Don’t forget to live

We get so busy in life that we sometimes forget to live. We spend time capturing or recording a memory instead of just living in it. I read this last week and it was too good not to share on this topic.

Here is Bob Moorehead about the importance of the little things:

“The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things.

We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships.

These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.

Remember, to spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.

Remember, to say, “I love you” to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person might not be there again. Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.”

Let’s live this life. We only have one.

Discerning God’s Will

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I am always trying to discern God’s will. I have found that this is not an easy thing to do – at all – and as humans we tend to find what we’re looking for. We justify things, telling ourselves it must be God’s will. I cannot sit here and write this with a definitive answer. I don’t have one. If I did, I wouldn’t continue to take wrong turns in my life.

One thing I know is that God’s will is perfect, which is why it’s truly all I want. My problem is that I cannot get out of my own way. I know He must get so frustrated with me because I screw things up by trying to take over and control in an attempt to keep my expectations at bay and limit disappointments. Yet, I still worry. I still get scared. And I still feel disappointment. My very own subconscious strategy is working against me.

Something I read recently opened my eyes about this topic. It said that the mature Christian does not need to know what’s in it for him or herself. He or she asks for God’s will and says I am willing to do anything without even knowing what it means for me. This was really a different perspective for me to soak in. We are all inherently self-centered so of course when thinking of God’s will for MY life, I think about ME. Right? I mean, I also think about those that are most important to me, like my children and the rest of my family. What is really crazy are the stories in the Bible where parents left their children to follow God’s will. And God blessed them for it. We cannot even imagine that in the world we live in today. I can’t even come close to imagining that.

God dwells in each of us – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is also such a big concept for me to grasp. There are voices in our head and if we listen, all three will talk to us. I’ve been working really hard at this. We don’t have to speak or think to pray. We can just listen. The toughest part is deciphering God’s three voices versus the other two voices in our head – our own and Satan’s. Satan isn’t always dressed up in a red suit and horns. He has a way of telling you what you want to hear and how to make all of your earthly dreams come true. It can be the voice of laziness, self despair or greed, telling you it is ok. And the downward spiral begins when your own voice begins to believe it and then begins to tell yourself that is must be God’s will. I have listened to these voices go back and forth and it is still hard for me to know which one to listen to. But, as I pray and allow this quiet time to stop and listen, there are things that have become a lot more clear to me.

Discerning God’s will also becomes easier when you think about life only in 24-hour chunks. He gave us 24 hours in a day for a reason. I tend to get way too far ahead of myself, which is when I totally get in the way. Yesterday is over. Tomorrow is not promised. So, all we have in this moment is right now, today. We can forgive in a day. We can forget in a day. We can love in a day. We can give in a day. We can be sad in a day. We can be hopeful in a day. There are good days, bad days and better days. But it is always a new day. We can’t dwell in the bad days for longer than 24 hours. God gives us hope for tomorrow and we only have enough in us to successfully get through one day.

Come what may. As I started focusing only on the next 24 hours, I also tried to stopped forcing or chasing anything. I will do my best and do my part if I feel I need to take action (again, sometimes I do this and I absolutely shouldn’t), but otherwise I know that God’s will will be done. Because I pray for it to be. That means that I get to take the back seat and let him drive. I pray a lot on my way to work in the morning for God to surprise me today. This is HUGE for me because I’ve never liked surprises in my life. It’s why I can’t watch Iowa football without covering my eyes for at least three quarters of the game and for sure during every 3rd down no matter what side the ball is on. It is why I don’t care if someone tells me what happens at the end of a movie, why I read a few of the last pages before I get to the end of a book and why I tend to sometimes make impulsive decisions so it is definitive and done and I no longer have to wonder. I’ve realized over the past few months, however, that this is no way to live. God certainly does not intend for me to live this way. He wants me to walk in His path and delight in His will. There will be horrible times and times full of pain, but He promises to give us strength to get through these times. So, embracing the day, being surprised with what God has in store because I am walking by faith and not by sight and sitting back to let life come to me is my ultimate focus. What I do not wait for, however, is God’s calling to help others. I pray for him to open my eyes and see where He needs my help and if there is a heart that He can touch through me. This has seriously been as small as a smile, giving grace to someone, listening with love, talking about my story, or paying for a soda in the break room for someone because the machine wasn’t taking cash.

