s” . . .

Do I have you thinking??  What do you think the two “B’s” are?

Breakfast or Brunch?

Bats and Balls?

Bend or Break?

Biggio and Bagwell?  (OK, that’s only for real baseball fans!)

OK, I’ll stop now!  : -)  For the purposes of this post, my two “B’s” are “better” and “bitter“.

I’ve covered this before, but a recent incident brought it back in memory and it’s OK to sometimes rehash a thought.  With the exception on one little letter, which one are you?  How can changing that one little letter make you a happier person?

No matter if you started following this post because of your own divorce, or you just signed up to make me feel better (and hopefully yourself!), this covers everyone.

Sometimes in those critical moments of making a decision on how to react to a situation, you come to a crossroads, a fork in the path.  You make a choice and it can either make you a happier person, or doubt can lead you to falter, or down a darker pathway.

“The circumstances of life either shrink or stretch your faith.  Either you get better or you get bitter.  The choice is yours.”

I hope that in life, I have made the “better” choices, because choosing to be bitter only hurts you!  In closing, take heart in the positiveness of this old gospel banner:

Doubt see the obstacles.

Faith sees the way.

Doubt sees the darkest night.

Faith sees the way.

Doubt dreads to take a step.

Faith soars on high.

Doubt questions, “Who believes?”

Faith answers, “I”

 

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Short and Sweet – – –

A quick share today – a poem!  Author is unknown but I saw it and wanted to share with my blog family:

 

Of the themes that men have known

One supremely stands alone.

Love is the theme, Love is supreme.

Sweeter it grows, glory bestows.

Bright as the sun, ever it glows.

Love is the theme, The eternal theme.

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Get Rid Of That Critic In Your Brain!

A while back, when I used to attend a “Divorce Recovery Group”, one of the ladies there said she tried hard NOT to give her ex husband “free rent” in her brain.  But isn’t that true of anyone who hurts us or criticizes us?  Why do we let them inside?  Because it’s hard to kick them out sometimes.  Guilty!

Does this make you more critical of others?  Guilty!

Is it easy to replace a critical attitude?  Don’t I wish.

Author James MacDonald writes:

A continuously critical attitude toward those around me will consume all that is healthy and joy-producing in my life.”

Let’s dump that critical attitude.  There is WAY too much hate in our world today, and it’s not an overnight fix!  But – can you be one of the changes today?

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Recent Dinner Discussion . . .

I recently attended a joint birthday dinner with friends.  We’re all divorced, and from youngest to oldest is about 10 years.  One of the things to come out of this dinner, other than the enjoyment of being with good friends, was just how content we all are beginning to be with our lives, jobs, families, friends and “single-ness”.  Yes – we do NOT need a man to “complete” us.  It worked in the movie Jerry Maquire, but that’s just Hollywood!

It reminded me of a passage in a book I read last summer that had struck me as where my life is currently.  It took me a while to find the passage, but below I’ve copied it to share with you all.  My greatest wish for my followers is to find your own version of contentment.

“Am I seeing the blessings of contentment in my life?”  

Contentment brings blessings.  Blessings such as joy in the present, and health and satisfaction in the simple things of life.  Contentment brings a settled sense of sufficiency and a peaceful pace that proves “more” is not the focus of your thinking.  You have life.  What a privilege to be alive in this world!  Contentment brings joy in the present.  

Contentment also builds our capacity to enjoy ordinary pleasures.  If you’re content, simple stuff makes you happy.  Like a nice walk.  Go for a walk today with a member of your family, and hold his or her hand.  Talk about important things.  Enjoy a simple pleasure; for example, a loving conversation or a good meal without racing to your next appointment.  Simple things:  a nice piece of music savored.  Cultivate your capacity to enjoy ordinary pleasures.”

Find contentment today, find your smile and be that point of light some are searching so hard to find!

 

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Hoo – Rah!! For All The Strong Women Out There!!

Abby Wambach, Remarks as Delivered

Greetings to President Beilock, Barnard faculty, trustees, and honorees: Katherine Johnson, Anna Quindlen, and Rhea Suh.

And to each of the 619 bad-ass women of the Barnard graduating class of 2018: Congratulations!

Doesn’t it feel like the second you figure anything out in life, it ends and you’re forced to start all over again?

Experts call these times of life “transitions.” I call them terrifying.

I went through a terrifying transition recently when I retired from soccer.

