here at last

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.Viktor Frankl

 

I am here at last settled into my new house with BMW views (Beach, Mountain, Water). The house faces north so I get the sun all day. I walk to the beach twice a day and am keeping fit, well, and healthy. I am only 30 minutes from my eldest son and his family, and my daughter is also nearby.

Yet I feel a little bit home sick, pining for something, but uncertain exactly what.

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In his ground-breaking book about his experience of surviving the holocaust concentration camps Viktor Frankl describes three phases. The first phase is the shock of first arriving at camp. The second phase is entrenched in life at camp. The third phase is after liberation.

Frankl describes how in the second phase of complete uncertainty, stripped of everything from their former lives, people could still retain the freedom to choose their inner response to the situation. As opposed to feeling only misery, bearing suffering with dignity and finding goals for the future even in the midst of uncertainty, is what “makes life meaningful”.

Whilst I hesitate to compare my situation of divorce to that of a holocaust survivor, it is similar in that there were three phases. The first phase was that of my marriage collapse and being thrown into shock and chaos. The second phase was trudging through the marital settlement which took nearly four years. The third phase was the liberation from that process. Reading books like his helped me cope through many dark days of that second phase, the phase of prolonged suffering, by helping me form a sense of normality during that uncertain period, and an inner peace knowing that I still had choices.

During that horrible place, I got myself into a familiar routine and coped well with grace and dignity through all my suffering. I believe now, in a strange sort of way, I actually made a ‘career’ and new life for myself out of coping with my suffering. I branched out into a long phase of inner reflection and I began writing. I enjoyed writing and I felt I did it well.

When the settlement was finalized, I was free at last.

Since the ending of my trudging through the marital settlement, life has been unsettled as I have been in transition yet doing worthwhile things such as living life, visiting friends and family, sorting out my mothers estate and travelling.

I have now moved into my new home by the sea, ready to settle into my new life. But in many many ways, I have now been thrown back into another era of uncertainty.

What do I do now?

Winding the clock back six years, there was me in the certainty of my marriage, career, and community. I knew who I was and where I was going. The crisis of my marriage ending brought with it a loss of my identity that is now long gone which I grieved.

In my second phase world of trudging through the marital settlement, coping with the suffering and writing about it had become my new identity. It had become my place of certainty. As horrible as it was, my trudging through that mud had become a familiar place and I was safe in its familiarity.

Now life is again unfamiliar to me.

I am finding that I have been through or am going through another “identity crisis” of wondering who I am and who I will become. That identity I had made for myself, of writing about positive aspects of coping with my suffering no longer exists as I am no longer ‘suffering’. Then what will I do with my life? What will I write about?

Now I realize that is my answer.

Find out.

And write about it.

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Image courtesy[GraphicsMouse]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

 

 

Feelings

It has been a roller-coaster of emotions for me these past eight weeks. On many days I have coped by blocking my emotions out. I have either acted by automatic pilot, and / or kept myself very busy, doing anything except taking the time to stop and simply feel my emotions. At other times, my emotions have poured out of me like a torrent of water from a broken tap that would not stop, and I felt things deeply.

My writing stopped for several weeks.

Then when I started writing my journal again, I wrote in a staccato, factual fashion, with no depth of feeling. That was because I was finding it very difficult to process five or six different emotions all at once. It became easier to describe what was happening, rather than how I was feeling. How could I describe all that I have been feeling? All the time my mind has been blank, yet racing at a thousand miles a second. How could I describe that?

Earlier this year I had been working through my transformation to the new me; beginning with my foundations of comfort, then moving on to my foundations of freedom, and the freedom to discover myself. As part of that process I had reached a point where I began to feel my own feelings. Like a light coming on, I realized that I had a right to those feelings, and a right to express those feelings. To some people, that may seem like a strange discovery. Not for me. To me, this was a revolution happening. It was a huge change.