I am certainly not perfect and I am a big, huge sinner like all of us who fall short of the Glory of God. However, I am trying to get better and meet the person God created me to be – 24 hours at a time.

Insomnia and Divorce

Before I had kids, I didn’t think about sleep really at all. I pretty much always got enough of it and if there were a few nights I stayed out too late, I could catch up. And being in my early twenties, I could still go out and then go to class or work the next day and somehow function.

Then I had my daughter. I knew people said that babies keep you awake at all hours, but as a young mom, I don’t think I fully comprehended what that meant. In those moments in the middle of the night when I could hardly keep my eyes open to save my life, I learned that sleep is one precious commodity. I vowed to myself to never, ever take sleep for granted again. And thirteen plus years later, I still do not take it for granted.

At the point of getting separated, both of my children were very much past the waking up in the middle of the night stage. So, I had a few years of some very good sleep – of which I soaked in every single moment.  I didn’t think I’d ever have to face a sleeping shortage again. Well, I was wrong. I don’t know if anyone else who has been through a divorce experienced insomnia, but I sure did – and still do – to this day.

As I sit here writing this post, I’ve probably yawned ten times. Like bringing out the big guns yawns. I’ve been awake since 2:30 this morning when I woke up and simply could not get back to sleep.  I’ve adjusted to this lifestyle of many sleepless nights at this point. When I do have a night where I wake up less than two times, or a morning where I am able to sleep in a bit, I take full advantage. I take Benedryl, Advil PM and melatonin on occasion to at least help me go back to sleep if I wake up in the night. I usually do this when I know I have flexibility to sleep in the next morning. However, this strategy also backfires on me. I’ve learned that I can take one and it might work, but two gives me worse insomnia. That really annoys me.

There are several reasons why I link my insomnia to divorce. The most obvious reason is because it started at the same time. Also, at the beginning stages of divorce, it is rather difficult to live in what I call the limbo or in-between period. This is where you have made the decision to move forward, but so many pieces have to fall into place before you can really feel like you have somewhat of a normal life again. If you have kids, add a multiplier of stress to this time period.

I was numb for a long time even before my divorce, as I had to be strong and cope with things that wouldn’t have been possible for me to get through had I not blocked out emotion. It must’ve been a flight or fight instinct in me that pushed me to that point, as I really don’t think I would’ve been strong enough to get there on my own based on how emotional and sensitive I am at my core. Because of this, the transition or limbo period wasn’t as difficult on me as I have heard it’s been on other people. I think my limbo period just started years before my divorce, so I lived in it for a long time without even knowing it. While this might’ve made it a bit easier from an emotional standpoint, it was still a change with many, many unknowns.

I slept better when my kids were with me (and still do) because that seemed more normal. It was when I was alone that I never slept. I would even turn into a bit of gypsy and stay at my sister’s house or my parent’s house just to get some sleep versus zero sleep. I would avoid staying alone overnight if I could. The odd thing is I wanted to be alone and I spent many days all by myself because I didn’t want to go anywhere or see anyone, but when it got closer to bed time I would go stay somewhere else.

I remember the first Christmas Eve following my divorce. I didn’t have my kids, so after church I went to my third story condo all by myself and that’s when I cried – ugly cried to be exact. I knew I needed to stay there because I had to be Santa Claus and be there in the morning when their dad dropped them off to see what Santa delivered. That was a moment in time I will never forget. Looking back, getting through the year of firsts – just like with the grieving process – is what helps you get closer to a feeling of normalcy.

Eventually I just made myself stay alone no matter what. Some nights are still better than others. I get scared easily, so if I wake up to noises, it’s over and I’m not going back to sleep. But for the most part I am doing much better than in the beginning. I know if I continue to give time it’s proper time that one day I’ll be sleeping like a baby again.