The world tries to distract us from our fear during these transitions by creating fancy ceremonies for us. This graduation is your fancy ceremony. Mine was the ESPYs, a nationally televised sports award show. I had to get dressed up for that just like you got dressed up for this, but they sent me a really expensive fancy stylist. It doesn’t look like you all got one. Sorry about that.

So it went like this: ESPN called and told me they were going to honor me with their inaugural icon award. I was humbled, of course, to be regarded as an icon. Did I mention that I’m an icon?

I received my award along with two other incredible athletes: basketball’s Kobe Bryant and football’s Peyton Manning. We all stood on stage together and watched highlights of our careers with the cameras rolling and the fans cheering—and I looked around and had a moment of awe. I felt so grateful to be there—included in the company of Kobe and Peyton. I had a momentary feeling of having arrived: like we women had finally made it.

Then the applause ended and it was time for the three of us to exit stage left. And as I watched those men walk off the stage, it dawned on me that the three of us were stepping away into very different futures.

Each of us, Kobe, Peyton and I—we made the same sacrifices, we shed the same amount of blood sweat and tears, we’d left it all on the field for decades with the same ferocity, talent and commitment—but our retirements wouldn’t be the same at all. Because Kobe and Peyton walked away from their careers with something I didn’t have: enormous bank accounts. Because of that they had something else I didn’t have: freedom. Their hustling days were over; mine were just beginning.

Later that night, back in my hotel room, I laid in bed and thought: this isn’t just about me, and this isn’t just about soccer.

We talk a lot about the pay gap. We talk about how we U.S. women overall still earn only 80 cents on the dollar compared to men, and black women make only 63 cents, while Latinas make 54 cents. What we need to talk about more is the aggregate and compounding effects of the pay gap on women’s lives. Over time, the pay gap means women are able to invest less and save less so they have to work longer. When we talk about what the pay gap costs us, let’s be clear. It costs us our very lives.

And it hit me that I’d spent most of my time during my career the same way I’d spent my time on that ESPYs stage. Just feeling grateful. Grateful to be one of the only women to have a seat at the table. I was so grateful to receive any respect at all for myself that I often missed opportunities to demand equality for all of us.

But as you know, women of Barnard—CHANGE. IS. HERE.

Women have learned that we can be grateful for what we have while also demanding what we deserve.

Like all little girls, I was taught to be grateful. I was taught to keep my head down, stay on the path, and get my job done. I was freaking Little Red Riding Hood.

You know the fairy tale: It’s just one iteration of the warning stories girls are told the world over. Little Red Riding Hood heads off through the woods and is given strict instructions: Stay on the path. Don’t talk to anybody. Keep your head down hidden underneath your Handmaid’s Tale cape.

And she does… at first. But then she dares to get a little curious and she ventures off the path. That’s of course when she encounters the Big Bad Wolf and all hell breaks loose. The message is clear: Don’t be curious, don’t make trouble, don’t say too much or BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN.

I stayed on the path out of fear, not of being eaten by a wolf, but of being cut, being benched, losing my paycheck.

If I could go back and tell my younger self one thing it would be this:

“Abby, you were never Little Red Riding Hood; you were always the wolf.”

So when I was entrusted with the honor of speaking here today, I decided that the most important thing for me to say to you is this:

BARNARD WOMEN—CLASS OF 2018—WE. ARE. THE. WOLVES.

In 1995, around the year of your birth, wolves were re-introduced into Yellowstone National Park after being absent for seventy years.

In those years, the number of deer had skyrocketed because they were unchallenged, alone at the top of the food chain. They grazed away and reduced the vegetation, so much that the river banks were eroding.

Once the wolves arrived, they thinned out the deer through hunting. But more significantly, their presence changed the behavior of the deer. Wisely, the deer started avoiding the valleys, and the vegetation in those places regenerated. Trees quintupled in just six years. Birds and beavers started moving in. The river dams the beavers built provided habitats for otters and ducks and fish. The animal ecosystem regenerated. But that wasn’t all. The rivers actually changed as well. The plant regeneration stabilized the river banks so they stopped collapsing. The rivers steadied—all because of the wolves’ presence.

See what happened here?

The wolves, who were feared as a threat to the system, turned out to be its salvation.

Barnard women, are you picking up what I’m laying down here?

Women are feared as a threat to our system—and we will also be our society’s salvation.

Our landscape is overrun with archaic ways of thinking about women, about people of color, about the “other,” about the rich and the poor, about the the powerful and the powerless—and these ways of thinking are destroying us.

