The Anti-Pity Party

nocrying

Sunday F-Me Day. That’s the single mom mantra. That, or: TGIM! (Thank God it’s Monday!). I’m so pooped by Sunday night that I can go to a very dark place if I’m not careful. Yes, I love my kids endlessly. But F Me, it’s been 6 weeks again without a break or a weekend off. I didn’t sign up for this. When I married my husband, an Eagle Scout who had worked for Jimmy Carter at one point, I had NO clue that he’d leave after our 2nd baby was born. I never imagined that he’d choose another life, another person. And when I say leave, I mean leave. He lives in Europe and sees the boys 4 weeks a year. My break 6 weeks ago was due to my thoughtful mother-in-law who came to help. I’m so grateful for her. We’ve had our ups and downs; probably like all daughters & mother-in-laws, but she really understands what I’m going through and is baffled as well. Her son had the opportunity to take a job in San Francisco and even told his boys that he was taking it and would see them more often. He told them San Fran or New York, yay! They got so excited. But then, he didn’t take those jobs. And they haven’t seen him in a long time. His new job is in Amsterdam. Sigh. I can’t control him. I wish he hadn’t said anything to them, but I can’t change that either. So, I’m sad for them, AND lets be honest, I’m sad for me, too.

 

Lets face it. I’m ON 337 days a year without breaks! The 2 afternoons a week I have a sitter, I’m working, so it’s not really a break.. And it’s been 7 YEARS of this. So that’s ON Full-Time with the boys for nearly 2,359 days. It’s exhausting. It taken a toil on my social life, my work productivity, sometimes my sanity and most definitely my love life.

So that’s me having a pity party. Do I have cancer or am dying? NO. Am I homeless? NO. Are my boys the best things that ever happened to me and the best spiritual teachers in my life? YES.

Intellectually I know I’m the luckiest gal in the world. BUT…by Sunday evening, I’m pooped. And I think it has a lot to do with the way my weekends go. I can’t teach or do yoga on weekends because of their soccer schedules. So I’m racing around and not doing things for me. I don’t go out much anymore either, not since I ramped up my yoga teaching and am still writing! Yes, I’m working on my 3rd novel and am ridiculously excited about it, more so than the other two! So life is good, right?

Well, only, and I do mean only, if I take care of myself and get into the right head space.

The old me of three years ago, the pre-yoga, support group and TUT (tut.com) mentality, would whine and complain, and have a pity party. Mostly to myself—but still. It kept my vibration and my outlook bleak. I’m still a work in progress. If I get sick, or my kids do, and I’ve been ON for 5 to 6 weeks straight without help I can spiral again without self care. Two weeks ago I hit a low point again. It happens. I realized that with my 7 weekly classes of yoga I teach, I’m not actually working out much myself. The mucky brain, mild depression or pity party builds slowly, but usually by Sunday, with a little one who doesn’t want to get out much, and isn’t terribly independent, we can both get stuck in a rut. I try to turn inward. How can I love myself more? What can I do to take better care of myself?

Often times that means saying no to someone who is demanding. It’s not a coincidence that I attract people who want or seem to need a lot of my time or want help just to keep afloat. These folks distract me from taking care of myself. It’s a co-dependent side of me that I’m working on. But once I clear the deck and make space for clarity and calm me-time, I have the chance to mentally flip a switch and stop whatever tape is playing in my head, like a record rip in the old days: RRRIIIPPPP! and then I can take a deep breath and figure out what I need.

 

Last Sunday I had a family meeting with my two boys and asked my oldest to babysit every Sunday evening at 6 for a 2 hours so I can go to a friend’s Yin yoga class. That will be my treat after shopping, cooking, schlepping to soccer games all weekend. My oldest wasn’t happy about it at first, but when I explained that I need time for me, that we’re traveling all over California for his soccer games and then he’s out with his friends every weekend night till 9:30/10…there isn’t balance in the household. He needs to give back to me and his little brother who schleps around all weekend for his big brother’s stuff, too. My son was very sweet about it. It’ll give me a break and a little time to breathe. 

I can’t control what my ex does or doesn’t do.

I can’t change the past. I can’t change my situation. But I can change my outlook. I can embrace healthy habits, like a morning workout ritual, meditation, gratitude journals and my new practice of doing ‘That’s Rights’ taught to me by an awesome Andy Dooley in Peru last March. So, life is good. Life can be exhausting. But life is also so very precious. My mom just passed. My oldest will be in college in 3 years. I need to garner perspective.  I spent all weekend with my boys. Soccer games, beach time, biking, pizza, snuggling with movies, library time. And now, I’m off to zen out with lovely yogis who make my soul smile. This isn’t how I envisioned my life to be 10 years ago. Not at all. But maybe, just maybe, it’s better than how I envisioned it. Maybe I’d never have written my 2nd novel? (My 1st was written pre-marriage in grad school.) Maybe I’d never know my strength? Maybe I’d never realize my worth. Maybe I’d still be feeling inadequate and trying to live up to someone else’s expectations? Maybe I’d be hiding my spirituality and my intuitive gifts? Maybe I’d also never have found the courage to go through 4 yoga trainings and teach—after turning 40. Maybe I’d still feel tethered to the good-girl syndrome of trying to make everyone else happy? Hmmm…so many things have changed for the better haven’t they?

So maybe, just maybe, my authentic, conscious life is just beginning. Every Sunday F-Me Day, needs to be re-arranged in my mind as Sunday Fantastic Me Day. ha ha.

Thanks for reading! And if you can relate to my life, promise me you’ll do one thing for yourself today. You deserve it.❤

With Love & Gratitude ~

Laura x  

 

 

What my mother told me after she died.

rainbowsmimi

 

That title may alarm some people. But the fact is, our loved ones communicate with us all the time after they die. It’s as simple as one thought away. And it’s the most beautiful aspect of grief and death. So many people are distracted and numb and out of alignment so the idea of magic and eternal love and light isn’t a reality in their every day life. Yet it is. They are just not aware of it. When someone you love dearly dies, for weeks afterwards, you can feel them, dream about them, sometimes even hear their voice. It’s remarkable and it brings so much hope to those who have forgotten that there is life after death. We are spiritual beings having a physical experience. But life drones on. Responsibilities, work, routines can keep us from day dreaming, noticing beauty, magic. Hurts and regrets and pain can compound our vibration so that our hearts are heavy and we can barely muster hope when we see a beautiful sunset. We become out of sync with our divine selves. We are out of the frequency to hear or see the messages our loved ones send us.

When someone dies, however, we are forced to stop everything. We stop our daily routine. We stop work. We focus. We remember. We pray. We become grateful for what this person gave to us. We open up to the magic of life. And in this grateful, open, vulnerable state, we notice, or hear the messages. That is the gift when someone dies.

My mother died May 20th of this year. I flew to North Carolina on the 21st and on the 22nd (a dear friend will love that number, you know who you are!) I saw this double rainbow forming over the highway. I was driving with one of my sisters two hours to her house as she had the best picture of my mother that we all decided must be enlarged and placed at the entrance of her memorial service. So, we drove the two hours to my sister’s house. As we were driving the two hours back to Chapel Hill, this amazing rainbow started forming. Another formed on top. I took a video of it that I can’t upload for some reason…But right after I videoed the rainbow and was still watching it form, my dad called. I am not close with my dad. Well, that’s an understatement. I have forgiven him for the many disrespectful choices and things he did to my mother. I’ve forgiven him for things I still can’t mention, toward me and to my oldest sister, but I keep a boundary up for my own health. Yet I could feel my mother present with us and I could feel her forgiveness. I could feel her urging me and so I answered my sister’s phone and I spoke kindly to my father and even agreed to pick him up from the airport and take him to his hotel. He wanted to come to my mom’s funeral. He likely doesn’t even remember half of what happened during our childhood or even forgot some events with mom later—that’s what is so puzzling and hurtful and insane about alcoholism, and whatever else came into play. But I decided to let it go. He is old. He was sad. And clearly, my mother forgave him years ago.