For many years I had been suppressing how I really felt, I had been suppressing the true me inside myself. I was the product of growing up as the introverted sister with two extroverted siblings. I became the product of the introverted wife married to the ultra-extroverted husband. I learned to play the part of second fiddle. I learned to fix and support but never shine. I learned to think that I did not matter, that my feelings did not count, that my opinions were not that important, that what I did was not significant.

Earlier this year I found my own significance and my own feelings began to surface. When I began to feel my feelings and recognize them as my own feelings, I wrote down as the first part of my life purpose “to find my voice and speak my truth“. In other words, I had resolved, to not only act true to myself, but to also begin to speak out about being true to myself. I resolved to begin telling my whole story, to voice out loud how I really felt inside my heart and to express what I really thought, rather than what I thought other people would expect of me.

Then life got in the way.

Before I had a chance to write my story (the story that had been), more of life began happening. Life unfolded in an expected and sudden way and I was swept along by a stream of emotions: joy and sadness, hope and desperation, elation and disappointment, aloneness and togetherness, comfort and distress, brokenness and harmony, confusion and clarity, quandary and resolution, closed and open, indecisiveness and decisiveness, anger and calmness.

At first I could not process them, to feel them. Then I did. I began to feel them. Some of them hurt, yet I allowed myself to feel their intensity.  The numbness that had been blocking out my emotions lifted. It had been so foreign to me to allow myself to feel any emotions. It was even more foreign to express those emotions.

Yet, to feel them is to live more fully, to express them is to become true to myself.

To write about them is now, for me, a necessity.

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Images:Courtesy[Africa]FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Foundations of Freedom – find my voice and speak my truth

” I was going to die sooner or later, whether or not I had even spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you… Once you start to speak, people will yell at you. They will interrupt you, put you down and suggest its personal. And the world will not end. And the speaking will get easier and easier. And you will fall in love with your own vision, which you may never have realised you had… And at last you’ll know with surprising certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.” Audre Lorde

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Here is part of what I wrote in my last post:

“We now have the freedom to vote, choose, express opinion, work and earn money, associate or assemble with those of our choosing, become educated, or be elected into positions of power… We are now free to pursue whatever we desire in terms of our dress, our leisure activities and our relationships with each other – in both the coming together or the breaking apart.”

I do not believe all that is true. It appears to be true. In reality it is not all true. I believe all members of our society do not have all those freedoms (of speech, expression, opinion, assembly, education etc). I believe every person in inter-personal relationships or in social groups do not have the same freedoms or power to speak as others. I believe they should have. One of my goals is to find my voice and to express my opinion and my beliefs on that. This is something that is burning within my soul. My desire to speak those truths.

That has become part of my purpose:

My purpose is to find my voice and to speak my truth.

 

 

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Images:Courtesy[stoonn]FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My First Year and 100 Posts

My first year and 100 posts

This post marks one year of blogging and 100 posts of Almost Spring.

I thought I would take this 100th post as an opportunity to thank everyone who has written comments on my blog, followed me, ‘liked’ my posts and in every way possible shown me kindness and support as I have gone on my journey. Thank you one and all. I hope you may all join me on the next part of my journey. I have included below links to some of my followers and their fantastic blogs.

The blog has been about my survival after the sudden collapse of my marriage. I started it six months later so it began looking backwards recapping my initial despair, moving on until the beginning point of my blog when I was looking positively to transform my life from ‘we’ to ‘me’. You can read my first post here. It was not easy to let go of the ‘we’ that had existed for 40 years, and it took me 40 weeks to reach a point where I truly saw myself as an individual, rather than half a couple. Since that time, I have been exploring my own values, beliefs, and attitudes; and pondering my needs as a single person. Going forward I will be looking at my aspirations and goals to fulfill my life with purpose, meaning and contribution.

I leave you today with a few statistics on my blog and those links to some wonderfully inspiring blogs.

A few statistics.

My first published post was 25 May 2012. I have 141 followers and follow 108 blogs.
My most prolific month for writing and views was June 2012.
I average about 600 views a month.

