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    inspired choice?

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  • Uh Oh! It’s the Holidays and We’re Getting Divorced!

    Along with all the joy the holidays bring there is often a lot of discussion about the challenges and stresses of being with family. All the holiday hype can make it difficult to get to those warm feelings of home, the deep connection we have with our loved ones, and the joy of being together. When we add divorce to the mix all sorts of difficult questions and stresses show up.

    But despite the to-be-expected potential irritations of being thrown together for a yearly visit with family, I think this time of year gives us a unique opportunity to have a really great holiday outcome, whatever form your family may be in at the time.

    Specifically, we have the opportunity to choose to see the good that is possible by having a vision for the kind of holiday and family experience we want to have.

    That said, when people are in the middle of what some might call a family crisis – a separation or divorce – there can be even more obstacles to seizing that opportunity. So here’s how it tends to go in the typical divorce or separation. It starts with assumptions like:

    “It’s going to be awful or stressful.”
    “We’re going to fight about where the kids go.”
    “It’s going to be heartbreaking.”
    “We’re not going to agree on what to do.”
    “This is going to be really artificial.”

    These are only a few of the stressful thoughts we might encounter. Some of these end up as self-fulfilling prophecies:

    We are so on edge, we end up responding to things we think will happen instead of creating what we hope can happen.

    So, how can we make the shift from just getting through the holidays to actually enjoying aspects of them without a full load of stress?

    Even though the stages of uncoupling can be difficult – and even though everyone’s situation is different, and even if you might prefer to simply escape – there is much you can do to make things better.

    Those of you who’ve worked with me on divorcing differently know that putting your vision first, and making inspired choices that bring you a better outcome, is key to not just surviving, but to thriving during a separation or divorce.

    Here are a few tips that will help you create a peaceful and hopefully joyful holiday, despite all the challenges you might be facing. Use them as a your guide to approaching divorce differently this holiday season.

    1) Be prepared for that rise in your emotions. Being prepared can actually help you stay more balanced.

    2) Consider how you can keep your usual holiday routine – especially if separation or divorce is new to you. For example, if going to that great vacation spot is what you’ve always done, figure out how you can still do just that.

    3) Think about what you really cherish about the holidays and present it clearly and simply with “I” statements in order to begin a discussion about options for how to celebrate. If you’re making a request, be ready to suggest a compromise or alternative. For instance, you might say, “Christmas Eve has always been the most special time in my family and I would like to take Sally to see her grandparents that night. How would you feel about taking her to be with your parents on Christmas afternoon?”

    4) If your focus is keeping the family together, find a way to keep the continuity of family by planning a special, time-limited event. You can also design certain guidelines regarding behavior if you’re concerned that tension will cause emotions to erupt. Example: Decide together that provokers of bad feelings (sarcasm, criticism, harsh tone, petty arguments) are off limits for the event – and remember to think creatively: you can take separate cars or decide together what topics to avoid. Essentially, you are making an agreement to keep things agreeable for those moments or events, which is a great way to build a foundation for going forward when children are involved.

    5) Envision what is meaningful to you while also considering what’s meaningful to others: What do you know about what is important to your soon-to-be ex partner, or your children, about the holidays, and how can their wishes be incorporated?

    6) Know when it’s best not to try to be together and plan accordingly.

    7) Breathe!

    There is no one correct way to do this – and there is no rule that says this new way of doing the holidays has to be terrible.

    Most importantly:

    There is no rule that says your way has to be typical, traditional, or the way it was.

    This is a time to create new traditions. Traditions that fit your personal circumstances and that bring a new and different focus into the holiday mix.

    And, certainly, there may also be sadness and a yearning for what you thought would be wonderful for a very long time. So, allow yourself to honor that sadness and begin to create something that you are comfortable with for this year.

    You may change how you do things next year, but listen to yourself regarding what you need this season – YOUR VISION – and have a heartfelt holiday.

    Wising you the best in the New Year,

    Liz Goll Lerner
    Your Inspired Choices

    P.S. Be the first to get my new Divorce Well & Thrive webinar for more on what it means to divorce well and how to begin to create YOUR OWN PERSONAL VISION for a very different kind of separation or divorce. It will arrive in your in-box as soon as it is ready!

    Confidence and Pancakes

    Liz's Chocolate Chip Pancakes

    Liz’s Chocolate Chip Pancakes

    December 2013

    The other day I was making banana chocolate chip pancakes (see recipe below).

    I have begun making them quite frequently as they have become a favorite. The consistency of the batter is a bit different. The liquefied bananas make them a bit harder to flip and they take a bit longer to cook.

    I noticed that when I was feeling confident about the flip it worked seamlessly, and when I had a doubt, the pancake inevitably folded or fell on another. In short, it was a mess—sometimes I could fix it and sometimes it just turned into a ball of cooked goo. From a taste perspective, all was perfectly wonderful but … not as I had planned.

    So I did an experiment. Prior to each flip, I chose to be confident or concerned. Each time I chose to be confident the flip was perfect. Each time I allowed doubt into the equation there was something that wasn’t quite right. It became a game with fascinating conclusions.

    Let’s think about the things we do in our lives that are affected by a similar thought process. How often do we begin a task—simple or complex—with a preconceived notion of doubt or concern? How often do we begin a task or performance or project with total surety? What would happen if we left the worry out? Whether we believed it or not, we proceeded with utter and complete confidence? What if we fully acted as if we felt completely sure of ourselves? Would the complex become simple?

    I believe we can choose. Start with something simple like flipping a pancake or locking your bike. Basically, start with anything that you are not sure you can do with ease. Begin as simply as possible and do your own experiment. I know when I try to lock my bike at times I struggle with pulling the cord through etc. etc. Next time I will approach it with complete confidence and see what happens.

    There are so many ways to live our lives with more ease, reduce stress, feel happier, and be healthier. Let’s start with confidence and pancakes.

    Let’s build the muscle and see what happens. I would love to hear your adventures. Please post. Share with me at info@yourinspiredchoices.com or on Facebook.

    With confidence,

    Liz

    Recipe: Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes

    2 cups unbleached white flour
    1 cup whole wheat flour
    ¼ cup unrefined sugar (can use less)
    1 tsp of baking powder
    1 cup of milk (amount to preferred consistency)
    1 egg (optional)
    3 ripe bananas – Place bananas in blender or Vitamix with a small amount of water and blend to a fluid but not watery consistency
    1 tablespoon of oil – if desired
    1 or 2 pat(s) of butter for the pan or griddle

    Mix ingredients in the order listed.*

    Pour some batter into a one-cup measuring cup and add mini chocolate chips. You must add chips based on the amount of chocolate you prefer in the pancakes.

    *It is not advisable to add the chocolate chips to the entire mixture. This recipe makes enough to save and use again within the next couple of days. If saving is not desired to reduce proportions.

    Let the butter melt in the pan- when bubbling- mix the batter with chips and spoon out to create the pancakes. Heat till bubbles appear and flip with confidence.

    Happy eating!