The next step …

Initially when I was thrust unexpectedly into the world of divorce I could not cope. In order to survive, I put aside major decisions and strategic steps that would eventually need to be taken. I carved off one aspect to navigate at a time. I would then push through with each step until I was able to cope with that before moving onto the next. Sometimes it was not possible to deal with only one thing at a time simply because there was so much to deal with. It was still overwhelming. However, I did put aside everything that could be left. That was how I coped, putting things aside.

Gradually I worked through many steps that at first I thought I would not be able to handle – grieving for my lost marriage and intact family unit, overcoming the emotional aspects of abandonment and betrayal, finding my inner strength, selling the business, pushing through with all the legal and financial processes of the marital property settlement, and closing down all the joint legal entities until …

I was physically, emotionally, legally and financially alone. Me.

However, before I can really say that I have left behind my marriage in its entirety, there is one major hurdle left to do. Selling my home. My home has been my sanctuary over the past 35 years. It has seen me through the birth of all my children and their growing up years. It has welcomed friends, family, colleagues and community groups through its doors. It has provided me with a sanctuary as I have navigated triumphs and tragedies. As the children grew up and moved on, it remained a strength for me, saving many memories of their song and laughter within its walls…

My home looks out to the east to this vista:

Across the valley

It is comforting to rise and watch the sunrise each morning, coming up over my valley.

Even when the sun doesn’t rise, the valley still provides me with peace and privacy.

BCR_2002_050When my husband left me, my home and valley remained behind as my constant, the one thing in my life I could rely on. That reliability, that the sun would rise each day, that the valley would remain, was reassuring for me. In my busy frenetic navigating divorce ‘I-am-overwhelmed’ days, the valley would tug me back to make sure I paid gratitude for the day and be at peace with myself. Now my days are not so frantic, and I love having the time to sit in the warmth of the morning sun, drink in that sunshine, look out to the peaceful valley, and reflect in the peace and quiet.

In those early raw days, I could not bear the thought of ever moving. My home was all I had left of who I had been and the life I had led. I didn’t want to leave me behind. However, I have come to realize my home is also a constant reminder of my past life, our marital life, a life that I now wish to leave behind me. Over the past six months, I have spent some time moving about between my mother’s place and spending time with my friends and family, and especially more time with my grand-daughters. Or I have stayed home. Each time I come home, I am no longer getting that feeling of protection or security from my home. Instead I am feeling constrained, even imprisoned. Imprisoned in the past, blocked from the future. There are little flashes of hurtful memories here and there keeping me back in the past. There are little pieces of present commitments to my home, stopping me moving on to my future.

I thought after the trauma of the drawn-out marital settlement finally being over, with the death of my mother coming about the same time, I would take a year to just sit back in the comfort of my home before I moved on. I thought that I would need that year, that I would want that year. I don’t.

There is, of course, a fair bit to do in order to make that happen. That is my next project. To make it happen.



My H.E.A.L.T.H. plan – A is for Active – how doing ‘something’ every day grew to 10,000 steps

ID-10043382.digitalartTwo years ago I wrote a post on how my attempts at engaging in an exercise programme (such as running or going to the gym) repeatedly failed. That was because it was an all or nothing approach that I took. I would do lots of exercise. I would get sick of that. Then I would slip back into doing nothing at all.

At that point in time when I wrote that post, which was I might add a fairly intense period of my life when I was extremely busy, I resolved instead to simply do ‘something’ every day, whether that was a short walk or housework or similar.

Life unfolded again and again after that and so getting myself into a proper exercise programme was indeed out of the question. I simply could not commit that time as there was too much else going on in my life. However, I kept up with doing ‘something’. I told myself I had to do a minimum of ten minutes a day. That does not sound very much and indeed it isn’t and that is the point. There was simply no excuse for not being able to find at least ten minutes a day. But what that ten minutes became was a commitment to myself that no matter how bleak the day was, no matter how overwhelming the tasks in front of me were, I always deserved those ten minutes for me, for my health, for my well being.

The ten minutes grew to fifteen and then to twenty. I came to really enjoy those twenty minutes each day where generally I would go for a walk after breakfast. I kept up that twenty minutes through rain, hail, and sunshine.

Since I began my H.E.A.L.T.H.plan where I resolved to take fifty weeks or one year to get my health fully back on track [giving myself two weeks off over Christmas :) ] and especially the last four months since the final ending of the marital settlement, I have been doing even more. The morning walk has gradually increased to forty minutes a day, and each afternoon I go into town and by doing so clock up an extra twenty minutes of walking. Then I have been giving the house a much-needed spring clean, room by room. It is amazing how many ‘something’ minutes are clocked up when you become a better house-keeping person. Last, but not least, a definite advantage of sorting the boxes upon boxes in the garage, is the fact that it has added to the little bits of ‘something’ that I have been doing.

