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  • The Challenges of College Drop-Off When You’re Separated or Divorced

    Divorced or separated parents faced special challenges at college drop-off time

    The school year is beginning. For some, it’s the first time they are taking their now much more grown up kid(s) to college – and for separated, divorced or single parents, the experience can present additional challenges.

    My husband and I separated when my son was entering his Sophomore year of High School. We chose that time to keep the stress low during his Junior and Senior year when the intensity typically goes up and college prep is in full force.

    Fast-forward a couple of years to college drop off time when parent couples with college-age children prepare for the move-in, shop for swag, eat out and begin the separation process from their child. Except by then I was divorced – no longer part of a couple.

    Whether your child is ready and excited to be free or is having anxiety about being away at school (primarily a freshman experience), there are always challenges during this life transition. But it can be even harder for the divorced or separated parent who is surrounded by united, happy families and who has no one to hang out with while their kid is making his or her great escape.

    Of course, the student is doing exactly what they should be doing and the job of the parent is to simply support them, no questions asked. But yikes! It can feel like your separation all over again and with a capitol S.

    So, what can the single parent do?

    If you have a good relationship with your ex-partner, you can still choose to go through the experience together – especially the first time. My ex-spouse and I did participate in parent’s weekend together the first year and it worked out great.

    Yet there’s no question that being on your own through this experience can be really tough. In fact, you’re likely to feel everything from excitement to loneliness and from pride to resentment (possibly not enough “thank you’s” for all the effort you are putting in) even in a single day. Because in the moments of changing roles, of shifting from being a hands-on parent to being a hands-off parent, lots of mixed emotions can arise that are similar to the roller coaster of emotions that often go hand in hand with divorce or separation. Emotions that have you questioning your role: How will I matter in the future? Or, what will our relationship be like going forward?

    I’m here to say that these questions do get worked out with a bit of consciousness, conversation and observation

    Here are some tips for divorced or separated parents that might help during those anxious and lonely college drop-off moments  – and if you’ve already dropped off this year, I hope you’ll share your own tips in the comments section:

    1. Find a great place to stay where you feel at home and can go hang out when you are at loose ends. And don’t forget that often there are lots of helpers at a university to assist new parents or even a parent list-serve you can join.
    2. Figure out if there are other parents you may know who may be dropping off at the same school and make plans to connect for a meal or coffee when the kids are otherwise occupied.
    3. See if you have any friends near the university. Often parents think they will not have a free moment and don’t reach out, but free moments will become more and more frequent if you take your kid to school in later years. So, reach out now.
    4. Go to an event on your own and meet other parents.
    5. Plan on attending at least one parent-child event so you can better understand the landscape and connect with other parents. It always feels better to be in community.
    6. Schedule a few specific times to see your child during the move-in process and possibly after, including when you’ll say good-bye before you head home.
    7. Most importantly, know when it is time to go and cut the cord. Just because you’re divorced or separated doesn’t mean  alone. You will always be your kid’s parent.

     

    Hope this helps and have a happy school year!

    The Antidote to Stress, Scared and Stuck

    Well Being

    We are constantly bombarded by news and lately much of it has been disturbing.

    We hear news of people all over the world acting out on their worst instincts. There’s news about the coming election that has many afraid for our country and its relationships with countries around the world. And, of course, there’s been plenty of news about violence and tragedy right in our own back yards.

    It’s been so overwhelming, that it’s created an atmosphere of fear and even hopelessness for many of us, and I was struck by just how close to home all this bad news is when I attended my water aerobics class recently.

    Our beloved teacher was late to class and when she finally arrived and told us that she had been pulled over by a policeman for speeding on her way to teach our class, she burst into tears.

    You see, she is a person of color and although she was quick to say that the policeman was a perfect gentleman and had followed all the rules, she also shared that she was afraid for her life.

    The fact that a fear that serious was part of this scenario is horrible and, unfortunately, it speaks to the reality of what’s happening in our world right now.

    I’ve heard so many friends and clients talk recently about experiencing anxiety, stress or a sense of stuckness; about feeling drained, uninspired or just plain numb. I can’t help but notice the connection between what’s happening “out there” and what’s happening “in here” – in our minds, bodies and souls.

    Of course, I’m not saying that we all don’t feel these things regardless of what’s happening in the world. But right now, it’s intensified – so, how do we cope?

    When it seems as though the positive energy of life has been sucked away, it’s important to think about exactly what that positive energy was.

    Often, it’s joy.

    In truth, we need to be able to find joy in the midst of our concern for others, our fear for the future and our own day-to-day worries. We need to realize that focusing on joy can bring us the balance, strength and clarity we need to evaluate what is causing us discomfort. We especially need to understand that when “out there” is chaotic and even crazy, that’s the time we need focus on joy even more.

