I started NavigtingVita after spending part of a summer in Tuscany—my first break in nearly two years from single parenting. My mother, who lived far away, was dying from early-onset Alzheimer’s, and my soon-to-be ex-husband was off in London. I was taking care of our three-year-old and nine-year-old solo, and trying not to fall apart. This was my venture back into blogging, after helping launch and edit for RealGirlsMedia, a San Francisco-based women’s blogging venture. And, being a journalist for so many years, I missed the writing. I interviewed parenting and divorce experts, authors of all kinds, psychologists, single mom business executives. I landed spots on Dr. Drew’s Lifechanger’s Show, as well HuffPost regarding parenting. This site began as a way to navigate through divorce and full time single parenting with a sense of humor, and ideally, with some grace. Ten years later, I am still a full-time single parent of a 10-year-old & a 17-year-old. But it is not how I define myself. I am also a freelance journalist and author of three novels, my 4th on its way. My 600 hours of yoga teacher training has helped me breathe, find peace and acceptance with my life, give up drinking, and keep writing my novels. This is how I see my future: writing, yoga, and travel. I’m excited about my yoga & writers retreat in Tuscany May 2020! (DM me, or go to yogainitaly.com to sign up!) AND, that my novel Between Thoughts of You is being considered for publication by the publishing house of my dreams. 🙂 What I’ve learned, however, is that the journey is really the reward. I love diving into characters, finding strength and wisdom in their adventures and choices, and love the connective awareness I feel when someone else whispers their thoughts into my mind, that finds its way to the pages. I’m never alone when I write. It’s a miraculous feeling. What I know for sure, is that I will keep writing novels, and they will be self-published if the right publishing house doesn’t emerge. It’s what I do. And I want to help other writers find their way past fear to keep on writing too—what breath, meditation, and yoga has helped me to do. It’s a humbling process to keep going, while accepting my own limitations. In order to get better as a writer, I have to keep writing and find the space to do so. With that in mind, next year I am moving to Maui! I have found a boarding school there with a science and math focus to help my brilliant son. I will live close by and see him every day when I’m in town, but will also be able to travel to promote my books when I need to do so. Single parents have to find solutions that work to allow them to focus on, and expand their careers. It’s a delicate balancing act that I’m finally giving myself permission to pursue. I’m excited about this next venture. AND the yoga & writers retreats I’ll be sure to host in Maui! 🙂
SO…with my focus solely on writing and on yoga & writers retreats, I have decided to take back my original byline and maiden name: Laura K Roe. Navigating Vita will disappear in a few weeks time. Please visit LauraKRoe.com to find excerpts of my novels, travel schedule, and yoga & writers retreat and workshop information.
Thank you so much for reading my words and being a part of this miraculous journey.
Did you go into your marriage, pre-children, expecting to have equitable parenting duties with your husband? Did it ever occur to you that your career would be deemed less important, therefore you’d be expected to have more time to shop, clean, care-take? Did you ever imagine that you would have less time off to replenish, while working more than your spouse? If you knew all this going into your marriage, would you feel differently about your husband?
Equitable parenting duties. Equal time off. Mutual respect. In 2018, according to multiple studies, these are still drastically missing within heterosexual couples who have children.
In reality, for most American women, these ideas are mere pipe dreams. It’s just not how our society, and how most fathers, behave. Period. End of story. There is a lot of research to back this up. See the links below for in-depth articles in The Washington Post, Forbes and Time magazines.
Maybe in the top echelons of society among very young couples who live in democratic, liberal University settings, do you see fathers who are doing more and are behaving with more respect. But for the most part, throughout America, at every age and social and economic demographic, this isn’t the case. A woman’s career can be treated like a hobby and not as important as a man’s, by his behavior—forcing a woman to feel battered into doing the lion’s share of parenting, cleaning, care-taking of in-laws, parents and organizing of family activities.