On May 25th, the day of my mother’s funeral, the minister surprised the family by asking everyone to sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Us four siblings had put together the program and we all agreed upon speaking. I was the one who spoke about the power of music, as my mom played piano  by ear and communicated through music. I even provided her top song list as I kept it after we moved her into an Alzheimer’s facility. Somewhere Over the Rainbow wasn’t on it, nor was it mentioned. Perhaps one of my sisters suddenly asked the minister to add this? I don’t know. But my oldest sister and I began crying as we remembered the rainbow forming in the car just a few days earlier. It wasn’t a coincidence. Mom was telling us everything would be ok. Listen to the lyrics. My two sisters aren’t physically well. They both have autoimmune disorders and serious stress and I wish so much I could take away their pain. My big brother even admitted to losing his faith in God after my mom developed early-onset Alzheimer’s. It wasn’t fair. She was a social worker with a huge, kind heart, and helped so many without ever asking for anything in return. He felt it was cruel. It was hard on him to see her, and he lived so close to her facility. It was hard on all of us to lose her. My mom was sending us all a message of hope. To not harden or become cynical in life. To stay aware of the magic that is subtle, but always there.

That evening, as I was coming home to my brother’s house, after walking around with my childhood best friend, we saw this little lime green frog on my brother’s door.

friendfrog

Frogs like this just don’t appear on doors in North Carolina. I know a lot about frogs. As a little girl I collected them. In fact, I would sit by a pond in the woods surrounding the horse trails and watch for hours waiting for the tadpoles to finally leap out of the water onto the Earth as precious little frogs. I’d put them in containers and take care of them until they were big enough (or so I thought) to ward off predators. Some kids had imaginary friends, I had friend frogs. Neighbors would capture rare red ones or orange ones and bring them to me for my collection. Yup, I was that kind of kid. To this day, my siblings still buy me frog paraphernalia for birthday or Christmas gifts. So to see this frog on the evening of my mom’s funeral was just a little reminder that I was loved, watched after, and was special. I was teased a lot as a child for being stupid. Not by my mom, but by my dad and siblings. I barely spoke until I was 11 and daydreamed constantly. I guess you could say I have always been partly in another dimension or watching for what was happening underneath the surface. I could sit outside watching birds fight for territory for hours. I would get mesmerized by the way light sparkles on dust particles. Listening to the wind through the pines I’d imagine someone whispering to me. Inside the house, I sometimes wrote invisible words or names on the ceiling and imagined them dancing or fighting over me. When sitting at the table for dinner, I paid attention to how words were spoken and whether a person’s eyes were sad or angry, or whether arms were crossed—and often didn’t hear or listen to what was actually being said.

Mom was telling me that was my gift. That’s why I can still hear her. For weeks she’s come to me in my dreams. I see her in her garden. I see her playing her piano. Talking with me about boys in her blue kitchen. One dream was funny, with her and her friends laughing over her fridge magnet of Nixon with the words: “Thank God he kept our boys out of Northern Ireland.” She was suggesting a similar one about Trump. It was funny. She was engaging. I loved talking politics with her. When I became a journalist, I had ground my day dreaming wire, but I still watched body language, especially when covering murder trials or interviewing politicians. I’m glad I’m not in that world anymore, but I remember how much fun it was to talk with my mom about it all.

My dreams showed me her quirky side before her mind was ravaged by Alzheimer’s or before she was stressed and heart broken. And I could feel that she’s returned to her quirky, beautiful, poetic, funny, musical self.

Over the past two months, through signs and messages and songs and dreams, these are the things she has told me:

There is no way to sum up the entire life of another person with a quick comment, so don’t read gossip crappy news or watch any of it. Don’t participate in judgmental gossip.

Strive to be happy now, with your life exactly as it is.

Forgive everyone. We have to let go of our judgements against others based on one or two things that they may have done. That doesn’t mean we become door mats and let in every person who hurts us over and over again—but let go of resentment.

You are enough, exactly as you are.

You are special.

You don’t need to prove yourself to anyone.

Those who hurt us the most are expressing their own internal pain. They are bleeding inside from issues and scars we may know nothing about it. So ignore whatever hurtful words they say to you.

Follow your heart.

Get out in nature every day if possible.

Don’t Let In anyone go who is negative or who stirs up drama in any way.

Have fun. Be silly. Laugh more. Let the dishes stay in the sink every now and then.

Don’t try to fit in. Be nice and polite when needed, but show your true feelings whenever you can.

Take risks. True love exists for every person at any age.

Stay true to yourself.

Take care of yourself: your body is your temple.

You are deserving—remember that, but don’t forget to give back.

Be grateful.

Be humble.

Own up to your mistakes, but don’t punish yourself for them.

If you’re ever on an ego trip, pause and give to someone else.

If you give too much of yourself or try to control others, step back and allow others the dignity to make their own mistakes and choices.

Trust your gut, not your ego.

Don’t worry so much about pleasing others. Please yourself and be yourself and those who float into your life will be divinely orchestrated to be with you.

~ Thanks for reading this long post! My wish is that it brings a little ray of hope into your day.

Make it a beautiful one.

Laura XO

 

Finding Comfort Outsize the Zone

WandMomNice

Photo: June 2008, Nice, France

When I was 15 I convinced my father to let me travel throughout Europe for an entire summer. Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, England and Ireland. I had been to London when I was 11, as my dad had taken a temporary academic position there, and that’s probably what got me interested in traveling more. But I’m still amazed that I had the curiosity and drive to pursue that European tour and convince my father to pay for me do it at such a young age! It meant that I had to leave all my friends, my serious boyfriend and my family in North Carolina during my sweet 16 summer.  None of my friends had traveled internationally. No one was encouraging me. I just saw a random ad about a high school student program that allowed kids to travel together around the world to promote peace and understanding. Not one teacher suggested it. I think I just stumbled upon the ad on a bulletin board and thought ‘Yeah, I’m doing this.’ Amazing. This was pre-cell phone days too, people. No Facebook either.

I was talking with my oldest son tonight as he has friends here in California who don’t know the difference between a city and a country or a country and a continent. One friend thought London was a city within France and wasn’t sure where Paris was…My son didn’t understand how a kid who makes good grades would be so unaware. I had to remind him that he was unique. Since his father lives in Europe and we, as a family, used to live in London, this 14-year-old has traveled throughout the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Japan, Austria and Switzerland. He’s a lucky and smart kid. And he doesn’t always see eye to eye with his So Cal friends. So I reminded him that they likely haven’t had the opportunity to travel. But then I thought about my junior year in high school. Why did I want to go abroad? I had a boyfriend who loved me—and that I’d have to leave for an entire summer— an eternity for teenagers! Plus, my friends weren’t particularly interested in traveling past the North Carolina coastline. I really don’t know why I wanted to jump outside of my comfort zone. But I did have access, at an early age, to meeting people from all over the world.  My mother’s and father’s friends and colleagues from the academic world talked about their travels. I had exposure to people from differing backgrounds. My dad’s colleagues in his department at Duke University were from all over the world. Having them over for dinner was fascinating. I recall the time a Chinese couple came to visit who spoke no English. It was eye opening. And I realized, at an early age, that travel equaled excitement. You never knew who you might meet. And the other thing I realized was that there are more kind people who are similar to me, (despite speaking another language) than there are those who want to hurt me in this world. It’s liberating to know this. It frees a woman to consider traveling alone and not being marred in fear. My parents, by virtue of their occupations, taught me that. It lessened my fear. My trip when I was 16 opened my eyes, even more than my trip to the UK when I was 11.