How to be Friends and Co-Parent with Your Ex-husband

A lot of people actually ask me these questions about my ex-husband. How do you guys get along so well? He still comes to some of your family functions? You give him dating advice? All of you can still go to dinner together?

I don't know how I got so lucky in my divorce situation, but I really did. No one envisions divorce, nor is it any sort of an ideal situation to be in at all. However, sometimes it just IS. And once it's over, all you can do is make the very best of your situation for everyone involved, especially if that includes kids.

There has never been a time in the 4.5 years since being separated that we did not respect each other and didn't work through everything in order to be the best co-parents we could be. Some people don't understand this set up. They think there needs to be clear separation in order to move on – and in some instances I am sure this is more than 100% true. In situations with no kids, I can definitely see that being the best situation for everyone. There is also the quote from When Harry Met Sally that a man and a woman cannot be just friends because someone always wants more. I tend to believe that quote, but if there are boundaries set up front, I know it can work.

So, how do we do it? I've come up with the critical elements below.

  • Put first things first – your kid(s) – you have to start there. This will help shape how you want things to look and what you need to get past in order to make the best out of divorce for them. They didn't ask for this and part of them will always be affected by it. So it is your job to be mature and figure out how you will put them first. This also includes never bad mouthing your ex to the kids.
  • Be transparent with your kid(s) – having a friendly relationship with my ex-husband has caused some strife with my kids wondering why the heck we just can't be married if we get along? Being transparent does not mean to tell them every detail as to why you got divorced or anything they are not emotionally equipped to handle. It does mean that you let them know that you will be friends and co-parents for them because it is what they need and deserve. Letting them know up front that it doesn't mean you're going to get back together is a good idea.
  • Let go of the past – obviously there is muck or you wouldn't have gotten divorced. It is time to let go of the past and move on. Give grace, forgive and see the best in your ex so you can be the best version of yourself in this situation for your kids.
  • Set clear boundaries with each other and your families – this is probably the biggest element. Someone probably might want more (or be misled to think there is a chance) if you don't set clear boundaries. This includes boundaries with your families, because there might be some instances where it is best to keep things separate and not always be together at family events, unless it's one of the kids' birthdays. My family tends to go overboard and wants to include all of the time when that is not necessarily the best set-up, either. There needs to be space and you need to determine what that space should look like, as well as let others in your close circle know.
  • Actually be friends – my ex-husband and I talk about things going on with the kids, but we also ask how work is going, how his favorite team did in the game, and he even asks me for dating advice. I give it to him because all I want is to see him move on and be happy. And I want to help pick out my kids' stepmom – I am kind of selfish with this one! Just the other day, I helped him decide to send flowers to the girl he has been dating and made sure to tell him at this early point in their relationship to make them fresh flowers with a fun and flirty message, not red roses with a creepster message. And it totally worked and scored him some big points. I live for that.
  • Be transparent about the set-up and expectations when you do enter a relationship with someone else – I saved this one for last because it can be tricky. Not everyone will be ok with me being friends with my ex-husband. And that's ok. I will make it clear up front what the situation is, though. I will be loyal to who I am in a relationship with, but he has to be open to this in some way or it will not work. In my last relationship, my ex-husband graciously bowed out of many things in order to give the guy I was dating the chance to be with my family alone.

So there's my advice on how to be friends with your ex-husband. It isn't always easy, and most people will look at you funny, but I have learned that there is no "right" way to do divorce. You need to do what works for your situation. I also understand that in a lot of cases there is one side that absolutely will not cooperate, even for the kids. That is unfortunate but I know it is reality. There is also abuse involved and other things that make it not possible. I understand that. In those situations, all you can do is be the best parent you can be on your own for your kids.

I'd love to hear how about other people's co-parenting solutions!

How to Think Like a Man

So. One thing I’ve learned in my old age is that women are different than men. I know, right. I’m sure I knew this back on the playground when we were chasing them and they were running away…or throwing things at us. It certainly didn’t stop us, though. I see this in my daughter today – I told her just last weekend that boys like it when girls are chill and don’t snap them…like 20 times in a row. She acknowledged that and then responded with, “But, mom, self-control is so hard.” I hear ya kid.

