I have changed my mind

ID-100170157 - master isolated imagesI have changed my mind on a few issues surrounding my divorce.

(Disclaimer: My apologies to all those in happy, healthy, monogamous, caring, understanding relationships with partners who love being together and yet who give each other space to be individuals.)

1. Previous thought: I was abandoned.
New thought: I was set free

2. Previous thought: I have no-one to protect me.
New thought: I have no-one to hold me back.

3. Previous thought: I have suffered intolerable losses of assets and income.
New thought: I do not have to stress about what someone else is spending.

4. Previous thought: I am alone in making tough decisions.
New thought: I am able to make my own choices – on absolutely everything.

5. Previous thought: I do not have a soul-mate to share my life with.
New thought: I do not have to compromise on anything, especially values and beliefs.

6. Previous thought: I am trapped in this prison between past and future.
New thought: I am in this wonderful place of now.

I am free. 🙂

 

_____________________________________________________________________________

 

Image courtesy[master isola]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

Peace, fairness and divorce

“Peace involves inevitable righteousness, justice, wholesomeness, fullness of life, participation in decision making, goodness, laughter, joy, compassion, sharing and reconciliation. “ Desmond Tutu

ID-100129604In a recent post, I listed resources I felt I needed in order to move forward. I left out peace. When I read Desmond Tutu on peace in the quote above, I realised I was trying to race to joy, fulfillment and reconciliation without addressing justice. My last post outlined my struggle between justice (fairness) and mercy (forgiveness/compassion). Nowhere has that been more apparent than in the ending of my marriage.

I considered myself an equal partner in marriage right up to the moment my husband said he was leaving. In that instant he became judge, jury and executioner. I became the victim who was denied just reward, denied a fair trial, and who received punishment. My ‘punishment’ included an emotional crisis, a legal and financial mess (together with the burden of sorting it out), and an uncertain future.

When you become a victim, you can either stay there and become bitter, or you can work through things to get to a better place. This may mean moving forward, taking corrective action, or simply letting some things go.

Just reward (my marriage)

See the picture of the girl plucking grapes from the vine? That is the child within me, believing if I became well educated, if I worked hard, if I sowed the seeds of love and care with my partner; then I would reap rewards. For a long time, I felt I was denied my just reward. I was denied my time in the sunshine, with my partner of forty years caring for each other, with a comfortably secure retirement.

I have now let that go by looking kindly towards a different, yet exciting future for me.

Turning ‘punishment’ into ‘opportunity’ (my divorce)

ID-100200640I was thrust into the horrors of grief/trauma and the overwhelming burden of our financial disentanglement processes.  Whilst I felt otherwise for a long time, I believe handling this with grace and dignity has become a signature strength of mine which will serve me well in the future. I have become a stronger better person for what happened and how I handled this unexpected “opportunity” for personal growth.

Compassion (my life)

In keeping with the topic at hand (peace), I had to resolve within me my attitude towards my partner of forty years, the father of my children. Deep inside I am a caring person unable to intentionally hurt anyone. When I am wronged, although harder, I keep acting on that deep-seated value. That is, no matter what cruelty is shown to me, I cannot go against my own values by being cruel back. Therefore relatively early, I allowed myself to forgive my husband, and let go of any need for revenge. I continued showing him respect.

I believe I have acted by my own values of forgiveness and compassion.

Fairness?

Big failure.

Fair trial (the decision)

When your partner of forty years leaves you suddenly with no discussion, to begin with you believe that somehow you deserved it. You think there must have been something that you did or did not do to warrant that action.

Now I believe this: regardless of any issues that did or did not exist in our marriage, fairness would have allowed me equal participation in the decision, fairness would have allowed me some discussion, fairness would have allowed our marriage to resolve or dissolve on its own merits before he became entangled in another relationship.

I have let forgiveness, compassion and being “nice” overrun that need of fairness to me. In the over two years since separation, I have never expressed to him my feelings on our marriage’s end, or the manner in which it ended. By showing compassion to him, yet falling silent on my own feelings, I may have allowed him to think that I felt his actions were fair and reasonable.

Whilst I cannot undo what was done, I can begin to speak up for myself. I can find the courage to say “I too deserve fairness, consideration, compassion and respect.”

___________________________________________________________________

Image[africa]:FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Thanks to Louise, x2, Jolyn and coastalmom for recent posts and comments on this topic. You have helped enormously.