We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

We will not Little Red Riding Hood our way through life. We will unite our pack, storm the valley together and change the whole bloody system.

Throughout my life, my pack has been my team.

Teams need a unifying structure, and the best way to create one collective heartbeat is to establish rules for your team to live by. It doesn’t matter what specific page you’re all on, just as long as you’re all on the same one.

Here are four rules I’ve used to unite my pack and lead them to gold.

Rule One: MAKE FAILURE YOUR FUEL

Here’s something the best athletes understand, but seems like a hard concept for non-athletes to grasp. Non-athletes don’t know what to do with the gift of failure. So they hide it, pretend it never happened, reject it outright—and they end up wasting it.

Listen: Failure is not something to be ashamed of, it’s something to be POWERED by. Failure is the highest octane fuel your life can run on. You gotta learn to make failure your fuel.

When I was on the Youth National Team, only dreaming of playing alongside Mia Hamm. You know her? Good. I had the opportunity to visit the National Team’s locker room. The thing that struck me most wasn’t my heroes’ grass-stained cleats or their names and numbers hanging above their lockers—it was a picture. It was a picture that someone had taped next to the door so that It would be the last thing every player saw before she headed out to the training pitch.

You might guess it was a picture of their last big win, of them standing on a podium accepting gold medals—but it wasn’t. It was a picture of their longtime rival—the Norwegian national team—celebrating after having just beaten the USA in the 1995 World Cup.

In that locker room, I learned that in order to become my very best—on the pitch and off—I’d need to spend my life letting the feelings and lessons of failure transform into my power. Failure is fuel. Fuel is power.

Women, listen to me. We must embrace failure as our fuel instead of accepting it as our destruction.

As Michelle Obama recently said: “I wish that girls could fail as well as men do and be okay. Because let me tell you watching men fail up—it’s frustrating. It’s frustrating to see men blow it and win. And we hold ourselves to these crazy, crazy standards.”

Wolf Pack: Fail up. Blow it, and win. 

Rule Two: LEAD FROM THE BENCH

Imagine this: You’ve scored more goals than any human being on the planet—female or male. You’ve co-captained and led Team USA in almost every category for the past decade. And you and your coach sit down and decide together that you won’t be a starter in your last World Cup for Team USA.

So… that sucked.

You’ll feel benched sometimes, too. You’ll be passed over for the promotion, taken off the project—you might even find yourself holding a baby instead of a briefcase—watching your colleagues “get ahead.”

Here’s what’s important. You are allowed to be disappointed when it feels like life’s benched you. What you aren’t allowed to do is miss your opportunity to lead from the bench.

During that last World Cup, my teammates told me that my presence, my support, my vocal and relentless belief in them from the bench is what gave them the confidence they needed to win us that championship.

If you’re not a leader on the bench, don’t call yourself a leader on the field. You’re either a leader everywhere or nowhere.

And by the way: the fiercest leading I’ve ever seen has been done between mother and child. Parenting is no bench. It just might be the big game.

Wolf Pack: Wherever you’re put, lead from there.

Rule Three: CHAMPION EACH OTHER

During every 90-minute soccer match there are a few magical moments when the ball actually hits the back of the net and a goal is scored. When this happens, it means that everything has come together perfectly—the perfect pass, the perfectly timed run, every player in the right place at exactly the right time: all of this culminating in a moment in which one player scores that goal.

What happens next on the field is what transforms a bunch of individual women into a team. Teammates from all over the field rush toward the goal scorer. It appears that we’re celebrating her: but what we’re REALLY celebrating is every player, every coach, every practice, every sprint, every doubt, and every failure that this one single goal represents.

You will not always be the goal scorer. And when you are not—you better be rushing toward her.

Women must champion each other. This can be difficult for us. Women have been pitted against each other since the beginning of time for that one seat at the table. Scarcity has been planted inside of us and among us. This scarcity is not our fault. But it is our problem. And it is within our power to create abundance for women where scarcity used to live.

As you go out into the world: Amplify each others’ voices. Demand seats for women, people of color and all marginalized people at every table where decisions are made. Call out each other’s wins and just like we do on the field: claim the success of one woman, as a collective success for all women.

Joy. Success. Power. These are not pies where a bigger slice for her means a smaller slice for you. These are infinite. In any revolution, the way to make something true starts with believing it is. Let’s claim infinite joy, success, and power—together.

Wolf Pack: Her Victory is your Victory. Celebrate it.