The first 2 comments to my blog were made by:
Paupana and Magnolia Beginnings

The Bloggers leaving the most frequent recent comments have been: 

Diana; The Eff Stop; Louise Gallagher; mimjk; Stuff  I tell My Sister; Kristijodlicki; IanMunro; Fred Phillips; Claudia; JMGoyder; (see below for links to their blogs)

Bloggers who posted comments or likes in my first month and who I am still following and / or who still comment on my posts:

Well, OK, So Now What?
Space2live
Dr Bill Wooten
Clarabelle
♥ Truelovejunkie ♥
Jennifer’s Journal
Talktodiana
Sixty And Single Again
Swimming In The Mud
Lessons From The End Of A Marriage
The Last Song I Heard…
Back On My Own
Cauldrons And Cupcakes
Waiting For The Karma Truck
Floatingwiththebreeze
Gotoppm.com
Out Of The Chrysalis
LadyRomp

Bloggers Who have Joined Me More Recently And Who Frequently Keep In Touch:

A Year Of Rejoicing — Welcome!
Stuff I Tell My Sister
The Eff Stop
Jmgoyder
That’s Another Story . . .
FredPhillips
Leading Essentially
Donna & Diablo
Rebecca Herrera
Joyful On Purpose
A Hundred Years Ago
WordsFallFromMyEyes
Wanderlustry Ramblings
Crowing Crone Joss
Things I Want To Tell My Mother
THE JOLYN PROJECT
Choosingmyownwellbeing
One Person Singular …
Alone But Strong
Mrsfringe

xx

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.

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Image courtesy [gubgib] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My attitudes # 4 – Courage

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy” Martin Luther King Jnr

In recent posts I spoke of hope – a belief in a positive outcome – and optimism – looking on the bright side of situations and overcoming fear by facing reality and responding positively.

To truly overcome fear, one requires courage. Courage is the attitude to act by ones own free will towards a meaningful goal despite a perceived threat, risk or challenge; despite feeling fear and apprehension; and despite an uncertain outcome. Courage is mastery over your fear. To me, the features of showing courage therefore are –

(a) being faced with a real or perceived risk, threat or challenge,
(b) feeling fear or apprehension because of that risk,
(c) facing an uncertain outcome, AND

despite the above …. you 
(1) make a deliberate choice
(2) towards a meaningful goal

That – to me – is courage.

Certainly I am able to say I can tick the first three boxes. I face real risks and challenges. I am feeling fearful and apprehensive. My outcome is absolutely uncertain. I definitely score quite high on the “fears to be overcome” side. Do I have the courage to face those fears and make a choice towards a meaningful goal?

I looked back to see if I had ever shown courage in the past …..

Firstly, there have been many times I have shown courage to meet challenges; starting a new career, despite the risk of not knowing exactly what it would be like; moving to a new area, despite the challenge of knowing no-one and starting again; taking part in sporting or public-speaking competitions, despite the risk of possible failure. I have done all of these.

Secondly, there are times when I have shown courage to overcome difficulties. My second son (a ‘failure to thrive’) was able to enjoy a healthy happy childhood because I had the courage to pursue an unconventional solution for him through dietary means. My third son (with learning difficulties) survived academically as I had the courage to push for structured learning programmes for him at school. He went on to obtain a Masters degree. It took courage to stand up to doctors and teachers and insist from them what I knew to be best for my children, despite an uncertain outcome, and despite a degree of ridicule.

The first examples are ones of taking risks and stepping out into the unknown. I am not wanting to put down these feats, as I believe they all took courage. However they were all choices made by me from a base level of comfort and security, towards wanted life-time goals. The second examples were of rising from difficult situations with uncertain outcomes. However, this time I had a meaningful goal – my children’s health and happiness – which I chose to put above my own discomfort.

Two of the things that I have battled with constantly since my separation is that I am where I am at this moment through no choice of my own. Choice was taken away from me. Secondly, I lost my life’s purpose and my striving towards meaningful goals. Yet somehow from somewhere, I am supposed to find some hidden courage, I am supposed to “choose” a meaningful path forward.