The Financial Catastrophe of Divorce #1. Sinking

ID-100176380.earthquake.Cooldesign

This is the seventh in a series of posts on ‘My Responsibilities’.

No-one likes to talk about money and I am going to break through that barrier and talk about it anyway. We talk about happiness yet are reluctant to admit the part money plays in that or its role in our sense of security, one of our basic needs.

To comprehend the financial impact of divorce, there are issues to be understood.

A. Where Does Money Come From?

  1. Superannuation, retirement funds, investments, savings.
  2. Earnings through employment, business.
  3. Government pensions, charity, inheritance

B. What Are Our Needs From Money?

  1. Essential Needs: Shelter, basic living costs.
  2. Non- Essential. Lifestyle, discretionary, savings, gifting, debt reduction.

C. How Much Money Is Enough?

Studies show increased stress in people who cannot meet essential needs. Above that, happiness levels rise to a point. Thereafter, increasing levels of income do not produce a greater level of happiness.

D. How Much Money Do I Need?

Approaching sixty, I would be happy if I owned my home, was debt-free, had adequate retirement funds to provide a comfortable lifestyle, with a little savings tucked away. I am not there yet.

E. What Is a Comfortable Lifestyle?

A basic lifestyle provides only for essentials. A modest lifestyle provides some non-essential items such as insurance, communication and owning your own car. A comfortable lifestyles allows some lifestyle choices such as occasional travel, entertainment and hobbies but nothing extravagant.

You need to account for higher costs in clothes and transport if working, additional costs if you have dependents, any house mortgage / debts, and amounts to put away in savings.

What Is The Impact Of Divorce?

I was travelling along earning a living, leading a comfortable lifestyle, and accumulating savings. After divorce it will be gone – the accumulated savings, the comfortable lifestyle, the means of earning a living.

(a) Depleted asset base

Approaching sixty, we had our house and investments for retirement. One important point to understand in divorce is that, even though one may have a sound ‘total asset’ base, as far as providing for living costs into the future, only those assets available for investment can be counted, not those funds tied up in the home. Come divorce, there are two houses to come out of our total asset pool, one for me, one for him.

The remainder of our assets are crumbling away in divorce costs, forced sale of investments in a poor economic climate, and the impact of the divorce on the business value. This depleted asset base will be halved and the resultant asset base for each will be about one fifth our original investment base. This is, looking at part A above, a catastrophic change to financial affairs for someone approaching retirement.

(b) Earnings through employment or business

My new asset base, if I retired today, would struggle to provide me with basic living costs throughout my retirement years. As that is distressing, I initially chose to continue with the business. After my epiphany, and wanting closure on our previous life, the business will now go. There goes the second source of money from part A above, the means of earning a living.

(c) Impact On Lifestyle

As a single person, my living costs are as much as three quarters of that of a couple, yet the financial ramifications of divorce will see me losing both my source of earnings and sound asset base.

I have pondered and researched these impacts. What I have learned is:

1) I am better off than many. After divorce, some end up with just their home, no home and / or mountains of debt.

2) What I previously thought was ‘comfortable’, was in fact a ‘luxury’ lifestyle, (though still not extravagant). What I previously thought were ‘essentials’ (such as owning a car and having insurance), are in fact discretionary.

3) Money does not make you happy. Inner peace makes you happy. However, there is a minimum money requirement for peace and happiness. If you don’t believe me, watch this closing movie scene where Will Smith finds himself out of the soup kitchens into secure employment.

How I plan to provide  myself with a level of happiness that, for me, means a ‘comfortable’ lifestyle will be the topic of my next 2 posts.

Image courtesy of [CoolDesign]: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My home. My sanctuary.

ID-100148226

This is the sixth in a series of posts on ‘My Responsibilities’

After food and shelter, one of our primal basic needs is safety, peace and comfort. This can be provided by a place, a person, an activity, or by a combination of these. I wrote about my own need for stability in an earlier post. Previously my marriage provided me with this feeling as no matter where I went, what I did, or whatever adversities befell me; I felt safe and secure. Since my marriage collapsed, I have gained this sense of stability and comfort from my home. From my childhood days of playing ‘house’ to a strong nesting instinct when pregnant, I have always been aware of the comfort my home provides me. I have clung on to my home as my source of refuge, as my relief from distress and turmoil, as my source for solitude, as a means of feeding my mothering instincts with visits from my family. It has been my one constant in the unravelling of my previous life.