For example, one mom interviewed said her husband “Just doesn’t get up.” She explained that her young husband will remain drinking his coffee at the kitchen table and checking his phone, while his wife, also a full-time working executive, is racing to put together backpacks, get the children dressed, prepare lunches. It puts her at a disadvantage with work as well as loading her down with stress, anxiety and bitterness—resulting in poor health and marital resentments, lack of sex drive and dissipating connection between mom and dad. And the children notice. They see what we do, much more than what we say—and model our behavior. Which is why many experts say the misogyny behind the #metoo movement, has its roots at home where mom is undervalued, taken for granted and disrespected.
According to university research, conclusions ranged from misogyny budding from modeled parent behavior to malignant gender dynamics being passed down generation to generation.
Sadly, recent studies showed the following, reported by Darcy Lockman:
“Among heterosexual parents, fathers — even the youngest and most theoretically progressive among them — do not partake generously of the workload at home. Employed women partnered with employed men carry 65 percent of the family’s child-care responsibilities, a figure that has held steady since the turn of the century. Women with babies enjoy half as much leisure time on weekends as their husbands. Working mothers with preschool-age children are 2 1/2 times as likely to perform middle-of-the-night care as their husbands. And in hours not so easily tallied, mothers remain almost solely in charge of the endless managerial care that comes with raising children: securing babysitters, filling out school forms, sorting through hand-me-downs.”
Ey ey ey people.
I feel strongly that this lack of respect and “unawareness” among fathers who overburden their wives by not stepping up, is the root of divorce. I’ve seen so many moms become severely bitter, insecure and disconnected without hope they can ever achieve their dreams within this family dynamic. This is likely the reason why so many mothers look forward to their alcohol binging nights out with other moms, highlighted in The Bad Moms movies. And it is also why I, as a full time single mother for the past nine years, feel extremely lucky. At least as a sole parent, I don’t have ANY expectations that a partner will be, or should be, doing ANYTHING for me and my boys within the household on a daily basis. No one will be prepping for schools, buying foods, cooking dinners, planning sports and summer camps, going to parents nights or performances, yard work, etc. It’s just me. Surprisingly, I find peace and liberation with this as I have lost all my bitterness from needing that from someone. I am also never, ever going to live with someone who may be critical of my appearance, or my house’s appearance, my cooking (or lack thereof), or parenting abilities—while also pouting about my lack of sexual desire at the end of the night. I’m tired. Yet, I’m following my dreams again and writing novels and teaching yoga and my boys know that mommy needs help at home and that her dreams are just as important as their own.
When I was married, my older son was learning something different. He was learning that mommy’s dreams don’t count, because they don’t pay as well as daddy’s, and that she needs to do the lion share of parenting and cleaning and deserves less time off than daddy. And I’m to blame for allowing this dynamic. I used to think my ex taking our son to the park on a Saturday afternoon, after he had been gone all week and I had spent late-nights catching up on work, meant that I had an hour to clean the house and race to the grocery store. It didn’t occur to me to get a massage and let him help me do the other stuff later. Yet I was working full time as a magazine editor and taking care of our son solo and staying up late managing deadlines. Where did I get this misconception that I had to work, work, work and never rest? From my parent dynamic of a working full – time mother who did all the parenting. It really does get passed down generation to generation and women (especially those raised in the South) are taught to believe that they are just more compassionate, better organized, better at cooking, more patient and therefore, better at parenting, so it’s easier for us. I can’t tell you how many times I heard friends prepare weeks of food for their husbands before leaving for a work trip because their husbands “just can’t open a can of soup.”
This has to stop. Having a penis doesn’t mean a man can’t cook, tuck a child into bed, read bedtime stories, grocery shop, plan birthday parties, volunteer at schools, design holiday cards, and help with in-law care-taking. None of these activities are exclusively made for humans with vaginas. But I understand why women just do the extra work when they fear that it just won’t get done otherwise.
