Hope for the discouraged

FullSizeRender (3)I will admit that I’ve been kind of discouraged with myself lately. Why can’t I have more energy, more patience, more gratefulness for all of the blessings in my life? Picking on yourself never leads to anything good, nor does comparing yourself to others. I look in the mirror and say “You could do better.”

You know what? It’s true. I could do better, but instead of putting it like that, I’d like to say “I am better today.” Not better like a competition that I have to work at, but better because I’ve lived and learned for one more day.

Before I say anything to myself, I ask whether it’s something I’d say to someone I love. I certainly wouldn’t tell a friend,

“You can’t balance everything.”

“Why are you so lazy?”

“Other people can do this; why can’t you?”

Those are the kinds of things I would never even think about someone else, so why was it okay to talk to myself that way? I’m learning to think of myself as a kind and supportive friend to a younger woman who needs my help. She needs encouragement and a pep talk and sometimes a little time off from all of her responsibilities. I let her know she is strong and she can keep going, even when she thinks it’s impossible, and that she is better today, just for being herself.

What do you need to hear from yourself today?

If you enjoy reading my blog, please check out my first novel, Giving Myself Away, about a divorced mom making tough choices and a fresh start.

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Muddling through a bad day

My car wouldn’t start, the coffee shop was closed on the one day I was going to stop for a big cup of coffee, I burned my tongue on scalding hot tea. It was going to be one of those days.

I could tell myself over and over again how a few mishaps don’t make the whole day bad.

I could practice being grateful – my mom lives nearby and had a car I could borrow for the day and she has a battery charger I was able to use after work on my car (thanks to YouTube, I figured out what to do with the charger). My loved ones are safe and healthy; we have enough to eat and a place to live. I have a job to be late for. I can have tea instead of coffee (even if it is too hot).

But no matter what I told myself, the day seemed bad. I found myself expecting more things to go wrong and those were the only things I noticed throughout the day.

The day finally ended and I woke up this morning determined to have a fresh start. If nothing else, I learned something from my bad day. I realized that every day has blessings and burdens, and your attitude determines which of these you are going to pay more attention to.

Yesterday, plenty of good things happened, actually way more good things than bad ones. My kids were extra loving because they knew I felt stressed, I got a much-needed pep talk, and everything went smoothly at work (once I got there).

The next time I wake up on the wrong side of bed, I am going to try, try, try to remember the lesson I learned: the day is what you make it, so go out and have a good one.

 

Please check out my first novel, Giving Myself Away, about a divorced mom making tough choices.

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What were you happiest your ex took with him in the divorce?

Adriennes blog 15 brown recliner picHi, I’m Adrienne.  I’m one of those people who likes to make lists.  You’ll find them stashed in drawers, hanging in the kitchen cabinets, and in the reminders app on my phone.  Not all of my lists are things to do.  Some of them are things to be grateful for.  There’s a list I pull out from my jewelry box every now and then when I’m feeling sorry for myself about being divorced.  The paper is getting fuzzy along the edges from being folded and unfolded so many times, but I’m happy to say I don’t need to look at this list as often as I used to.

Things I’m happy Drew took with him in the divorce:

  1. His hideous brown recliner.  You know the chair, the one that comes with you into your marriage.  You know it’s a bad idea to let him bring it with him, but you’re so happy to be pulling your separate lives together that you overlook that chair.  It might be a hand-me-down from his parents or he might have picked it up at the Salvation Army, but either way, it was part of his bachelor life and now it’s got memories.  Never mind the fact that it’s ugly as all get out, stained, and not even that comfortable anymore.  There’s no slipcover that’s going to make that lumpy excuse for furniture look respectable.  It doesn’t match anything else, and you just have to hope you have one of those man-cave rooms to hide it in, because it’s not going anywhere…until you get divorced, that is.
  2. His “collections.”  Beer steins, baseball cards, comic books, you name it.  The monetary value or the space it takes up is completely irrelevant.  The older his collection is, the more determined he is to keep it.  You can bet his mother can’t wait to get it out of her house.  I never saw Drew’s mom lifting such heavy stuff as the day she finally unloaded Drew’s boxes from their attic to ours.  Or maybe your man had a mother who threw out his stuff and he still resents her for it.  These are the ones to watch out for because if you so much as throw out an old receipt of theirs for a hot dog from a baseball game ten years ago, you’ve just discarded a piece of his life.
  3. His snoring.  I put up with it and I learned to sleep despite it, but wow, I’ve never slept so well in my life now that I’m single.  I can sleep on the left side of the bed, the right, or the middle, and there’s always room for me.  No one to snuggle up to, but at least it’s quiet and roomy.
  4. His clothes.  Clothes = laundry and some men never learned to unball their socks or take the stuff out of their pockets.  I’m already mom to two kids; did I really need to be his mom too.
  5. The love letters I wrote him.  I promised I’d love him forever, and of course I believed it.  Who doesn’t think their romance is the best, truest love the world has ever known?  I might be tempted to look back and get sentimental about old times I can’t recapture, but thankfully he’s removed the temptation.
  6. The petty resentment.  I spent a lot of time being mad at Drew for not doing the household things that I felt like he should be doing, such as taking the trash out, mowing the lawn, or fixing the broken vacuum cleaner.  Now there’s no one to nag but myself.  My “honey-do” lists are only for me, and I can check off the items or ignore them at will.
  7. His debt.  Some of it I was responsible for, but now that we’re divorced, what he does or doesn’t do financially can’t hurt me anymore.  There’s no one to negotiate with over what we can afford.  If I put something on the credit card, I know I’ll be the one paying for it.
  8. His pet snake, Lulubel.  Drew and his roommates bought a ball python during a drunken night of college partying, and somehow he inherited her by being last to move out of the guys’ apartment.  I will not miss weekly trips to the pet store to buy mice to sacrifice to Lulu, or the semi-regular dreams I had that she would escape and kill one of us in the night.

You might say this list sounds like sour grapes, but it gets me by on the days I miss being married, miss having the comfort of a spouse and someone to share all the joys and sorrows of life with.

What were you happiest to let go of when you and your spouse separated?

You can read more about my lists and my adventures with and without Drew in Giving Myself Away, available now.

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Available at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle format

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Best Advice for the Newly Divorced

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Hi, I’m Adrienne.  I’ve been divorced a few years, and I’m starting to come to terms with my new life.  I’d like to share with you the best advice I ever got from an acquaintance who tread the path to singledom a few years before I did.

We were at a picnic and she pulled me aside.

“How are you doing?” she asked.

“Fine,” I said, trying not to notice all the intact families around me.

“No, really, how are you doing?” she asked again.

“It’s hard,” I said, my voice cracking.

“Listen.  You need to get new sheets.”

“Really?  It makes that much of a difference?”

“Trust me.  You’ll see,” she said, before walking off to find her son and her new husband.

When I left the picnic, I asked my sister to babysit so that I could go shopping.  I held back the part of me saying “This is a waste of money and you can’t afford it anyway.”  I bought really soft, 400-thread count sheets (in a muted shade my ex hates, but I always loved) and I went home and washed them and put them on my bed fresh out of the dryer.

I washed the old sheets too and put them in a bag for Goodwill.  Goodbye to the sheets my husband and I cuddled under to plan our future and dream big before it all fell apart.  Goodbye to the sheets where our children were conceived.  Goodbye to the pillowcases I cried countless tears upon.

I slept that night between my new sheets and I slept so well.  The sheets were nicer than any other sheets I had before, but more importantly, I was refeathering my nest.  I was accepting that this is “my” bed now, not “our” bed anymore.

Everyone has advice when you’re getting married, but no one tells you how to get divorced.  What’s the best advice you ever got?

You can find out why I needed new sheets in Giving Myself Away, coming out this fall from Assent Publishing.  Thanks for reading!

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