 

There are so many reasons why, but I’ll give you one example. I met a sweet couple in Russia who were so poor they couldn’t afford to go on a honeymoon after their wedding. The bride, who worked at the hotel where we stayed in Leningrad, talked with me every night for a week. She was only 3 years older than me. I gave her make up and stockings and even did her hair. I don’t remember her name, but I know that I helped her feel beautiful on the week she was married. Her gratitude and tears made me feel so much love I thought I would burst. It was infectious. Wherever I went that summer, I met other kids with similar hearts and desires and quirky senses of humor. Friends from Denmark, England and Ireland visited me for years afterwards.

 

Why am I writing this today? Well, I’m thinking about so many things. The terrorist attack in Nice and my last trip there eight years ago while pregnant with my youngest. William was only six years old and had already traveled more than most Americans. That trip was wonderful. I was pregnant with hope and love and possibility for our growing family. Yet I stepped outside my comfort zone even there. Going to markets alone with William and trying to speak the language. (Yet, discovering the real language was always one of love.) People would smile as I let William smell lavender or rosemary or explained what mussels were or let him try particular cheeses. I loved those markets. I loved the mountain town of Eze above Nice. I loved the love I felt there and felt within. Travel is like that. We see those who we think we have nothing in common with, only to realize that we have everything in common with. It’s so simple and so true. Love is alive and well and always will be.

 

So tonight I’m thinking about how I’ve always stepped outside of my comfort zone from an early age and it’s not easy to do and doesn’t really get any easier. People will tell you to still travel or embrace adventure and new things, but getting out of your head and fear is hard. For me, I just force myself into it and then since I’m so polite, I feel compelled to follow through. Which is hilarious. But, the over-thinking about what scares me is what drives me crazy. I typically decide to do it (whatever: travel, new adventure), force myself into it an then steep in the fear until the day I leave. It’s like when I signed up to be a camp counselor teaching canoeing, and then had to learn how to canoe! It’s so me. It was terrifying until I took that first lesson, or watched others do it and then entered into the adventure.

It’s the part in the mind that’s the hardest to overcome. So I just sort of jump and then say ‘oh shit’ and hustle to figure it out later. I’m not sure if it’s a great strategy for all aspects of life—but if you’re worried you’ll never leap into an adventure, it forces your hand! I’ve done this so many times…tomorrow at a huge surf party in San Onofre, will be another.

I step outside of my comfort zone all the time here in Southern California trying to make an effort, or trying to be social, or trying to take a chance on love, or trying to fit into this surf / volleyball / beach culture that I didn’t grow up in.

I just have to remember that whether I’m here on the beach with surfers feeling judged by how I look in a bikini—or whether I’m in a bistro in Europe feeling judged for not being able to speak 3 languages or not being as up-to-date on international politics as the others at the table—it’s all the same feeling. It’s a fear of being judged. It’s a fear of not being enough. It’s a fear of not fitting in.

When I step outside of ‘trying’ to fit in and just embrace wherever I am as a new adventure, I remember that we all have hearts that beat and pulse blood in the same manner. We have the same desires deep down. There is no reason ‘to try.’ I will be present and I will be me and I will listen to others and smile. That’s when the magic happens. I won’t try to pretend that I’m anyone other than who I am. When I just connect with others I realize that’s what we are here for. That is what matters. That’s where the magic is. We are all so similar. I see me in you and you in me. Even the parts I don’t want to see…Especially those parts.

Today I am open to all that is possible. I can’t stop the pain and the sorrow from all the chaos in the world today. The fear from these events can cause me to crumble if I let it. Instead, I choose to embrace light and health and exploring new friendships, while still saying a prayer for those in need and in sorrow.

 

 

 

He Left You, Don’t Abandon You, Too

 

This post is for the single mom who wrote to me privately after reading my post Being Worth The Effort. Our dialogue broke my heart. When you wrote: “I’ll never feel worthy of a man’s love,” I could tell that your mind was made up. There was nothing I could say to reach into that depth of pain and change your mind. Platitudes don’t work.

The pain that a woman feels after being cheated on and abandoned with little children to take care of is unbearable. It sinks deep into your bones. And it’s very hard to come out from this feeling positive and trusting and hopeful—or worthy of a good life. But it is possible. And you’re on the right track. I know because you are feeling it. The women who run from it, point fingers, blame, drink a lot, date a lot, are masking the pain. And there’s no shame. We all do what we can to survive. You are going to get through this.

I don’t have all the answers. I know what worked, and didn’t work,  for me. And I want to share this as the club we are in, the full-time single mom’s club, is one that no one should comment on unless they have membership. To say our lives are hard, is an understatement. To say our lives have more meaning than most is also an understatement. To that end, I focus. I am the rock for my kids. I, like you, am the one who cooks, cleans, shuffles back and forth to school & practices and who has very little social life because of a lack of support. We are the ones going solo to games, celebrations, helping with homework, staying up all night when they are sick. We have no weekends off, unless there is help from family. Sometimes family isn’t always uplifting help either. We are bombarded with guilt and exhaustion and loneliness.

But please promise me that you will never, EVER, say you are not worthy of a man’s love again. What your husband said to you as he was leaving shows his level of consciousness. Shame on him. Don’t let what he did—or what he said to justify what he did—eat away at your soul. It’s easier said then done. I know. This is also a club whose membership is one that few want admittance to. But it’s our journey. And when you come out on the other side, I hope you’ll feel as lucky and as hopeful as I do today.

With that said, I know how painful it is, especially with really little children. I get it. You are tired. You are lonely. But you are also so very special and strong. Your children love you endlessly. They are safe because of you. They see the world with love and peace because of you. Their father, if he shows back up in any way, will still be the one who gave them up, who left, who put another woman or selfish needs above them. YOU, are showing them that they are more important than anything in this Universe. Is there anything more precious than that?

Intellectually you get that, I know. But when you’re in the trenches and exhausted and sleep deprived, it’s hard for the message to sink in. Just keep going. Your children are babies. It’s hard to garner a really good perspective when feeling alone, abandoned and exhausted. I so remember those days. I don’t like to think about them anymore. But I will share them for YOU. I will share them because 7 years ago I was where you are now and am in such a better place today. I, too, had nights when I was up and down with a baby alone. I recall sobbing into my pillow while breastfeeding and praying my older child wouldn’t hear. I had no idea how I would make it. Who to trust. When my ex left he said horrible things to me, like I wasn’t enough. When he left, we had an 8 month old and a devastated 7 year old. The things he called me to justify what he did, aren’t suitable for this forum. But they ate at my soul. Between exhaustion, depression and little sleep, after a year, I nearly broke down. I began having panic attacks. I fell down on a city street with the baby in a bjorn. No one helped me up. I remember seeing stars on the walk home and thinking how badly I wanted to call my mom, then riddled with Alzheimer’s. I had never felt more alone. I didn’t want to ask for help or tell anyone, because I feared it would sound like I was having a pity party.