It took divorce and becoming a full-time single mother for me to realize that I allowed this toxic, old-fashioned inequitable dynamic to exist by not demanding my ex do more. If I had boycotted the home situation, protested, left for an extended amount of time while leaving our child at home, perhaps my ex would have seen what was going on. Or likely, he would have hired a full-time nanny and not fretted about the cost.
I predict there will be a shift in the American family (heterosexual) dynamic within the next 50 years where women just opt out. We’re tired. And we’re worthy of time off and help. It’s time for us to raise our hands, lift our white flags and say ENOUGH. Doing it all and being everything to everyone, enables a toxic old-fashioned view of parenting, and is just not worth ruining our health and forgetting our dreams for.
If this has riled you up, sadly, here are more articles and studies regarding the lack of gender equality in American households and society:
Last night I had a gold thread dream. It’s this lucid dream that sometimes happens with me. I let it. I’m aware, yet the gold thread keeps creating a scene for me. I am not in control and I can ask questions as it keeps moving, sending me a message. Bare with me. I’m not on drugs or was drunk! 🙂 So, this enormous maze or labyrinth was being formed. As it was being formed, it was like I was in it. Then we rose high above it, reminding me of the labyrinths I saw in Peru, except this one was much larger. I could see the formation that was intricate. I could also see a bus or large image enter it. This image just kept moving and trying to navigate its way through. We were watching, like spirit guides, hoping for the best.
The night before I had dreamed of a friend who just stopped, he decided to check out. Literally, a cash register drawer opened and closed shut as he faded away. He was going to talk with me, then walked away, like walking away from life. I woke up at 4 a.m. frightened for him.
In the labyrinth dream last night, I realized that this symbol was for all of us. It is the quintessential image for life. How we all must navigate our way through dark times to the light and how these times will continue to fluctuate. It’s our ability to keep going, to keep taking baby steps forward—even when we are lost or alone or without any encouragement or faith—that matters in the end. Who musters up the courage to keep going? Who asks for help or reaches out? Who sinks into despair or hides under a mask of false pretenses in fear of letting others know they are struggling too, until their ‘hidden’ struggles manifests in addiction or illness or some other outlet to fill the gaping hole? I know, I’ve been there.
As the gold thread dream started to move, I began to wonder if the person, or persons, in the maze or intricate labyrinth would get stuck? Like Harry Potter’s maze, once inside the high dark hedgerows, without the perspective above to see how it would end, would the person just sink in despair? Taking baby steps forward with blind faith and no real indication that I’m on the right path, is hard for me. Mostly on weekends, after a long work week and without breaks from kiddos, I can sink a bit. Even with the tools that I’ve found, such as mediation and yoga, just the months on with the kiddos and long work demands can leave me drained and a bit blue. Loneliness can sink in on weekends too, even when I’m enjoying hanging with the kids. I admit that I miss the husband best friend thing, of hanging out after the boys go to bed. I don’t miss the ex, just the feeling of having that best friend to chat with. But if I focus on what I don’t have, I tend to lose grip of what I DO have. And I know that. That’s when I have to be ever mindful to just rise out of my little maze of looping thoughts to garner perspective. To realize that my situation won’t last forever. That I’ll find the me-time again, that I’ll find the time to finish my book, that I’m just in a hectic full-time solo parenting and working period in my life with little time for a social life. But it won’t last forever. And I do have beautiful yogis and friends at work who I adore. I am lucky that where I work and what I do is so enjoyable and fills me with purpose. So I mentally need to take a break through 10 to 15 minutes of mediation daily in order to rise up above the dark corridors of my daily looping thoughts or dark lonely moments, to garner perspective.