Rule Four: DEMAND THE BALL

When I was a teenager, I was lucky enough to play with one of my heroes, Michelle Akers. She needed a place to train since there was not yet a women’s professional league. Michelle was tall like I am, built like I’d be built, and the most courageous soccer player I’d ever seen play. She personified every one of my dreams.

We were playing a small sided scrimmage—5 against 5. We were eighteen-year-olds and she was—Michelle Akers—a chiseled, thirty-year-old powerhouse. For the first three quarters of the game, she was taking it easy on us, coaching us, teaching us about spacing, timing and the tactics of the game.

By the fourth quarter, she realized that because of all of this coaching, her team was losing by three goals. In that moment, a light switched on inside of her.

She ran back to her own goalkeeper, stood one yard away from her, and screamed:

GIVE. ME. THE. EFFING. BALL.

And the goalkeeper gave her the effing ball.

And she took that ball and she dribbled through our entire effing team and she scored.

Now this game was winner’s keepers, so if you scored you got the ball back. So, as soon as Michelle scored, she ran back to her goalie, stood a yard away from her and screamed:

GIVE ME THE BALL.

The keeper did. And again she dribbled though us and scored. And then she did it again. And she took her team to victory.

Michelle Akers knew what her team needed from her at every moment of that game.

Don’t forget that until the fourth quarter, leadership had required Michelle to help, support, and teach, but eventually leadership called her to demand the ball.

Women. At this moment in history leadership is calling us to say:

GIVE ME THE EFFING BALL.

GIVE ME THE EFFING JOB.

GIVE ME THE SAME PAY THAT THE GUY NEXT TO ME GETS.

GIVE ME THE PROMOTION.

GIVE ME THE MICROPHONE.

GIVE ME THE OVAL OFFICE.

GIVE ME THE RESPECT I’VE EARNED AND GIVE IT TO MY WOLF PACK TOO.

In closing, I want to leave you with the most important thing I’ve learned since leaving soccer.

When I retired, my sponsor Gatorade surprised me at a meeting with the plan for my send-off commercial. The message was this: Forget Me.

They’d nailed it. They knew I wanted my legacy to be ensuring the future success of the sport I’d dedicated my life to. If my name were forgotten, that would mean that the women who came behind me were breaking records, winning championships and pushing the game to new heights. When I shot that commercial I cried.

A year later, I found myself coaching my ten-year old daughter’s soccer team. I’d coached them all the way to the championship. (#Humblebrag.) One day I was warming the team up, doing a little shooting drill. I was telling them a story about when I retired. And one of those little girls looked up at me and said: “So what did you retire from?” And I looked down at her and I said, “SOCCER.” And she said, “Oh. Who did you play for?” And I said, “THE. UNITED. STATES. OF. AMERICA.” And she said, “Oh. Does that mean you know Alex Morgan?”

Be careful what you wish for, Barnard. They forgot me.

But that’s okay. Being forgotten in my retirement didn’t scare me. What scared me was losing the identity the game gave me. I defined myself as Abby Wambach, soccer player—the one who showed up and gave 100 percent to my team and fought alongside my wolf pack to make a better future for the next generation.

Without soccer who would I be?

A few months after retirement, I began creating my new life. I met Glennon and our three children and I became a wife, a mother, a business owner and an activist.

And you know who I am now? I’m still the same Abby. I still show up and give 100 percent—now to my new pack—and I still fight every day to make a better future for the next generation.

You see, soccer didn’t make me who I was. I brought who I was to soccer, and I get to bring who I am wherever I go. And guess what? So do you.

As you leave here today and everyday going forward: Don’t just ask yourself, “What do I want to do?” Ask yourself: “WHO do I want to be?” Because the most important thing I’ve learned is that what you do will never define you. Who you are always will.

And who you are—Barnard women—are the wolves.

Surrounding you today is your wolf pack. Look around.

Don’t lose each other.

Leave these sacred grounds united, storm the valleys together, and be our salvation.

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Little Thought, Big Message –

I’m lucky in that I have friends in all age ranges!  You might think that wisdom comes mostly from those who have “lived” life – not always!

I borrow this from the Facebook post of one of the “youngsters” I’m privileged to know.  She’s somewhere in the age range of “25”, but otherwise very worldly in her thoughts.  Not sure where she borrowed this from, but when I read it, I knew it had to be shared with you all.

“Everybody wants happiness, nobody wants pain,

But you can’t have a rainbow without a little rain.”

Few words, huge message!

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