When I went back to work, my baby, now 2, kept getting sick, three emergency room visits within a year. (I found out later it was due to toxic mold in our house.) I was at my wits end. I was up all night. My first boyfriend post separation was jealous of my time with the kids and with work and the pressure nearly killed me. He urged me to quit my job due to my stress and health, but was overly involved and threatening about it, suggesting he might even cheat from lack of seeing me. It triggered my need not to let things fall apart. The needless guilt I carried over for not ‘being enough’ for my husband was projected onto this man unconsciously, and I put him first and resigned from a job. I wasn’t stable due to the lack of sleep and from not taking enough time to heal before I started dating. I lost friends because of it. I apologized, but the damage was done. In the end, people who haven’t experienced this sort of trauma, and it is a kind of trauma, just can’t understand. Keep your head up and don’t try to make people understand. Here is a list of things that I feel strongly about, that helped me. Hopefully these will help you on this journey too:

  • Fake it till you make it.
  • Tell yourself your life is great when you wake up. Seriously, do it. “Thank you for an amazing life. Thank you for another day. Thank you for my babies. Thank you for this bed, this apartment”…these are what I used to say.
  • Smile every time you leave your house. Make it look easy until you start to feel like it is easy. People will wonder what your secret is. Let them. Don’t let them know you cried yourself to sleep. Don’t be ashamed of it, but just know you are moving forward. Smile like a Cheshire cat with a secret, because you DO have one. Your life is going to be great and on your terms, very soon.
  • Trust in the Universe. I know, it’s hard, but try it anyway.You have a journey and an important reason for being here. You are divine, eternal. Trust you will be OK.
  • Be patient with your kids and remember they are gifts from God. Count to 10 if they tantrum. Mine had colic. Put him in a swing or crib and take 10 deep breaths before coming back. This, too, shall pass.
  • Tell your children they are special. Tell them you love them, every, damn day.
  • Tell people how wonderful your children are, even on days when they have tantrums.
  • Write in a journal the funny things they do or say so you can give them to them when they are older.
  • Take a lot of pictures of the kids smiling, of you and the kids smiling.
  • Every time you smile, remember your smile is an awesome achievement! Your ex can’t take away your right to be happy. Wear your smile proudly.
  • Write in a gratitude journal every night, even if you only write: ‘I am grateful I ate dinner.’ It’ll snowball until you are bursting with gratitude.
  • Find a way to exercise and get out of your head. Even if you take the stairs at work, or buy an exercise video and do it in the morning or night. Maybe put the little ones in a stroller and run in the morning. Find a way to get endorphins flowing.
  • Swap babysitting with a friend.
  • Join a library and join a free reading group for the kids or for you! If they have a career group with your library, or speakers go, it’s free!
  • Start exploring every thing you liked to do before you had kids. Make a list and a dream board.
  •  Join a Meetup group for meditation or hiking or picnics with other single parents.
  • Join support groups, but limit your time in ones where parents are bashing their exes or wallowing in their stories without figuring out ways to improve their lives. You’ll get lost in their stories and their fear may linger into your day.
  • Don’t bash your ex EVER in front of the kids.
  • Avoid going out with friends who drink too much or talk smack about their exes in front of your kids.
  • Begin your own traditions. Kids love them.
  • Be super selective when you start to date. Avoid men who insinuate your children are in the way. Break it off with anyone who belittles you or drinks and is obnoxious in front of your children. Your children will ONLY see people being respectful to you from now on.
  • Find a spiritual practice. Whether it is  yoga (I know that’s expensive, but check out cheap online yoga or DVDs!), church, meditation, a positive therapy support group, etc. Find a way to surround yourself with messaging that you are enough.
  • Don’t tell your story to everyone. Many people won’t understand or will freak out about it. It’s human nature to want to point fingers, to find reasons to explain something. She must have done something. Or she wasn’t a good wife, etc. because then it assures them that they will never have to go through anything similar. I tried to talk with a friend who asked about my situation and she kept saying things like, “You must have had a clue you were in a bad marriage” or “There must have been signs that he wasn’t happy.” That conversation poured salt into my wounds and no, I hadn’t a clue and we were happier than most of our married friends. Go figure. So, be very careful who you talk with as the ‘talk’ may end up making you miserable. You don’t need it.
  • Remember, sometimes shit happens and it’s not a reflection on you. YOU are NOT to blame for your husband’s infidelity. AT ALL.You are both on your own journeys. You are worthy of love and of having a faithful husband. We can’t control what other people do, but we can control how we respond to them. Remind yourself of this during the divorce process as it gets worse sometimes before it gets better.
  • Get a weekly game plan. By Sunday you will be so exhausted you might cry when watching cartoons. How can you get a break? Is there a daycare at a church? Even if you sleep while they are in daycare an hour, it’s worth it! Do you have a supportive bff who could watch the kids for an hour while you sleep?
  • As you start to heal and find moments of happiness, strength and health, don’t get discouraged if some of your friends aren’t supportive or happy for you. It reflects their consciousness, fears or that they are stuck in the victim role. Some want to be miserable with others. Some want to have complaining buddies. Don’t go there. Just drift and say a prayer or light a candle for them. We ALL deserve to be happy, healthy and at peace.
  • Post the word RESPECT in all caps on your bathroom mirror. You have been through a lot. Respect yourself. Not many can do what you do with as much grace and love. I’ve seen CEOs & olympic athletes fall apart when their kids have tantrums. What you do is HARD.
  • It will get better. Life will become easier. Believe that.
  • The love and patience you show your children, will come back to you.
  • Your children will never, ever forget what you do for them. They are worth it and you are worth it.
  • No man will ever bring you happiness and a feeling of worth. Not completely. And That’s OK. Be happy anyway.
  • Breathe deeply every day and know you are getting closer to your best life, your best self.

 

 

With much Love & RESPECT,

Laura xo

Setting Intentions & Filling Our Glass

Ice_cold_water

I’m sharing this post by Hope Koppelman, creative director and editor at TUT. I love this article as it reminds me that I am in control. I can make space for that daily morning routine. And if I choose to stay up late and write, or if my youngest wakes me up in the middle of the night and I sleep in, I can always start again. Intentions are so powerful. And what’s even more powerful are the baby steps one takes to ensure that intentions become a reality. That’s what I love about Hope’s article. For instance, Hope writes: “If your goal is to start running, set the space by choosing your running clothes the night before, schedule the exact time you plan to run each day, plan your route, plan your distance, plan your playlist.”

 

For those of you who are not great planners, it is never too late to begin. We are never stuck. Every day we can wake up and live intentionally with the goal of making space for what we love, want, dream, etc. Happiness expert and Harvard professor Shawn Achor told Oprah in a recent Super Soul Sunday interview (I’m paraphrasing) that joy comes while striving to reach our highest potential. Happiness doesn’t come from reaching a destination, but rather during the journey and by living mindfully and with purpose and intention. Achor told Oprah that it doesn’t matter whether your glass is half empty or half full because there is a pitcher of water right next to it. Life is the pitcher and we can look for ways to fill up our glass. Setting intentions and planning the baby steps to make them come true is how to fill our glass.

This article by Hope re-enforces that. I choose to be happy now. I choose to focus on what brings me joy and brings me closer to my life’s purpose. I choose to appreciate and be with those who bring meaning and laughter into my life. Isn’t this what it’s all about? But sometimes we need to make space for it all, so we don’t spin out of control with too many distracting demands. And if you find yourself spinning and not making space for what’s important to you, take a moment to assess. Do you need to set boundaries and put yourself on your To-Do list?