Whilst I have been comforted staying in my home since my marriage ended, and initially revelling in living my way within its walls, I have grown to realise that it has actually been living our life, my way, rather than making a new life of my own. Since my epiphany I have been striving to break free to live my life. This will mean a gradual process of selling the business, the commercial property housing the business, then selling my home to release capital for retirement. At that point it will mean leaving behind my one constant, my sanctuary.

For a period after my epiphany, my mind fast-forwarded to where I would be in about 3 years and I resented being where I was. I was coming home alone at night to the cold and dark. It was dreary and depressing. I began neglecting my home. Then the downward spiral began of neglect, followed by being overwhelmed by what it would take to get back routine and order, followed by losing the sense of comfort it previously provided, to seeing only a mountain of work and yet another thing I have to face.

Being uplifted by my daughter visiting last week, the sun coming out this weekend, and early spring flowers beginning to bloom, I have now recharged. In the spirit of my recent posts on responsibilities, I have taken on board getting my home back in order and restoring it as my sanctuary, yet also preparing it for my eventual move. At the same time, I will spend this transition period drinking in the last remaining time I have here, taking in every sunrise, looking at every blossoming flower, watching the moods of the river and valley opposite, reliving every happy memory I have had here with my children, of our previous happy family life. Then, when all that is done, it will be time for me to move on.

Plans to make MY Home MY Sanctuary

1. De-clutter immediate space.
2. Rid the house of ‘our’ stuff.
Note: I had previously rid myself of ‘his’ stuff. It is time for the next step.
3. Go in small manageable steps; one drawer, one cupboard, one box at a time.
4. Pack up ‘our’ stuff. Send it to him for him to deal with.
5. Avoid further clutter by not buying any more ‘stuff’.
6. Have a look around at everything left and decide whether I really need it or not.
7. Chuck out anything I don’t need, anything not used for two years, gifts given to me I don’t really want, clothes that will never fit again, and anything kept ‘just in case’.
8. Enjoy the space and freedom a minimalist habit without ‘stuff’ brings.
9. Revel in the peace and calmness that has taken the place of ‘stuff’.
10. Develop a routine to keep things this way by putting away things when not in use, having a quick daily tidy-up and a proper fortnightly one. Resolve to do an annual clean-up.
11. Look out and enjoy the views to the valley and the river every day.
12. Keep smiling and stay calm.

“I am responsible to maintain my home as a refuge of joy, peace, comfort and relaxation.”

Image courtesy of [amner]: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My wants

Needs_wants

“I’m here to be me, which is taking a great deal longer than I had hoped”.
Anne Lamont

I have recently written a series of posts exploring my needs. Thinking through those needs led me one day to have an epiphany, a sudden realisation of where my life was actually heading. So very clearly that day I could see that I did not want that. That direction was not right for any of my needs, for my health, my stability, my financial security, for my need to be needed. It made me take a good hard look and understand the difference between what I thought I should be doing and what was in my heart. So in an instant I decided to take my life in another direction, albeit that it may take me some time to put those desires in place.

As described earlier, one of the reasons I found it difficult to think about my needs was the fact that I felt that I had become the discarded consequence of another person’s supposed needs and wants having taken precedence over me and everything I had ever known and treasured: our family unit, our values, beliefs and responsibilities. I felt that I could not discard them as well and in particular my sense of ‘responsibility’. In amongst my sense of responsibility was holding onto the dreams and aspirations we had as a couple and seeing those through. That meant keeping the house and the business. In my epiphany, I realised that direction was not right for me as an individual and as a single person alone approaching sixty years of age. A voice inside me screamed out

I DO NOT WANT THIS!

Fair enough. I have now stated what I do not want.
It has taken an absolute crisis and eighteen months of soul-searching to finally realise and state what I do not want.
What is it that I do want?
My needs have been explored.
What about my wants?

Needs are distinguished from wants as a deficiency of needs causes a negative outcome. Wants are extra to our needs. We can live without them. If I found it difficult stating my needs, then exploring my wants makes me feel truly self-centred. Yet, divorce and living alone gives me that luxury of being able to do that. So here goes.

THIS IS WHAT I TRULY WANT FROM MY LIFE

  1. Inner peace
  2. Respect
  3. Longevity
  4. Time with my loved ones
  5. Calm

I have come to realise that my wants are not than far removed from my needs. They are not selfish or over-indulgent. The greatest challenge for me is to actually prioritise as my responsibility the fulfilling of those needs and wants, and accepting that it is all right for me to do so.