Once I have perspective, I can then re-engage and start taking those baby-steps to navigate my way through those pathways again. The lucid dream, like the native indian myth of the hopi man in the maze, was a reminder to me that life is meant to be a challenge. All lives have turbulence. Most people experience sorrow, loss, disappointment, frustrations, and sometimes senseless violence. It’s hard to just keep going in dark times. Isn’t it easier to just sink and say ‘I give up,” get cynical and start thinking ‘what’s the point?’ or ‘why bother?’ But that’s exactly what I have to fight against and picture a positive end result, like a professional athlete visualizes the win. Maybe my end result is just big picture items, like more joy, more love, more time to write, more time to travel…so I just keep going, visualizing that they all start flowing in and getting on my path. And when I’m back in that faithful zone, synchronicity begins: I meet that new friend who is on the same path as me, or that creative opportunity opens up, or that person who supports my vision gives me support that lifts my mood for weeks. It happens and is happening. I remind myself of these amazing synchronicities when I feel blue.
Keep the faith people. (I say this to myself too.) And to my friend, you know who you are, what did Khalil Gibran say? “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.” I’m here for you.
I received this notice today that seven years ago I registered this blog on WordPress. SEVEN years. Wow. How much have I learned since that day? How much more do I still have to learn, might be the better question, lol! Seven years ago, January 2010. Wow, what a mess. I was the epitome of the southern mantra: ‘fake it till you make it.’ I was sleep-walking through life with an often-sick baby and an 8 year old solo. My husband and I separated October of 2009, but honestly, he had been flying back and forth to Europe since our baby was 5 months old and gone 2 weeks a month anyway. He had been gone long before his physical, permanent presence. I was just catching up to that fact. And, I was trying as hard as I could to not fall apart or fall into despair and bitterness. I found out in October of 2009 he had a double life and a girlfriend in Europe who had been traveling with him to exotic locales across the globe while I was at home with a colicky baby and another son to raise. Enter months of therapy and going back and forth between trying to stay married and rediscovering he still had this girlfriend when he was away—I landed smack into the realization that I was a door mat and just kept clicking a rewind button that propelled me into yet another betrayal heartbreak moment. After three of those events that landed me at 90 pounds and barely functional, our therapist demanded that my ex finally stop swinging between two women and ‘killing’ me. So he left Dec. 26, 2009, after a pretend family Christmas with a lot of phone calls from the girlfriend. Because I’ve been a journalist since I was 18, and writing has always helped me find clarity, I started this blog. But I didn’t actually post a public post until much later. My first post was when my youngest was 2, so I had been a FT single mom for over a year with maybe three weeks off. The post wasn’t very personal, as perhaps I was afraid to BE personal during the middle of a divorce, but it was accurate. It was about mental fatigue and inspired by a New York Times article. I re-read it today and it’s still very current for me. Here it is: BrainDrain.
Seven years later, I still have many moments of brain drain. I needed to re-read the advice list in this old post, as I still do not follow all of it. Brain drain is very real for single parents, as it stems from making too many decisions. Do any of you feel it? I notice that being the sole care-taker and the sole-decision maker for two humans without a break, is exhausting. EVEN when I teach yoga and do yoga. EVEN when I get a good night’s sleep. Things slip. EVEN when I input as many items into my calendar as possible, emergencies pop up and I’m the only one to handle them. (sickness, someone forgetting their lunch, a game getting cancelled, so I have to leave work early to pick up…)
And don’t get me started on dating. The woman who has her kids full time is treated very differently by men. EVEN by the men who fall in love. Yes, even them. They run away or try to completely control me and change me or my parenting style. (Example of disrespecting family time with the boys, by calling during dinner, or before bedtime and trying to get me to leave them home alone, yet again, to come over at the last minute.) Some are just not for me, they party too much, drink too much and are not good for my boys, so I don’t go out with them. And some don’t want the ‘responsibility’ that dating someone like me seems to imply, so they try to get me open to booty calls, friends with benefits kind of deal so there’s no obligation or need to truly try to connect. I walk away. Or they don’t want to compete for my limited amount of time, as the ones I’ve known want me, and only me, and nothing to do with the children. It’s exhausting. I’ve finally stopped trying. I’ve stopped dating altogether. I’m focussed on my yoga, writing my next book and my boys. My boys have only met one man in seven years and that was after we were very serious. My boys come first. They are not a liability. They are the best people I know and I adore them. They have probably saved me from disastrous men. Anyone who would be a bad influence on them, is a no bueno for me. So, dating is easier and harder post divorce. It’s easier because the boys come first and I can quickly see who isn’t a good fit. It gets harder because I just don’t have the time or resources to hire sitters and go out on many blind dates. I’m opting out for now. And that’s okay.