    But what is joy exactly? Is joy the same thing as happiness? And how do we find (and keep) joy in our lives – especially right now?

    We’ll be talking a lot about joy over the next few weeks and I hope you’ll join this important conversation.

    Bringing joy into our lives is essential for our wellbeing. Spend a day with me exploring joy at my Accelerate Your Joy workshop on Saturday, Oct 1st. Right now, you can even bring a friend for free – find out more and register here.

    Accelerate Your Joy Button

     

    Is There Support When You Mention Divorce?

    I was speaking with someone today who was sharing the feeling of being scared while talking about separating from her husband. She did have trepidation about separation and divorce but what really frightened her was the response she was getting from the people around her to the potential dissolution of marriage. The responses were so strongly negative and unsupportive, that she thought that they must be afraid of something.

    She was excited that I had started a private Facebook group to discuss a new way to deal with divorce because she said that people forget about “that part.” When I asked what she meant, she said that people forget about the part leading up to separation or divorce; that people forget that the individuals involved need support. The story she was telling me highlighted that bystanders will often express their own opinions instead of listening.

    It’s sad that when someone is looking for support in the fragile moments of making the huge decision to explore the dissolution of a marriage that what shows up is fear or judgment by others.

    The world of divorce is often fraught with so much negativity one can’t see the forest for the trees. The potential outcome is often the focus so people forget how important all the steps in the process are. If friends and family are only focused on the outcome, the couple may feel like they are floundering in a sink or swim effort during the early stages of decision-making.

    It’s easy to forget how shocking it can be when someone says something out of the blue that’s a real zinger and knocks you off balance. Listening to her was an important reminder that a good support system is critical.

    Much of my work is with people who are in the process of making the decision to separate or divorce or those who have already made the decision and my job is guiding them through more positive ways to approach their situation. Part of this involves talking about the people in their lives who have a lot to say about the dissolution of marriage – whether it’s sharing war stories or giving advice or offering words of approval or disapproval. Since they are not part of the couple, their situation may not apply.

    I am so involved in the arena of giving those divorcing the support they need that I can forget how many people don’t reach out for professional support, or how many people go ahead with this very difficult life change without the support of their family or friends, simply because of how their family and friends may feel about divorce in general.

    I don’t think anyone goes down the road of divorce lightly. If someone has gotten to the point of deciding to leave a relationship for a period time or has made the decision alone or with their spouse to end the union, they are jumping into the unknown. To take that leap there is, most often, a very good reason. How great it would be if co-workers, friends and family members could remain neutral or supportive.

    Often people who are making a major life decision do find that it is a bit frightening to those around them. In the case of divorce, the observer may be afraid they will have to take sides or be involved in the “fight” in some way. They may be afraid for the person or the couple’s children because so many divorces are antagonistic. They may remember their own break ups or their parent’s break ups. They find themselves looking at their own relationships and sometimes they become afraid for themselves.

    Dissolution of marriage is a tricky process. It shakes the foundations of many belief systems.

    But maybe it is more important to recognize that all people deserve to be in relationships that are healthy for them and sometimes it just isn’t so.

    My heart went out to the person who felt she had to do this on her own. It was clear she had good reason to make this difficult decision. I hope that those around her help strengthen her resolve or simply stand by her side without judgment.

    It’s Spring! Use this Season as Your Guide for Inspired Next Steps

    Nature is our teacher. All we have to do to see how to proceed in life is watch what’s happening outside our windows.

    Let’s send up new shoots. Get rid of the old dried up leaves and twigs. Open a fresh eye on the world. Let the still small voice that knows there is something emerging get a bit louder.

    All of us feel a bit dug under sometimes. I know sometimes I feel like there is so much to do I don’t know where to start and so I feel inundated. That’s when I take a fresh look at what is happening in my life, what is happening around me, where I am putting my focus and what I want to do next and why I want to do it.

    We are multifaceted beings, so underlying the tasks we are doing are the thoughts and feelings we have about those tasks.

    • What do the tasks mean to us? 
    • What importance do they hold in our lives? 
    • What are the benefits or the drawbacks? 
    • Are they essential or can they be removed from the list? 

    Sometimes it is good to sort all that out.  Sometimes sorting it out isn’t necessary. That is for you to decide.

    What does matter is taking a moment to breathe.

    Take stock of all that is happening; what you are feeling emotionally and physically; what you are thinking… and see if there is a need for or room for a different point of view or a different course of action.