Read Hope’s article. It’ll inspire you.:

Here’s to a beautiful week filled with baby steps leading you on a fun journey.

Laura x

Locked & Loaded in Need of Reform

kid-reaching-for-gun

This independence day had me questioning, once again, whether we are truly better off as a nation since garnering independence from Britain. I’ve lived in England, and as a parent, must say how refreshing it was not to have to worry about guns. There was no need to call parents before play-dates and ask if the guns were locked in a safe. (My fellow southern moms know what that’s like.) And there was no worry that schools will get shut down as an armed teenage gunman seeks bloody vengeance. Living through a school shooting as a teen has given me an appreciation for just how insane our country is to allow easy access to guns for mentally unstable teens or adults for that matter.

So who is to blame when parents allow children access to loaded guns? And, at what point should our government get involved? Do we lock up parents who don’t lock up their guns? Do we give jail time to the parent who takes a child to shooting range when someone is killed? Do we need better legislation such as age restrictions at shooting ranges?

Yesterday I cried while reading this story about a Florida father who accidentally killed his 14-year-old son at a shooting range. After the video within this story, I saw another video about a child who never got over accidentally killing his baby sister when playing with his father’s loaded gun. Can you imagine? And then there is the horrific story of a nine-year-old girl who accidentally shot and killed her gun instructor with an uzi while taking lessons at a gun range. Nicole Flatow’s article  The Tragic Insanity of Gun Ranges points out that there are no age restrictions at gun ranges and, sadly, no checks are in place to rent guns at ranges. WTF?

“They don’t have to pass a criminal background check. There’s no check of their mental health records, although some require individuals to attest to their mental competence. Many gun ranges don’t even collect names or identification. And that’s not even the worst part,” Flatow reported.

Because gun renters aren’t “in possession” of the fire arms, they are only renting them, no background checks are legally required or allowed. Which explains why one mentally unstable mom in Florida shot her son and herself at a range in 2009.

No charges were filed in any of the deaths that I described. Maybe we should reconsider this? Should it be legal, for instance, to give a nine-year-old an uzi? Is it legal to allow children access to loaded guns within the house? If a death occurs, shouldn’t the parent, the person the gun is licensed to, carry some blame, almost like an accomplice? Shouldn’t their gun license, in the very least, be revoked and some jail time or public service be demanded? Just how are we trying to stop these events from continuing?

Seriously, how many accidental shootings do we need to hear about before making viable gun legislation? Is the NRA that powerful? Surely no one would argue that the 2nd amendment was created to give irresponsible parents the right to give children and teens access to loaded guns? I think not. And should children be allowed to go into shooting ranges? Do they really need to know how to shoot uzis or automatic riffles? For peat sake.

I am sick to death of gun deaths. Over July 4th weekend, shootings occurred in every state, with at least 64 shootings and 10 deaths in Chicago alone.

I found this site called Gun Violence Archive, a non profit organization providing public information about gun violence in America. As of June 18th, there has been nearly 27,000 ‘incidents’. Out of that, 1,500 teens have been killed, 302 children and 1,143 ‘accidental’ shootings. There have been nearly 7,000 deaths by guns and more than 14,324 injuries by shootings. And it’s only July. As the heat soars, experts say shootings increase.  According to TheTrace.org in the summer of 2015, 4,080 people were killed by guns, and more than 9,000 Americans were wounded in shootings. The article Just Another Bloody Summer is eye-opening. Sadly, MomsRising.org calculated that 2,500 children die each year in America from gun shootings.

 

I’m tired of it. I’m almost ready to go back to England. Moms out there, does it bother you too? Are you as disgusted as I am? Most of us moms aren’t hunters or as big of gun enthusiasts as our men out there, but we can vote. We can pressure congress for gun legislation. MomsRising.org is a group vying for rights for families and is behind gun legislation reform. Go to their GunSafety Page to sign up and join their petitions to congress to create affective gun safety laws, such as criminal background checks for all gun purchases.

Lets, for once, put children first in #merica. Do you agree?

Sick and tired today,

Laura

 

 

 

 

Wives Who Refuse to Work: Strikes Chord

holding finger

This morning I woke up to read a post by the always insightful Lisa Belkin, whom I’ve been following for at least 15 years. Today she asked her followers on social media for thoughts about this Letter published in The Guardian newspaper entitled: A Letter to My Wife, Who Won’t Get a Job, While I Work Myself To Death.

 

As I read the letter, and the many comments and harsh judgements in response, I started wondering what else was going on in this couple’s relationship. There is undoubtedly more to the story than meets the eye.And isn’t that always the case when only one side is presented? Didn’t he mention that she did work part-time at one point but it didn’t pay well? But for arguments sake, lets just imagine that this man’s letter is truthful and reveals the whole story.

 

Wow, as a former parenting & pregnancy editor, and a careers writer for years—and a single mom, this letter struck a chord. And, apparently, it did with many other women as well. Remember all the trends in parenting over the past decade? There’s been the Lean In argument verses the Opt Out one. Lisa Belkin actually coined the Opt Out term, referring to educated women who stop working. Here’s a Pew Research Study that confirms 10 % of all educated women in America permanently opt out of the workforce.

Women are their worst enemies it seems. We can publicly shame others and find fault in just about anything a mom does or doesn’t do. Opt out and homeschool? You are ignorant, fearful and financially irresponsible. Work long hours as a partner in a law firm? You must be selfish, materialistic and risking your kids’ health and well-being. Remember the backlash on Tiger Parenting? (Time Magazine wrote a piece about the real effects of Tiger Moms on their children. Go Here to read it.)

Women criticize each other on just about everything—where as men seem to shrug things off more with a Live and Let Live attitude. Maybe a man disapproves of another man’s choice to stay home with his kids for a few years while his wife works, but rarely does that man get angry and write a scathing letter or op-ed to The Wall Street Journal or New York Times bludgeoning that man’s choice. Women, however, are different. We seem to want to make others’ choices wrong so we can feel better about our own—a sign that we are too caught up in worrying about what others think? At least, that’s how it seems to me. Or, we want to justify what we choose, like Opting Out of the workforce for a few years, so that others can see our point of view and still approve of us. But at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is what you and your partner feel good about. If a person decides to spend more time with his/her kiddos, that’s his/her choice. And if a woman opts out, the husband had to have been on board with it at some point.

So when does that point end? My question for the author of that letter is at what point did your wife ‘not working’ become a massive bourdon filling you with anger, resentment and seething indignation? And did you relay this information to her clearly and honestly? This letter feels like a justification for leaving her.

I strongly feel that couples often don’t communicate strongly enough and clearly enough about their agreements. If they did, they could each adjust and change and move forward. But sometimes, they don’t want to adjust, change and move forward. They want an exit strategy. I would guess that even if this woman got a job tomorrow, her husband’s resentment wouldn’t vanish and they may split anyway. There are other matters at work if the two couldn’t talk about this issue before and start working toward a solution.

I can relate to what this husband is relaying, however, because I slightly lived through it. I never opted out entirely from the workforce, but I didn’t live up to my husband’s changing standards. I’ll explain. After our baby was born, my husband and I decided that I’d stay a freelancer, rather than enter the full-time workforce, until our child entered kindergarten. My husband was on board with this agreement, until he wasn’t. And that was discovered via stressed out comments and me over-hearing what he said to male friends whose wives worked full-time. It was a harsh wake up call to me that our agreement didn’t matter and somehow I was the last to know.