“The key is not to prioritise your schedule, but to schedule your priorities”
Stephen Covey

>>

Image Courtesy [David Castillo Dominici] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My needs # 5. Meaningful projects.

ID-100145605At any crossroad in life, it is inevitable to question the meaning and purpose of your life.

When life is sailing along fine, it is easy to find the answers. You make your own choices in a meaningful life by engaging in a grand plan for the greater good, or simply being the very best you can be. You can choose to find meaning in your work, the right amount of space for leisure, and of having fulfilling relationships.

A life crisis or trauma can shatter all that. The ‘meaning of life’ takes a jolt. In my case, what I thought my life was suddenly wasn’t. I had lost control and was denied the choice of where my life was heading. I felt my future had been stolen.

Most of my driving force throughout my life had been preparation for the future. When the future became today, I planned for another future. So I sought and achieved a good education, took immense pleasure in seeing my children grow and succeed, looked ahead and planned for a secure retirement. I was always looking ahead. Suddenly in the calamity of my separation, I worried and became anxious about the future.

Life for me lost its meaning and purpose; and my ability to plan for the future disintegrated.. Yet having meaning in life and a plan for the future is a major driving force of survival. What can be done when seemingly this had taken away? My solution through this calamity, has been to stop focussing on the big picture of finding a meaningful ‘life’; and to instead focus on the here and now of today, by finding meaningful ‘projects’. Projects that are rewarding, stimulating, and fulfilling. When I was in the depths of this crisis, in survival mode, I still needed a reason for getting out of bed, for putting one foot in front of the other. Meaningful projects became the answer for me, to find some reason for beginning each day, and to be able to say at the end of the day “I did that, and I feel proud of what I did”.

In the beginning, finding a project for an hour helped me survive; then gradually projects that would take a day; then a week. Now I am able to think a month or two ahead and start planning forward.

My focus initially not only became my daily routines and getting on with them, but also finding meaning in them, and being grateful for the simple aspects of them. It now seems funny to think that one day I took pride in hanging the washing out on the line as the sun was beating warmly on my back. Never before had I ever felt that hanging the washing out could hold any meaning or purpose for me, yet that particular day it did. It gave me something to do. Likewise, I made a ‘project’ of spring-cleaning the house; and then refurbishing and adapting the house to suit me. I was proud of how it looked when I finished. Currently I have given myself a project of getting my photos in order.

I turn to the magnificence of the meaning of each day. I marvel every day at the sunrise and nature all around me. I take great pleasure in taking walks in nature. Life may be difficult, but there are still moments that offer joy, peace, calm – and meaning.

I have become absorbed in discovering ‘me’. I have made it a project. I am exploring not only my own beliefs and philosophies; but also that of others. I research each aspect in depth and explore its meaning. I have become interested in poetry, biographies and music. I learn and explore on these themes every day.

Finally, I have been writing all about this, in my journal, in my blogging. Writing about it has become rewarding and fulfilling, especially the feedback from others.

Eventually I know that I will find and return to a higher life purpose. Meanwhile, as life goes on I am finding these smaller projects, whilst seemingly not ‘my life purpose’, do give my life meaning. They are stimulating. They are fulfilling. They are giving me back control. Most importantly, my need for continual learning and growth is being met.

.

Image courtesy [gubgib] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Feeling good

Here is some positive music to start off a great long weekend here down-under

“Feeling Good”
Michael Buble

Birds flying high
You know how I feel
Sun in the sky
You know how I feel
Breeze driftin’ on by
You know how I feel
It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
For meAnd I’m feeling good
I’m feeling good
.
.
Fish in the sea
You know how I feel
River running free
You know how I feel
Blossom on a tree
You know how I feel
It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
For me
And I’m feeling good
.
Dragonfly out in the sun you know what I mean, don’t you know
Butterflies all havin’ fun you know what I mean
Sleep in peace when day is done
That’s what I mean
And this old world is a new world
And a bold world
For meFor me

Stars when you shine
You know how I feel
Scent of the pine
You know how I feel
Oh freedom is mine
And I know how I feel
It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life

It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life

It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
It’s a new life
For me

And I’m feeling good

I’m feeling good
I feel so good
I feel so good