So when a friend, who has only been separated one year, asked me this question a few weeks ago: “When does it get easier?” I didn’t know how to respond. Here’s my attempt:
It gets easier and it gets harder.
It gets easier when the love you had for your ex mutates into a distant brotherly kind of love created out of forgiveness and a willingness to move forward with friendship and gratitude for what is working in whatever type of co-parenting role that evolves.
It gets easier when you start to get to know yourself better and start to explore exactly what interests you. (This is especially true for those givers who try and try to be what their partner wants for years.) So now I unapologetically follow my heart: my yoga, meditation classes, my writing, my photography, my love for music and traveling the way I want to with no need to justify why I’m just not the party girl who loves Vegas, you know? I’m the gal who went to Peru & Spain & Italy & Prague solo. I hiked. I went to ballets, I went to museums, I toured, I lived on a rooftop for a week. I camped. I wrote. I did yoga. That’s more my speed.
It gets easier when you learn to respect yourself and your needs. But this is where it can get harder for the full-time, sole custody parents too. Once you realize your needs, your wants, trying to find acceptance in not getting them met on a weekly basis, is a challenge. With only 4 weeks off a year, every weekend I can fall into a pity-party if I don’t do something for myself. So, I find strategies to give back to me, like hiring a sitter so I can veg and write or go for a run, or get a drink with a friend…I also plan vacations for the few weeks off I get each year. Even if I decide to take them solo, I always meet amazing people on tours and I’m blessed to do exactly what it is I want to do and explore on holiday.
It gets easier when you begin to trust your inner voice, your inner guide, your abilities. I now know that I can juggle parenting, finances, dinners & my work & vacation planning & all that life throws at me while raising two kiddos solo. It’s not easy, but when married, I doubted just about all of my abilities. Now I have more confidence.
It’s gets easier because I’m too busy to engage in drama. I just don’t have time or interest in anything that doesn’t lift another person up. It’s that simple. Anyone who is rude to a waiter, yells at or about another human being, lies, cheats, constantly points out the negative in others, gets hysterical and rants, abuses substances, etc. is just not what I want to engage into my life. Of course, drama happens, even within our closest circles, so I try to be kind to myself when it happens, detach, pause, reflect first before responding and then connect to Source for guidance in what I need.
It gets easier because I now value my time more and have learned to set boundaries. Givers attract takers. It’s a universal law. So all the requests of my time, when I’m already drained, are no longer a struggle for me. I only have so much to give. If I don’t give to myself, I’m not valuing myself. I no longer feel the need to give or be there for everyone who calls hysterically or ‘needs’ me instantly. I have to take care of myself, and I still don’t always do it. I’m a work in progress. I work too hard. I do too much. I don’t always remember to eat or take my vitamins, for instance. I have no business trying to help everyone else if the oxygen mask isn’t on me first. So, I’ve learned a lot about how I used to be too giving. Too forgiving. Too easily swayed to volunteer or give more of my time than was good for my health. I’m trying to strike a balance now.
So I’ll end with this final thought for my friend venturing into divorce. Having the rug pulled out from under you with a sudden separation or betrayal may land you on your ass, that’s for sure, but it’s a position with nothing left to lose. You can only look up from there, right? Why not write that novel? Why bother with someone negative or controlling? Why not hike Machu Picchu? It’s also a spot where it becomes easier to let go of expectations and to challenge yourself to become a better you: more mindful, more present, more patient, more joyful, more playful, ever-evolving. And that’s something to celebrate.
As always, thanks for reading my meandering prose.
(Dedicated to my friends on the verge of divorce.)
What if, just for today, I loved you for exactly who you are?