Here’s how our agreement (to let me freelance verses full-time work) began. I was offered a full-time journalism teaching position at Loyola Marymount University when my oldest was 9 months old. I panicked. Yes, it was a cool gig and I’d edit the student newspaper and all other publications while teaching students and mentoring the student writers at the paper. And then suddenly it seemed like an awful lot of work for very little pay. Day care cost more than what I’d earn. So, we decided as a couple, that I’d turn the position down and just continue to freelance as an editor and writer until our baby was in kindergarten. It would also allow us to be mobile—a good thing since we moved to Atlanta and to London within a two year time frame and my clients went with me.

I thought, as a wife who continued to freelance and keep her career track stable, while also doing the lion share of parenting, allowing my hubs to work long hours and move up in his field, that I was a very good egg. But clearly I wasn’t in his eyes, even though he rarely told me. Again, I overheard things or would get snide comments.

Thank God kindergarten started one year earlier in England than in the US, as my husband was clearly “over” our agreement and on a campaign to change me. I’m such a smart person, shouldn’t I be doing something other than writing so I can actually earn more money? He was over my profession in general. I was editing books on contract and writing for magazines that didn’t pay terribly well, but was also able to spend more time with our three-year-old, allowing my husband to travel, work long hours and rise within his company and attract eyes of recruiters. I thought I was pitching in. But he was stressed out. Yes we moved for his job. Yes, he wanted to live in London. Yes, I was the only expatriate wife that I knew in our circle of friends who was able to work part-time. Still, London is one of the most expensive cities in the world.

Once I took a full-time editor job, it was like a huge audible sigh was released within our marriage. The pressure was off of him completely. The job paid well and I could work from home, so I oversaw the part-time nanny, was still able to go to parent-teacher conferences or school plays and could still manage our household—allowing husband to continue work travel and his long hours. We could save more, vacation more and just breathe.

Why am I sharing this personal tidbit? Because I think couples often get stuck in a rut of holding tightly to past agreements. I wanted to sternly hold on to the understanding that I’d go back to full time work once my son was in kindergarten. It was rational. It made sense. But living in London and all it’s massive expense, was triggering fear in my husband. The agreement needed to be re-thought out. And it was. But there was another side to this story too. I WAS working and doing most of the parenting, allowing the husband to be able to do whatever it took to rise in his field. I wonder what the real story is in this letter? Did this woman work part-time but didn’t want to be a partner because of the hours and because her husband wasn’t around? Perhaps he needed to work extremely long hours to make partner and she wanted that for him? And besides, when kids were small,  she’d still have to do the majority of the parenting, cooking, help with homework, carpooling, etc.? Maybe now she is planning on working now that the kiddos are off to college?

This couple has let so many years go by that likely the husband has bottled up his anger and it’s now overflowing. She likely may feel entitled and mis-understood and not appreciated. Raising kids isn’t easy work. Maybe she manages all their finances and cooks, cleans and manages all the family vacations and family communications. (Why is it that women tend to send out all the holiday cards, plan all the birthday parties, for instance? Is it demanded within our XX chromosome? I hate that.)

What are your thoughts? Some followers of Lisa Belkin wrote in scathingly to the wife of this letter—even calling her stupid. In their eyes, she was stupid for putting her marriage at risk, for not being a good role model for her children, for not contributing financially, and more importantly, for not keeping her career on track in case her husband died or left her “for a younger model.”

Ouch. How much fear is in all of those statements??

 

I instinctively feel that it’s always important for a woman to work, even if just part-time or freelance in order to stay in the game. It’s good for the pocketbook, it’s good for the self esteem and it provides intellectual stimulation away from the family dynamic. But, my view, by no means, is a harsh judgement against my fellow stay-at-home moms. Some women feel that their husbands would have NO way to move up in their fields if their wives didn’t do all the childrearing.  We live in a country that allows freedom of choice and we are all on own journey of self discovery. She was married to an attorney. Maybe his hours were brutal? Maybe she thought it was the best for their family and he agreed and couldn’t bring himself to say differently until he was DONE. Maybe he has his eye on a young female attorney and just wants an exit clause? Who knows.

Thoughts? Is it okay in this day and age for a well-educated woman to stay home until her kids enter college? Does a husband need his wife to earn money in order to “feel loved?” And, if so, to flip that coin, a wife must need a partner to help with raising the kids and household tasks to “feel loved.” Hmmm….I’m suddenly feeling better about not being married anymore. Sigh. Doing all the work without expectations of help, or without resentment or feelings of unworthiness due to this drama, is actually a relief.

Feel the same? Feel different?

Chime in!

Always grateful to those of you who read my musings!

Laura

Being Worth the Effort

makineffort

WORTH.

It’s a loaded word. And people write A LOT about it. Here are some quotes swirling around social media these days:

“When you know your worth, you’ll stop giving people discounts.”

“The moment you feel like you have to prove your worth to someone is the moment to absolutely and utterly walk away.”

“Your Value Doesn’t Decrease Based on Someone’s Inability to See Your Worth.” (My favorite.)

“Never force yourself to have a space in anyone’s life. If they know your worth, they will surely create one for you.”

“Know your worth. It makes no sense to be second in someone’s life when you can be first in someone else’s.”

“Make sure you don’t start seeing yourself through the eyes of those who don’t value you. Know your worth, even if they don’t.”

###

Ok, here’s what I think about all of this short tough love worth advice:

Knowing intellectually that you are worthy of love and deserving of being treated respectfully is one thing. It’s on an intellectual level. But truly feeling your worth on a cellular level—and living your life based on that deep knowing—is a different matter entirely.

Think about it.

There are a lot of factors in why we allow others to treat us badly. Some have been abused as children or watched neglect or abuse between their parents and on some subconscious level, don’t feel worthy of anything different. I’ve known wonderful, extremely talented and kind people who say they want to be treated well, but keep taking back neglectful, hurtful, toxic, or abusive boyfriends or spouses or girlfriends.

Some in this world appear to have enslaved themselves within dead or abusive marriages, too. From the outside it’s hard to understand.

Having lived on both sides of the spectrum: the side that watched abuse and neglect as a child and who allowed neglect and abuse in my relationships—to the person who owns her worth, is on her own, and who will no longer tolerate the abuse, neglect drama cycle…I know compliance to ANY type of abuse: emotional, physical or psychological, boils down to deep-rooted fears.

Intellectually I’ve always felt worthy—even when I stayed with someone who belittled, neglected and disrespected me. Even when I was with someone who never accepted me for who I am and tried to change me, while comparing me to others. I still felt worthy. I’ve been with a few people like that. And shame on me. Intellectually I knew I deserved better.But maybe this type of behavior ebbed and flowed? Maybe it was what I knew—what I grew up with. What I was comfortable living within the parameters of. EVEN though I would never, ever admit it. And, with girlfriends, would complain and always say I deserved better, bla bla. Perhaps I thought things would change? Perhaps I thought therapy, or my own inner work would make things different? Perhaps I bought into the other person’s viewpoint and tried to change until I no longer knew who I was? I mean, the love was there, right? Or was it? I was stuck in a drama rut. That’s what I now call it. And it’s insane. And it’s disrespectful to both parties as it always spirals into a destructive dynamic based on unmet and dashed expectations, hurt feelings and perhaps depression or an inability to communicate. It’s soul crushing. But many of us live in the lows and the highs and get used to this turbulent and distracting ride. It distracts us from reaching our highest potential. It distracts us from truly living, loving, growing and having authentic relationships filled with gratitude, respect and open communication.