A few weeks ago, I downloaded a fitness app onto my phone that counts the number of steps I do a day. I was so excited when the first day I used it I clocked up 10,000 steps which the app told me is more active that 94% of the population. Some days I have clocked up 15,000. I have never considered myself a fitness freak and indeed I hate exercise and it did give me a thrill to realize that I was doing more than 94% of the population, simply by doing ‘something’ over and over throughout the day.

I have found the app is good as it does motivate me to go that extra distance, park the car a few blocks from where I need to so that I need to walk there and back and that adds up to my daily score. The children have similar ones on their phones or ones on their wrists and we text each other as to the steps we have done each day. So this has given me something to share with my children even though they are not with me – the enthusiasm for becoming more active. And now they are running and going to the gym to get their scores up, as they have to do that (after a sedentary day at work) in order to keep up with Mum who is simply doing ‘something’ – and more and more of it – every single day.




My H.E.A.L.T.H. plan – E for eating matters

ID-10082821.debspoonsEating matters to me, not only for my health and vitality, but also for my social interactions, for my sense of belonging and for participating in the celebrations of life. Unfortunately, over the past decades other reasons have clouded my judgement in choosing what is best for my long-term health and I had put on weight.

Earlier this year – once the pressure of the business and its sale lifted from my shoulders – I put my head up and looked around. I did not like what I saw. While I had my head down focussing on the crises I had been thrown into, the whole world had changed. Two-thirds of society had become overweight or obese. And I had joined them. I had gone from being ‘normal’ to being ‘normal’ – even though I had put on weight. I was still ‘normal’. I was ‘average’. I was one of the crowd. Yet I knew that, in this case, being normal (or average) and being overweight was not good for me. So I had this task ahead of me, to think of my weight in terms of ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’ rather than being ‘normal’ (or fat or thin). I had to think so highly of myself that I could cut through societal pressure to be ‘one of the gang’ when ‘the gang’ put the supposed pleasures of indulging in fine eating and drinking (all the time!) ahead of what is good for me. I had to break out of that thinking pattern.

This was a tough call, to change the way I thought about myself, to see myself as being ‘different’ from others and yet where I wanted to be – in the ‘healthy’ third of the population. To do that I had to take care of myself and I had to believe that I mattered enough to get there. This was a big step, to have a vision to become that person, to want to be that person, that healthy person, and do what was required to get there.

I formulated a plan to get me back into the healthy weight range. The plan included all aspects of my eating needs and my social interactions so it would not fail. It has become what I see as my sensible eating plan for life.

This is a summary of my H.E.A.L.T.H.plan for my own Eating matters:

1. I eat for my good health, to establish and maintain myself in the healthy weight range, avoid obesity and the development (or at least delaying the onset) of the diseases of western society, in particular heart disease and diabetes.
2. For the enjoyment of connection with others and participation in celebrations.
3. As a response to hunger, not boredom, stress, reward, or prestige.

Who to consider
1. Me. In this space I am my first consideration. When on my own, I eat ultra-healthy foods.
2. When connecting with family, friends, colleagues; I eat mainly healthy foods and portion control moderately healthy foods.
3. I plan for any celebrations, allowing myself an indulgence or two.

1. I eat at planned mealtimes and take a break at those times. No excuses.
3. I always eat breakfast.
3. I schedule planned ‘mini-meals’, not impulsive snacks.
4. I eat an early dinner and avoid eating afterwards.

1. I eat sitting down and use a knife, fork, spoon or teaspoon (except healthy snacks).
2. I have full control over my eating. It does not control me.
3. I resist manipulation by food manufacturers.

1. I eat at home, dining area at work or friends or a la carte restaurant/cafe.
2. I avoid fast-food restaurants, food swamps and impulse food snacks.
3. I never eat in my car, at my desk, in front of TV, or while walking.

1. I eat real food.
2. I drink water for thirst
3. I avoid drinking my calories/kilojoules.
4. I have the planned occasional indulgence of less healthy foods.

Which foods
1. I eat a balanced amount of core foods from the basic food groups.
2. I do not “diet” or avoid any food category such as carbs or fats.
3. I avoid the sixth good group (fatty foods, sweetened foods/drinks, junk food).

