Monthly Archives: November 2014

21 Days to (More? Better? Some?) Inner Peace for Single Parents

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As a little kid, did you fantasize about getting up in the middle of the night alone to deal with your sick child, realizing their vomiting would cost you hundreds of dollars in lost income? To get up in the dark to finish laundry, do dishes, and get kids organized for school? For years? To deal with phone calls from the school regarding your son’s behavior either alone or with someone who would blame you for their mistakes? Did you look forward to the shock of meeting a virtual stranger at a coffee shop (realizing the person you thought they were while you were flirting and salaciously texting for 2 weeks is far from what you thought they were)? Did you imagine you would need to move, and then move again, and perhaps even 3 more times, before finding the affordable home for you to raise your kids alone?

Being a single parent is not what we wished for or envisioned while making daisy chains in grade school. We didn’t imagine this lifestyle even existed while sinking hoops in 4th grade P.E. But maybe, just maybe (probably), it could turn out better than we could have ever imagined. I have been there, twice, in fact. I am twice-divorced. I have made many mistakes, but luckily fell in to the hands and books of wise sages who have helped to guide me from victimhood to health. I would not say I am completely healed, or completely healthy, completely prefect, or even completely sane. But I am complete. I am a single mother of 2 imperfect teenagers, and have been a student of this single parent business for over a decade.

I don’t know your situation, and don’t know how hard your battles are, or what you went through. But we can only start to have more harmony with our lives when we make a few changes, a few new habits. I want to share with you a few secrets I have learned to help you through this challenge in your life, to help you be proactive, to help us see the rewards in our hard work at making new habits. What would it feel like to move away from the merry-go-round spinning out of control and towards inner peace?

I wrote a book: 21 Days to More Inner Peace for Single Parents*.

There are actually 6 books in the works, with 6 habits for single parents to practice for 21 days each:
1. Be Present
2. Be Responsible
3. Build Community
4. Be Gratitude
5. Be Optimistic
6. Be Courageous

Book #1, Be Present is designed to help us get a fresh perspective, to allow our lives to unfold as divine gifts, not the mangled lost dream it occasionally feels like. It is a book with silly stories to laugh at my mistakes, hopeful inspiration from published sources you can delve more deeply into on your own, and some “easy” actions to help us on our journey to building the habit of being present. It takes 21 days of consistent effort to make a new habit part of our daily lives. So give me 10-15 minutes for 21 consecutive days (no skipping!). Obviously this is not psychoanalysis, or a 12-step program. I won’t turn you into the second Buddha, but see if your journey is a little more peaceful, a little more joyful, and a lot more purposeful.

“The best is yet to come”. E.E. Cummings

*For blog readers, you are actually reading it on my blog, but it will be available as an e-book. Please comment and let me know your opinions and ideas. Have I hit on anything real for you?

Acceptance, Letting Go, and Leaving Behind

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Here is a secret, Moms:
It is really hard to change habits, readjust after upheavals, and to consistently create peace of mind. Research says it takes 21 days to create a habit, but I have to work on it every day. And when I am not diligent, my brain gets pretty trashed out.

Peace of mind is a state of being that takes consistently hard work to accomplish. Being peaceful is NOT easy (and I hate that!). It actually requires a discipline of the mind, to have a peaceful mind. Weird, huh? I wish being peaceful were as easy and thoughtless as eating pop tarts.

Peace of mind requires acceptance, optimism, gratitude, and consistent efforts to live in the present.

1. Acceptance: Let it go.

If you are newly divorced, let the anger and resentment go. Frederick Beuchner defines anger and resentment (that lovely drunken teeth-gnashing engorgement on self-righteousness) as actually feasting on our own bones. We can hardly afford to lose bone mass when striving for balance to stand up in the world.

Lose the shame. We all mess up. We need to work very very hard on forgiving ourselves. But, we also need to assess the part we played. Was it really as big a role as they would have you think? Do you need to take on ALL the blame for things going so terribly wrong? Did you not have a costar in that tragedy? It is likely that your ex-partner had more than ample opportunities to help right the ship. How would it feel for us to share the burden of failed marriage rather than taking it all on our own shoulders? I may not be speaking to you, but many women do have a way of taking on all responsibility and all blame… (think about it, what habits did you inherit from your own mama?)

Leave behind the non-productive feelings. I am a great recycler. I can recycle old shame from 10 years ago, self-pity from 4th grade, bad judgement last night, failure to step up to the challenge 10 weeks ago, or any other less than stellar behavior I get triggered in to remembering. I am just as proficient as the next person at jumping on that hamster wheel, letting the monkey brain take control and letting the chatter go around and around in my brain. After I make them right if I wronged others, I purposely run/ski/yoga for looooong times to quiet the simians. Some people create gardens, paintings, songs, dance sequences, or stories to dismantle the hamster wheel our brain loves to create out of old thought trash. Our best and strongest muscles need to be engaged to tear down the tendency to dwell on shame, resentment, anger, and lack. That “stuff” is trash!

Next habits for peace of mind are
2. Optimism
3. Gratitude
4. Living in Present

But for today, for the next 21 days, focus on giving up the hamster wheel, dismantle it and the thoughts that run rampant circles around it. Trash gets stinky when allowed to sit around and fester. So every day, every morning, take 2 minutes and get rid of the crap.

Action Item for the day
-Write down the trashy thought that is recycling in your brain on a piece of paper. Next, think about how it is holding you back, and
-Write down the benefits of getting rid of it. How will you feel when you give it up?
-Tear the piece of paper up in to tiny little pieces, and ceremoniously sprinkle it in to the trash can, offering it to the universe to turn in to positive energy.

Mentally Visualize
-Put the trashy thoughts outside your bedroom, on the driveway, across the street, or in the lake when they try to get inside your brain in the middle of the night.
-Rinse the goop out of your brain as you take a long drink of water
-Wash the gunky energy off your body every morning
-Breathe the remenants out as vapor when you feel those thoughts creeping up your spine, into your brain

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