This has been a stressful year, filled with transitions and change. Change is not a favored activity for most humans. We tend to form habits (to save energy) patterns and ruts, and when major changes occur, stress happens. This leads me to #1:
#1: Stress is a good thing.
Yeah, you aren't going to hear this from too many therapists, but I'm a fan of challenges. I've always believed that growth occurs in the persuit of something, in stretching toward something, in adapting to a wound or setback.
Renaissance Man, who's a woodwork artist as well as photographer, recently bought a ton (literally) of windfall koa wood. He's told me the best pieces are always in the notches where branches meet the trunk, because the stress of the wind and elements blowing against the branches creates strong and powerful ripples deep within the wood. These “armpits” are where the prize wood is, that curly koa that (sold by the inch not the foot) for use in jewelry, musical instruments and treasure boxes.
I find the human metaphor of that to be true. Stress tempering creates beauty, if we let it.
#2: Enjoy your kids, even if they're brats, while you have them at home.
You never believe, when you're raising them, how fast it will all be over–leaving just a clunky clay lion, handprints in the cement of the garage, some photos, and a big cell phone bill.
#3: Relationships with adult children are different.
Very different. I'll blog on that whenever the hell I figure it out. If I ever figure it out.
#4: Dogs are wonderful.
God gave them to replace the missing children. (at least for me)
#5: Even when you do what you love, too much of a good thing can lead to burnout.
Following my inspirational blog, was a 55 hour work week doing therapy and working at a school. I can't even speak at the end of the day I'm so tired and sick of people. (Dogs are also good for this.)
#6: Put energy into your marriage and keep it going if you possibly can.
A spate of couples, family work and therapy with kids of divorce have driven home to me that the grass is very seldom greener on the divorced side. The trade-off of spouses, dating scene while middle aged, blended families… Talk about stressful.
But I guess my anecdotal evidence is tainted by the pool of respondents- happy divorced people don't end up in my office for therapy. Are there happy divorced people? Please chime in! I need some success stories!
#7: Wear exercise shoes all the time.
It makes it easy to choose stairs, bounce on a tramp with kids, and generally tell myself my ass is getting smaller.
#8: Turn off the office lights for a mini-rest.
Working with autistic kids has sharpened my awareness of how to alter mental states using simple sensory changes. Lowering the overhead lights almost immediately lowers the heart rate. This kind of strategy, used carefully, can help keep energy on an even keel throughout the workday.
#9: Do some small thing every day toward your dreams.
Identify your dreams/goals. Then do something toward them every day. Fill out a form. Write in your journal. Get that tax ID license. Then, no matter how bad the day is, you know you took a step closer to your destiny.
#10: Anticipate success.
Even if you don't believe in “The Secret”, it takes the same amount of mental energy to worry as to imagine what you want to see happen. Discipline your mind to anticipate success. At the very least it will improve your mood and health more than worry.
Hand up!!! Happy divorced people!!! I’m Pete’s third wife (the first died before they could get a divorce). He’s my second relationship. (We’re married but I was with the first drop-kick for 18 years – I should have left years earlier – it’s a long story). Sure, it was easier because I had no kids and wasn’t married and his youngest daughter was 13 and living with mum and stepfather. But we haven’t looked back since we met. Yes, we fight from time to time, but we have fun, laugh a lot and give each other space. It works for us.
Having said that, we still have to do the give and take thing. That never goes away.
Yay, here’s to a happy divorced testimonial! Blog about it sometime and invite me to the party!
I love this, and I swear I laughed out loud at least three times. The one that hit home to me was “Anticipate success.” As a card-carrying member of the Sunshine-Out-of-the-Ass club, I’m an optimist. I hate feeling stressed; it makes me miserable. I know what makes me happy and I surround myself with it. Karma’s another good thing to keep in mind when you put negative energy out there. While I don’t follow everything “The Secret” says, I agree with the law of attraction–what you put out, will come back. Pay it forward and all that jazz. 😀
THanks Noelle, your comments mean a lot to me!
A lot of wisdom in there (as far as I can tell =) ).
My favourites, in random order:
small thing every day towards your dreams
put energy into your marriage (having no kids, this is probably easier for us 😉 )
I’m more of a cat person, though. They’re much more independent. 🙂
I was a cat person too, until they made me allergic. So sad! Took awhile to switch to dogs, but now I’d never go back.
Great article Toby…Change is good and isn’t as stressful if you embrace it. As for stress, we never really know our true inner strength until it’s tested. The divorce question? My friends and I always say, “how happy are we supposed to be?”. No one is happy all the time and happy is what you make of it. I do think if the marriage is holding back a significant part of your well being and you have tried, divorce can be the right time, but it’s hard…the hardest thing I’ve ever done for sure.
Thanks so much for sharing, and for this balanced view.
You should look up my blog entry, “The Secret to Happiness.” I agree 100%!