I am pleased to report that nine months after changing my approach to myself I reached my healthy goal weight, three months earlier than my aim. My blood lipid levels are extraordinarily very low, my blood glucose levels well within the normal range, and I am feeling fit, healthy and happy. Moreover I am enjoying connections with loved ones and at times of celebrations knowing that any eating indulgences at those times are within my healthy eating plan.



Checking in …


ID-100127686.africaI have been away from the blogging world for a few weeks for several reasons and thought I would check in briefly to let you know those reasons and what I have been up to.

# 1. I spent two weeks at my mother’s place with my sister, writing return thank-you cards and sorting out some of my mothers things.

# 2. I had a knee injury for a few weeks so could not sit at my desk. All is OK now.

# 3. My internet connection became too slow and it was irritating waiting and watching that swirling little circle. Sending an email with an attachment took forever. Writing a blog-post became frustrating. Uploading a picture became impossible. So for a few weeks I gave up trying. It is amazing all the things I have achieved away from my desk and the internet!

# 4. My son and his wife will be doing house extensions. With temporary accommodation lined up but the building construction delayed, an opportunity arose for me to spend some time in that accommodation for the two months before they have to move in. So two weeks ago – like an excited teenager – I loaded my car (station wagon) with trundle bed, linen, kitchen gear etc and went off on an adventure to Hobart. It was fantastic staying near the grand-children sharing in their daily lives yet having my own space. I will now be spending every second week down there until early December.
Alas! There is no internet connection in the flat and trying to connect via phone hot-spot is too expensive so there will be no chance for me to sign in when I am there either.

# 5. I have been helping my son with some aspects of a book he is writing.

# 6. I closed the company down. That could not be done until all the financial transactions of the company had been completed which happened on 30 September. The company was closed on 07 October. That was the last step of legal separation from my husband.

# 7. I have been clearing out the shed. The 600 boxes are now down to 260!

Most of this has been business records to either burn, dump or archive. This has been a massive task for me and something that I have been putting off. It is the thing that has taken up most of my time over the past two months and probably deserves a post of its own. In summary for now, it has been a positive thing to finally start on this as it represents me letting go of my old life. I needed to do that in order to move on. I am now really wanting to get that task done. I need to get rid of my old life in order to make space for the new. I am motivated. It is the vision of my new life that is driving me to now get this done.

# 8. I have been keeping up with my H.E.A.L.T.H.plan and will up update you soon.

# 9. I have had my hair done, spent time at the library, had some health-checks, started on some early Christmas shopping, spent time with my children, spent time on the phone chatting to people, and spent some time cooking and experimenting with meals.

# 10. I have been doing a lot of reading and research. A lot of this is in preparation for the next chapter in my life. That is where I want to be at the moment – getting ready. How fantastic to have so much time to spend on reading. That is the me in the picture at the top (except I have blond hair). See the smile on my face. That is me in my element.

What have you noticed about all the above points?

They are all NORMAL things.  :)







ID-100175191.Stuart.MilesHaving been wounded by betrayal by the one whom I gave my heart to (my husband) I am finding that I am reacting to actions of others and exaggerating the hurt when they act below my expectations, although they would never intentionally cause me pain.

This is compounded by my mother’s death as my mother was my rock and I am expecting others to be a substitute rock for me. When I discover that other people are not as strong as she was or not as supportive of me or accepting of my limitations, I am seeing that as betrayal, rather than me accepting other people as flawed individuals who try their best but do not always achieve the strength of wisdom that my mother had.

So minor incidents with loved ones upset me and I begin to hear those annoying voices in my head again ‘you are not good enough’, ‘you do not matter’, ‘you are are hopeless’. However, after brief reflection I realize they are voices springing back from the betrayal and are not the voices of disappointment at this time.

I recognize the difference.

Disappointment is when others voice displeasure at something I have done or not done. This is different from betrayal where there is a lack of respect for me as a person.

Disappointment is when a loved one cannot put my interest first as they have other obligations, goals and loved ones as their priorities. This contrasts with betrayal where my interests are completely disregarded.

Disappointment is when I realize that a loved one does not share all my values or beliefs, rather than betrayal when a loved one does not accept me for who I am.

Disappointment is when someone cannot eliminate my pain and discomfort. This is not betrayal which is broken trust.

Disappointment is when I am expecting loved ones to be strong for me.
Acceptance is the slow realization, that it is I who must be strong.

In dealing with disappointment, I have come to accept my loved ones for who they – both their strengths and weaknesses. Disappointments stem from differences of preferences or unrealistic expectations. Preferences can be negotiated or compromised. Expectations can be re-framed into something more realistic.