I imagine that 99.5% of us would agree with every quote that I listed above. We agree intellectually. But less than half of us likely take the steps necessary to get out of bad relationships until they are beyond destructive and our health and wellbeing is tanking.

It’s due to fears. The biggies? A fear that there will be no one else out there better for us. Or the fear that it’ll be too hard or impossible to survive financially solo. Or maybe the fear is about being too old to start over? Another biggie: the fear of judgement. What will  family and friends think? Oh, there are so many fears.

Knowing your worth, therefore, is intrinsically linked with trusting the Universe. More people would leave a person who belittled, abused, cheated  or neglected them—if they trusted that life would be OK after walking out the door. Fear is debilitating.

Think about it. If you trusted more and feared less, what would you still put up with? And if you’d decide to keep trying, how long would you put up with it? After one year of therapy wtihout any change? Two years? Would you finally settle back into the status quo?  

What if  your guardian angel whispered in your ear tonight that you would definitely win the $10 million lottery jackpot and lose 15 pounds this year, how would you feel? Would you change anything in your life right now? Think about it. Would you be more confident? Would you want to keep the current relationships you now have—exactly as they are? Would you wait to see if others were sincere and were willing to make an effort before letting them into your now valuable and desirable life?

Read those two paragraphs again. Maybe journal on it. It’s powerful.

What’s even more powerful, is if you lived ‘as if’ all of the above is true.

Because it is.

Your life is already valuable and desirable because it is yours. YOU, (and I) are valuable and desirable and deserving of love and deserving of others making an effort for. But maybe you need more proof before making any changes or standing up for yourself or your needs?

It takes a leap of faith—especially for those of us who weren’t validated as children or by spouses or who were raised to give and give and expect nothing in return. You are worth someone making an effort for. And you are worth making more of your own effort for … like taking a step in a positive direction.

It takes faith. It takes trust. It’s a powerful combination. Put together, they form a kind of mental pixie dust that starts to erode your fears, letting you take baby steps toward your best life.

Thanks for reading my musings.

Love & Light XO

 

 

 

Editor & Yoga Teacher: Like Peas & Carrots

813A7911-XL

Photo by Chloe Moore Photography

I’m up for two editor jobs. Two really interesting editor jobs. And both can be done mostly from home. Amazing. I’ve gone through one round of interviews that were both positive. I put it out to the Universe that I’d begin work with a magazine or webzine full time by September if there wasn’t movement on my book getting published. Alimony ends Sept 1st. I have two boys to take care of full-time. And I’m a writer. It’s what I do—and have been doing as a journalist, blogger, editor, most of my life. I used to say that writing was how I communicate best. I’m not completely sure that’s entirely true anymore. It may be how I relay my thoughts, interviews, stories, figure out my viewpoint. But it isn’t a two-way conversation. It isn’t heart-felt, healing connection with others. Not like yoga. Which is why I plan to continue teaching at least 3 classes a week after I start my job. Maybe that sounds nuts to some who are thinking she’s a full-time single mom too! But I can’t imagine my life without these classes right now. Five years ago I would never have believed that I’d be writing this, but maybe I communicate authentically in a healing and very real and present way through my yoga classes.

All I know is that the past two years of teaching has taught me incredible things about myself. My life may even be more stressful on some levels, but I am less stressed, more confident, more grateful, more open to love, new experiences, and much more trusting of what comes. So  those that I help, are actually helping me. I learn so much from my yogi friends about what it truly means to be brave.

I teach therapeutic & restorative yoga and meditation at Torrance Memorial Medical Center. Each class begins with a lot of pranayama so stress can be lowered and energies centered. Then I always ask what’s up. It’s a bit group therapy. Some have fallen. Some have lymphedema flareups. Some have other injuries related to hip or knee replacement surgeries, or the need for them. Others are going through the real pain and severe anxiety of caring for a dying spouse or family member. It manifests in severe headaches, spasms, major muscle cramps in the neck, back, shoulders, gut. I’ve devised flows that include modified yoga poses, balancing postures, T’ai Chi, visualization, acupressure holds, chakra alignment breathing… to help each issue. It’s part yoga, part physical therapy, part group therapy. The cool thing is that I keep learning. For instance, what I’ve learned about what the hamstring, IT band, iliopsoas & rhomboid muscles do to an aging, stressed out individual is just cruel. They work in tandem like rusted rubber band bullies gripping on the hips and back. And those who are swelling due to chemo and radiation from years ago, are still dealing with its feisty unpredictable, lymphedema flares. Finding a way to allow the lymph system to flow just gets me juiced. No pun intended. During one class, I watched the arm of a sweet yogi reduce its swelling size by half after we kept opening up the muscles of the sternum and collarbone and upper arm over and over like we were all doing synchronized swimming circles with deep breaths.

It’s transformative—and mostly for me. I see every week how important deep breathing, meditation, stretching, finding space to re-align body and attitude are. And while that may sound depressing to some—to work with this demographic instead of with the youthful in yoga studios—it is the exact opposite. I couldn’t find more inspiring, uplifting friends on the planet to hang out with 5 hours a week. Honestly. They are like family.

A dear yogi has been in the hospital for 25 days, staying by her husband’s bedside. Her husband had a quadruple bypass-and spine surgery. She finally took her first break and came to my Monday night class. I shared something that a yoga teacher told me in a class earlier that week: that tension is temporary, change is constant,  but bliss is possible. Ananda, bliss: a state we can achieve from deep breathing, stretching, re-aligning heart, body, muscles, soul—trusting the Universe with gratitude—is so attainable, even during stressful times. I received a text from her today saying that she told her husband and the nurses in the ICU, who then posted: “Tension is temporary, Change is constant, but Bliss is possible” on the nurses station wall. Wow, I love the ripple of the positive vibration!

See what I mean? My students teach me about the power of a positive attitude, the courage to take care of oneself, and the ability to reach out to others in a positive community for support. There is nothing like deep Ujjayi breathing for an hour to lower stress, cortisol levels, and boost serotonin release from the gut. Add a lavender oil temple massage during savasana, meditation, and we all leave class feeling blissful, grateful, cared-for, trusting, and just a little be happier than when we walked in. That vibration carries over and lifts others around us. All yoga does this. But for me, my regular hospital yogis, make me feel amazing. I’ve seen such a change in all of them for the past two years. Most had never done yoga before. The seniors clearly aren’t doing handstands or vinyasa power flow. But, like after any restorative class, they walk straighter and with more balance when they leave. They are in better alignment. And they all seem to be dealing with their anxiety so much better. I love the love I feel when I walk into the rooms. It’s hard to describe. I love these people dearly. And every time I quote someone important about why we keep our hearts open, or why we focus on what’s working, or why we can start again with each breath, I’m reminding myself of these things too—usually at exactly the right moment. When we feel good—mind, body and spirit—it’s empowering. Yes brain-washed terrorists may still strike. Yes, a driver may cut you off. Yes, our loved ones die. We can’t control everything in life. But we can breathe deeply. We can force ourselves to stay vulnerable and to break through resistance, breath through our fears, make intentions and do so with loving supportive people who remind us, just by their presence, that there are more kind, considerate, caring people in this world, than there are nasty, vengeful, violent folk.

This is powerful. Positive thoughts are so much more powerful than negative or fearful ones. And they help us to be calmer, more present, caring and in tune with one another.