I can be thinking about everything that is going on in my life at practically the same time. Some things might get a little more focus than others, but the rest of it is never too far away. I can switch back and forth like a ninja – all while holding a conversation with someone, driving, or seeing something that makes me think about one of these things.  I can switch mid-conversation to another topic and then pick up right where the other topic left off like nothing happened (although my memory is starting to disappoint me a bit the older I get.) I am not unlike many women. We are experts at the above.

Where we go wrong is we try to do the above with men. Aaaannd…it doesn’t work. I do this with text messaging all the time. Instead of just letting the one thought float out there, if another one happens to pop into my mind before I get a response to the first one, I go ahead and add in the new thought, too. Because, well, that makes sense to me, and why wouldn’t someone want to weed through and respond to three completely different topics in one text string? This also makes complete sense to my daughter, mom, sisters and girlfriends. And, you can totally tell it in our text messages with random gifs that practically switch topics for us. How much fun is that?! Guys? Oh…not that much fun?

There is actually a marketing lesson here – know your audience.  I’ve done a little research (completely non-scientific) and discovered that most men don’t skip around from topic to topic like most women do – they don’t like it and it’s not easy for them to do so, either. This means that they are able to keep their feelings and emotions about one topic separate from other things. Oh my goodness. I wish I had this quality. For example, if he is at work, he is AT WORK. He is in his work compartment, worrying about work stuff, thinking about work stuff and talking about work stuff. Sure, he can talk about other things with his co-workers or even send some texts to his significant other, but unless there is something else that is totally taking over his mind at the moment – he is at work and only at work.

Now, if he’s with his buddies watching football and drinking beer, this is safe zone. No one is nagging, there is no one to impress…and he is truly only in this compartment, needs this compartment and does not want to feel like this compartment will ever be forced away from him. I once asked a guy who was about to propose to his girlfriend what percentage of his time he needed for this “bro” time. I thought his answer was more than fair. He said only counting his free time outside of work and other obligations, it would be 73/27 – that is 73% with his significant other and 27% with his bros. I then asked the guy next to him (who was married) and he said 40/60 – that is 40% with his significant other and 60% with his bros. Interesting, huh.

If women took a little step back and tried an ounce harder to understand the compartments enough to not make him jump from one to the other like a ping pong game and let him enjoy his favorite ones fully and enough (I do think the 27% is enough if they feel it is not restricted), there would be a lot less frustration in relationships. Just like if men tried an ounce harder with women and wrote them more notes out of the blue, sent flowers on a completely random day, gave them compliments other than being beautiful, came home with their favorite take-out, made them dress up for a surprise date they already had planned…you get the drift…

Women – try and see if you can tell what compartment he is in. Then, try to stay there with him and only move onto the next if he moves on. See what happens. Then comment and let me know.

Men – try to make more of an effort in showing her that you are thinking about her and that she is special to you. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been together. She still needs it. And the smallest actions will go a lot farther than you can imagine. Then comment and let me know how it goes.

Life really is as simple as this

I’m making a vow to myself right now. This is like a moment when there is a line drawn in the sand – a before this and an after this.  I’ve been living life too much on my thoughts, hopes and wishes. I have the greatest dreams and goals, but life keeps getting in the way of me truly pursuing them. Like for real pursuing them. I do little things here and there, however I do not do enough to ACT and have a relentlessness energy to run after what sets my soul on fire.

I was spending my 15 minutes loving myself today and this was my revelation.  It is time for me to just do – even if the road looks long – I’m going to chunk it down so each day is manageable and I truly do something that matters in the pursuit of the dreams and goals I have for myself and my children.

I need to figure out exactly what this looks like, but I am at a point where I know I am ready to take some crazy action. And possibly some risks, which is a little scary for this kind of, sort of risk-adverse person. God is putting things on my heart for a reason, so it’s time for me to take a step closer to the woman He wants me to be, with my eyes closed and standing firm in my faith. I want to allow myself to be surprised beyond belief at what faith can do if you not only fully surrender, but fully ACT.

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