    Often a change in focus opens up a completely different feeling about what comes next. We may have a new idea that allows the energy (e.g. your thoughts and emotions) to take a different route that helps you see possibility in a new way. Sometimes it means you have a new view on what already exists and sometimes it means you will make a change.  It may be as simple as cleaning out your sock drawer to help you  be and feel more organized.

    The idea is to stop and actually be mindful of what is going on inside and out. It gives you a fresh start.

    I find that any one thing I do that organizes my space or my thoughts helps me move to the next task with a different openness in my breath, openness in my thoughts, and a clarity about the next action.

    It is sometimes a surprise, but when we start re-organizing that which is around us, we begin to start a process within ourselves that opens doors to freshness; we see, hear and smell in the spring.

    Let’s take advantage of this powerful seasonal energy to take a deep breath and proceed with fresh hope and a new view.

    Spring is the ideal time to take the next step to accelerate YOUR next step.

    Choose the inspired life you want to live.

    Why a Group for Women About Life?

    goddessMany years ago I had a serious back injury. I was working at a flower shop to earn extra money and get a discount on flowers for my wedding. It was kind of silly. I was taking a break from my regular job as an Art Therapist and thought I should be making money while I was taking the important step of getting married. Goes to show that doing something that we think we are supposed to do or be – in my case, independent; an equal partner – doesn’t always work out the way we think it will. Actually it really backfired. I ended up lifting a planter. It was a huge, empty planter. Who knew it was incredibly heavy?

    Well that was a week before the wedding. It was a big mistake that launched an incredible journey. Not only did it create a difficult start to our new marriage, it taught me what it meant to heal from the inside out.

    It took months and months. Unbelievably, when I was almost back to normal, I got rear-ended at a red light and the healing process began all over again. I guess I hadn’t gotten the full message yet. Once again, I was flat on my back.

    For over a year I read all about healing. I listened to meditation tapes. I read all about the body and I read all about people. I read science fiction, biographies, most significantly heroes’ journeys.

    Among the books that changed my life and perception were The Goddess Within by Roger and Jennifer Woolger (now unfortunately out of print), and Goddesses in Every Woman by Jean Shinoda Bolen. Both books spoke to a need for connecting with different aspects of ourselves and bringing balance into our lives.

    During that time, which I call “my time on the moon,” I began to wonder what I wanted to do with my career and focused specifically on how I was bringing these aspects of myself into the light and into balance. Specifically, I wondered what I would want to attend if I was interested in expanding myself and looking deeper into who I am and how I could be excited about my life.

    After much thought, I created A Group for Women About Life, because that’s the program I wanted to experience. I wanted to participate in creating community, exploring all aspects of being a woman and a human being alive on the planet right now, something that would actually have an impact on the way I thought or the choices I would make going forward.

    When I created the program I really had no idea how powerful the process I had designed was. Oh, I knew it would be fun and I did know it would be impactful and that people would learn more about themselves and their relationships and position in the world, but I had no idea just how impactful.

    I had no idea that people would find a fresh way to look at their relationships, or find the courage to change jobs, or start businesses, or choose to heal very old wounds, or be able find community where they once felt alone. I knew that people would benefit from awakening the parts of them that had been asleep because of fear or inactivity. But I didn’t know what it would mean to have every aspect of the self actively awake and working in concert. Amazing – really amazing!

    After seven years of running the program I stopped to give birth to a new creation, my son, and begin a different journey. Now it is time to bring this program back. We are in a time of great change. We need our internal lights to be on and working in concert – and getting there is a delicious journey.

    Sometimes when we operating based on what we think we are supposed to do or be, we don’t have the whole picture because there is another part of ourselves that hasn’t spoken up yet. Sometimes the voice of our culture is stronger than our own. Sometimes we hear our own voice but it is a one-sided conversation. We don’t use all facets of our intuition to make the best decision – even though often the information is within us waiting to be tapped.

    I think I would not have worked in the flower store if I had been fully in touch with my true strength – my aspects of Artemis or Athena. I think if I had been in touch with my Demeter aspect I would have taken better care of myself. Maybe, if I had been in touch more fully with my Persephone, I would have looked deeper within. Had I been more in touch with my Aphrodite aspect I might have been more focused on the relational adventure of joining with another person – my husband to be. I don’t know what decision I would have made back then, but I know with all those beautiful voices chiming in and helping me be fully awake and balanced it probably would have been a better one.

    I am so excited to invite you into this sacred and exciting journey once again. It is a wonderful, fulfilling ride.

    To learn more about A Group for Women About Life, get on our update list. If you are ready to sign up right now, schedule an enrollment call with Liz.

    For men who are interested in a similar transformative journey please click here  and we will be sure to keep you updated for future programs.