I keep getting blocked by these two obstacles, my lost choice and my loss of purpose. It is so easy to get swallowed up by the fear and apprehension that I feel, to forget about courage and to remain paralysed in a delayed sense of shock.

Yet I know that I have had the courage to face aloneness and discover the joy of solitude. Within that space it has taken much courage to face my inner self, my changing self and to keep striving towards the goal of having a life with meaning, purpose and authenticity.

My courage has been the light in the darkness of my despair.

My courage has been my willpower to survive, despite the darkness.

My courage has been to keep moving forward, despite the fear in my inner world.

My courage has given me the strength to put my thoughts down in my writing.

I now seek to apply that same courage to my external world with confidence and a sense of well being.

“Our most difficult experiences can become the crucibles that forge our character and develop the internal powers, the freedom to handle difficult circumstances. “ Stephen Covey. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

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My gratitude list

Yesterday marked 52 weeks since my husband left me. I spent the day at home by myself. Friends were concerned this was not a good idea, that I may spend the time feeling sad about my losses. Not so. Any losses are his – not mine.

I realised I have gained so much, especially the realisation there is so much in life for me to be grateful for. I decided to mark this occasion by listing them.

  1. I am grateful for my four beautiful children, daughter-in-law and grand-daughter; for their support and love, for their optimism for my future, for their enthusiasm for their own future.
  2. I am grateful for my 85 year old mother, my three siblings and their families, and for the values instilled in me by my family of courage, determination; and of doing the ‘right thing’.
  3. I am grateful for the opportunity of being able to see my extended family and families more often.
  4. I am grateful for those of my friends who provided a shoulder to lean on, a helping hand when required, flowers, cards and someone to cry my heart out to.
  5. I am grateful for those of my friends who didn’t, for you have taught me tolerance.
  6. I am grateful for being able to agree on a peaceful property settlement.
  7. I am grateful for the opportunity of spring-cleaning the house and property.
  8. I am grateful for ridding myself of truckloads of “stuff” as it holds no meaning to me.
  9. I am grateful for all the space in my life where “stuff” used to be as in its place now is clarity and purpose.
  10. I am grateful for the opportunity of now living a life rich in meaning every day.
  11. I am grateful my love of living a life of meaning has not been crushed from my soul.
  12. I am grateful for the opportunity to watch the sunrise beckoning me with hope and new beginnings every single day.
  13. I am grateful for my valley, for the mist in the mornings, the kookaburra’s laugh, the birds songs, the trees and the flowers.
  14. I am grateful for my good health and current level of fitness.
  15. I am grateful for the determination – when I apply my mind to it – to improve my level of fitness to that which ought to be.
  16. I am grateful that I still have no grey hairs.
  17. I am grateful to the policeman who dropped my licence demerit points lost from 3 down to 2 when caught speeding in the early days post separation when I was driving the four hours to see my children.
  18. I am grateful for being stopped because I was quite distraught and really should not have been driving. It was a wake up call that when driving – no matter how bad I am feeling – to focus on my driving.
  19. I am grateful to the man in the supermarket who gave me some small change when I had not taken enough cash to buy veggies for my soup. On the lowest of my low days, you touched me with your kindness.
  20. I am grateful for the tradesmen who assisted me in the clean-up of the house surrounds and the refurbishing of upstairs.
  21. I am grateful for the refurbished pine kitchen table rescued from the top shed replacing the trestle table used for the past 11 months.
  22. I am grateful for the memories of family life around the kitchen table.
  23. I am grateful for the opportunity of making more memories around the table.
  24. I am grateful for now being able to live my life the way I want, rather than by somebody else’s standards and values.
  25. I am grateful my own standards and values have not been compromised.
  26. I am grateful for being able to write in my journal and in my blog.
  27. I am grateful for all the blogging friends I have made, for the support and encouragement shown to me.
  28. I am grateful I have come this far in seeing myself as a single identity, and no longer as half a couple.
  29. I am grateful that I have survived my first 52 weeks alone.
  30. I am grateful for the courage instilled in me to embrace my life going forward as an adventure in discovering me.