After I teach,  I go home, relieve the sitter and am a much better mom. And usually, on the nights I teach, I stay uplifted and grateful, even while I’m writing or working late into the night. I feel like the luckiest woman alive. And it all started with the sweet yoga teachers who kept reminding me six years ago to breathe deeply, know it’s all going to be ok, and to relax into and accept the space of NOW.

Have a beautiful day. Ironically, by my next post I may be back in the news full-time as an editor, but I’m advising you, just for a few days, to turn off daily news. Lets not focus on the tragedies we can’t control. Take deep breaths. Light a candle. Say a prayer if that helps you feel more at peace. If you can, put a drop of lavender oil into your hands, rub them, place your fingers on your temples and lightly make circles while thinking: Life is Good. All is Well. I am taken care of. I am So Blessed.

Be well,

Laura, xo

 

 

Dating a Single Mom: What NOT To Do

knocking

So you’ve got your eye on a hot, single mom? Maybe this is new territory for you? Or, perhaps you’ve dated another single mom, so you think you’ve got this down. I’ve got news for you. There is no one-size-fits all model of woman, mother, or single mom for that matter. Just like you don’t want us to make assumptions about you, don’t make assumptions about any of us. I’ve been a full-time single mother for nearly seven years. I have a 7-year-old and a 14-year-old whose father lives abroad. My boys have only met one man in 7 years, as I’m VERY picky about who comes into their lives. I’ve only dated 3 men, all were friends first. With that said, I do go on dates. Over the years, girlfriends have turned to me for advice. The other day, when I was sharing why I broke off a date because he didn’t confirm for Saturday until Friday at 8 p.m.—while also asking me to drive to him—my newly separated girlfriend laughed and said I had high standards. Well, I’ve learned the hard way. If he was someone who thought I was special and cared about how my life works, he would have confirmed earlier, so I could hire a sitter, and then driven to me. (I will likely be spending more money than he will, at $18/hour for a sitter, and shouldn’t be asked to drive 30 minutes each way to see him.)

I’ve learned that saying no to an inconsiderate man, is saying yes to me, and making room for a thoughtful one to come in. My girlfriend made a good point, however. Some men may not be very aware. Even some divorced dads have little idea about the life of a full-time single mom. My Saturday night date that I cancelled, had kids in college, knew I was a single mom, so I assumed he’d be more considerate. But perhaps his ex-wife had done the lion share of parenting? Who knows. And some men, who have never had children, or who share custody of children with an ex nearby, may be good guys, but could benefit from a road map to win the heart of a single mom. Perhaps you are a good guy, who falls in one of the above categories. If so, this is for you.

If you’ve got your eye on a special single mom, DON’T do any of the following:

  • Assume she is desperate and lonely.
  • Always call her the day of—or the night before—to make a date.
  • Assume, since she looks hot in a bikini on the beach, or might have smiled at you while in said bikini, or while working out at the gym, that it’s OK to knock on her door late at night to surprise her with the gift of becoming friends with benefits.
  • Friend her, hang out with her, find out the schedule of when her ex-husband has the kids, and then wait (sometimes months) to ask her out until the day the kids are off with their dad.
  • Ignore her when she has the kids back, and then suddenly appear again when kiddos are gone. This strategy works! She feels how special she is to you.
  • IF she agrees to go out with you for the first time when kids are with their dad, assume she will have sex with you. Go ahead, tell her you love her. Pressure her too.
    (Just don’t be surprised if she gives you a kiss goodbye and waits to see if your ‘love’ lasts until next week, when she has her kids again.)
  • IF you are the lucky man that she actually starts dating on the rare week her kids are with their father, FREAK OUT the following week. Go radio silent and don’t call or text for weeks after the kids return. Assume she’s planning your marriage and father-and-kid nights for you. (Um, NOT Likely.)
  • But maybe you’re ready for those father-and-son nights? Maybe you already know her and her kids, because you were friends first, and you’re ready? Hmmm…Go ahead and Pressure her to let you hang out with the family the week you start dating. She didn’t really mean what she said about not introducing anyone to the kids right away. Right? Not YOU. YOU are different. Therefore, ignore her wishes and show up during the week with pizza and start rough housing with her kids while she’s at the gym or in the shower. How could you hurt her or them, right? Not YOU. What did she say about her ex-husband being a really great guy…until he suddenly wasn’t? She isn’t really scared about starting a relationship. Aren’t all single moms desperate to re-marry? She’ll be fine. Right? (Wrong. Start listening more and stop projecting and assuming.)
  • Disrespect her time with her children. You like her, right? She’s sexy. She’s smart. She’s funny. She must be a strong and caring mother, too. You’re crazy about her. So text her ALL the time. Seriously, who cares if she told you that during the week between 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. she focusses on her kids. You’re more important, right? She’d rather talk with YOU and ignore her kids and not continue with her routine, of, what was it anyway? Oh yeah, dinner, homework, bath, book, bed. Who cares about all of that anyway? After a few dates, YOU and YOUR NEEDS are more important.
  • Ask her to text nude pics to you. Text her during the week between 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. too, so one of her kids might see your note. That’s HOT.
  • Send her a nude pic, or start sexting. This ALWAYS works—especially during dinnertime, during the school week.
  • Get mad when she doesn’t get back to you right away. Who does she think she is?!
  • Become overly needy, pushy and nagging. She should drop everything, put on a short skirt and heels, hire a sitter, at last notice, and RUSH out to service you! F those kids anyway. Right?! That’s the message you need to send her.
    ###


Hopefully, you can’t relate to any of the above. In my humble opinion, there is a huge misconception about dating single moms. The cool thing about dating a strong, independent single mom, is that most of us aren’t clingy. Most of us have our act together. We are focussed on our kids and our careers. We have likely broken away from a destructive or unhealthy relationship and know what we want. We want love, compassion, kindness, a good listener and some FUN. Yes, we like to have fun too—even if we have to plan it ahead of time. If she thinks you are special, she will make time for you. If you ask her to pop out on a Wed. night to go to a concert, that night, and then disrespect her when she can’t go—she isn’t the gal for you. Go date someone 15 years younger without kids…But remember, younger women without children usually WANT to have kids some day. While the independent single mom wants to get to know you slowly without bringing you into the fold of her children—that younger woman may pressure you for more time, marriage and kids before she’s 30. So figure out what you want. And if you want a single mom, tell her why. Why is SHE special? And not because she looks good in a bikini. Tell her what you see in her. She is so busy taking care of her kids, taking care of their needs and raising their self esteem, (and might have an ex who doesn’t appreciate her), that hearing a kind word will make her love for you grow exponentially. Wait for her to let you in. Let it be on her terms. If she lets you in right away, (which I’ve only done once) that doesn’t mean she wants to marry you. She just feels something amazing, instinctually trusts you and sees good in you—and you are a very lucky man. If she needs a few months before introducing you to the kids or before sleeping with you, remember, she’s been hurt. She needs to trust you. If you win her trust and are kind and considerate, she will love you with so much joy and gratitude you will feel like you’ve won the lottery. The independent single mom usually knows what’s important in life: kindness, laughter, compassion, joy. She doesn’t care if you take her to a fancy restaurant. She isn’t demanding. A kind word, a picnic, a back rub and she’s BEYOND happy. She’ll like you for you. She’s very picky. She’s not looking for an exorbitant bank account. She’s looking for something harder to achieve. She’s looking for a good man. She may even inspire you to be a better man.

So, hang in there.  She’s worth it.