Acknowledging my disappointment, and with it sadness at the loss of my expectations, provides me with an opportunity for personal reflection. I may then accept the situation for what it is, accept others for who they are, and focus on realistic goals for my future.




What it means to have ‘time off’ – permanently


For the past forty years it seems my life has been one hectic event after another – marriage and travel and children and work and community involvement and celebrations.

I had holidays, of course, but they were always squeezed in between one hectic period and another. There was always the ‘working through into the night’ to get things done in the days before in order to be able to get away or have time off, then more of the same catching up on my return. Business things, house things, community things, family things. In many ways it was never ever a true break as there were always thoughts in my head about things waiting for me on my return.

Now … that isn’t the case.
Such is the joy of my ‘permanent time off’ (I hesitate to call it retirement) days.

I have mixed feelings.

In some ways I feel a bit lost with no sense of purpose. For so long I absolutely craved this time with nothing to do. Now that it is here, I feel a bit aimless, a little lifeless, with thoughts each morning of ‘what will I do today?’ Some days the answer comes back as ‘not much’ and that feels scary. On other days, however, the answer comes in ‘whatever you like’ and a warm fuzzy feeling of sheer bliss washes over me.

Another significant thing that I have mixed feelings about is that I am now more truly alone. While I was working, there were always the people at work who knew where I was (or at least where I was supposed to be) and when. Now there is no-one. There is no-one to report my subtle little daily activities to. I can go out, or not go out. I can have a really busy day or I can do nothing. And no-one knows. If I go out and do not get home, there is no-one to know that I haven’t. I could disappear and no-one would know for hours. The advantage to that is that I only have to answer to myself. If I have a ‘restful’ day, I no longer feel lazy. (Thanks to my blogging friend Julie for this insight). If I write a few letters or make a sandwich – I can count that as satisfactory achievements for the day and there is no-one to say otherwise. I can feel good about everything I do.

A third significant thing is the drop in emails and mail that I am getting. A lot. While at first it was strange to check and find that there was nothing there, after a few months of this, I now find that sometimes I even forget to check. While initially it made me feel ‘unloved’, I now think this is fantastic! It is probably the most significant change in my life. I am no longer glued to my phone or computer, on edge as to to how many emails need answering and the work that each one means to me.

Lastly, there is my now (almost) non-existent ‘to-do’ list. There is no downside to that, just the joy in the disappearance of the constant feeling of ‘how on earth am I going to find time to deal with all this’. The to-do list is gone. The feeling of dread is gone.

So what do I do?

I open the blinds in the morning to let the sun shine in.

Then I take my day as it comes.

And sometimes I go outside and smell the roses.

Oh what luxury! :)




My H.E.A.L.T.H. plan – H for headstrong.

ID-100239270.PrawnyAt the beginning of the year I wrote an initial post about how, in this first year of my new beginnings, I wanted to focus on me and getting my health and fitness to a level I was happy with. I devised a H.E.A.L.T.H. plan for myself of

Headstrong Eating and Active Lifestyle Transition Habits

My plan captures everything I want from life. Good health. Sensible eating. Becoming more active. A balanced lifestyle of self, family, stability, relaxation, social connections, career, creativity, home, celebrations, and community. I decided to give myself time to transition into my meaningful life, find my life’s purpose and form habits so I could do this for life!

The lapse in my writing has been that it has taken me a while to decide what the first ‘H’ would stand for. Now that I am seven months down the track I realize my plan began with devising it, thinking it through, and researching the best ways of becoming fit and healthy for my age and lifestyle. All that happened in my head – the logical part of me.

However, my head is also the part with little voices that sometimes do me undone. Those voices that say ‘what is the point’, ‘you have tried before and failed’, ‘you are not strong enough’, ‘you cannot fight your genetic make-up’ … and so on. There are also voices of other people and society-accepted norms pushing me into dietary or lifestyle choices that do not serve me well. I needed to find the strong voice inside me to counteract that which had previously dragged me down. I did that by creating a vision in my head of a healthy and fit me, and a prevention of diseases of affluence such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. I devised my own dietary and lifestyle plans with choices that would benefit me and lead me to my vision. I believed in those choices and became committed to my vision of a healthier me. That conviction was so strong that the voices within me also became strong – strong  enough that I no longer became swayed by others or unexpected events or my own inner negative voices that tried to pull me against my choices. I became strong enough to defend my choices.

So the first step on my road to better health began with my mind, creating my vision, devising a plan, committing to it, and developing a strong voice within me to persevere with my plan and defend my lifestyle choices.

My first step was to become headstrong.

My journey continues …