What if, just for today, I decided that my joy was my own to create, and not connected to you at all. Today, my joy does not depend on your mood, your smile, your behavior, or you doing the dishes, or any other chore for me. Just for today, my joy, my bliss, is independent of you.
What if, just for today, I decided my job wasn’t to fix you, control you, or try to get you to be more like me.
What if, just for today, I asked for help, but without any conditions or any criticism.
What if, just for today, I decided to give myself to you, with such reckless abandon, that it leaves you breathless and without a clue as to what you did to deserve it.
What if, just for today, I decided that you didn’t need to ‘do’ anything, or ‘be’ a certain way, to deserve some reckless, playful love.
What if, just for today, I remember what drew me to you, what I adore about you, and I tell you what I still see, what I still respect, and what still drives me crazy about you.
What if, just for today, I don’t interrupt you, correct you, or keep record of any past wrongs.
What if, just for today, I let myself be vulnerable and raw? Instead of getting mad, shutting down, turning away or stomping off, I will pause, breathe and say: “I need you. Hold me. I’m sorry. I love you.”
Today, I will not fight with you.
Today, I will focus on being a better me and let you figure out your own journey.
Today, I will respect you enough to make your own choices.
Today, I will love you without worrying about tomorrow, or what ifs.
Today I will breathe deeply and be present.
Today I will be patient.
Today I will listen to my heart and quiet my mind so that I do not feel the need to ‘do’ anything, or react, or panic.
Today I will be grateful for you, for this journey, and for all that we have created: the good, the bad, the frustrating, the joyful, because it is teaching me something valuable.
Today I will try to realize that I chose you, I chose this journey, this lesson, this experience so that I can grow. You loved me so much that you let us have this, have all of this.
Today, I will hug you because no matter what, we are blessed.
Everything you seek is within. This is what the world’s wisdom seekers say. And it’s true. But that may be hard for you to feel where you are right now. Most of us seek ‘things’ from others. We have been given messages from a very early age that imply someone will save us, complete us, rescue us. The prince on a white horse is you. The angel to save you from your reckless ways and addictions is you.
YOU are the PATH.
To some, that feels like a lonely journey. I understand. This message does not suggest that you live as a hermit meditating your days away by yourself in a remote mountain village. A journey to wholeness does not require such sacrifice. But in order to attract unconditional love, acceptance, compassion, support, forgiveness from others— you must first give it to YOURSELF. As Deepak Chopra says, “You can not receive what you do not give yourself.”
If you look to others to complete you, to fill an empty void, you ultimately become frustrated, disappointed and filled with ego-centric self loathing and victimhood. When we seek external approval, success, money, or another person who may ‘fit’ a long laundry list of what we think we want, we become lost and disconnected to what really matters in life and to our true self.
Ask a cancer patient what is important in life. Another healthy and playful moment with their child? Another hour snuggling in bed with their lover? Feeling sun on her face while sipping tea in a favorite chair with a beloved pet in her lap. Walking with a good friend out in nature. These moments are what fill us up. We connect with our highest self in these times. And we connect on a deeper level with those we love, because we are reflecting our highest selves. We are connecting in a pure, authentic, vulnerable manner.
So we must peel back the layers, the fears, the wounds that keep us from living purely and authentically. Create a loving relationship with yourself first, then you will find your PATH, find your TRIBE and begin connections on deep levels.
One reason people have a hard time keeping connections with others is due to a fear of vulnerability. We fear being judged. We fear being abandoned and hurt because we have been abandoned or hurt in the past. But the reality is that in order to truly love and be intimate with others, we must be free from the chains of fear. We must love ourselves so fiercely that no one can truly keep us from our center again. Then we know that we will always be safe whether alone or with another. From a fierce, rebel heart, we can connect on a pure level.
So how do we get there? It’s a journey. A journey through meditation, yoga, breath, writing, activity of any sort: running, dancing. For me, meditating has been remarkable. I find stillness and meditate, whether guided with DavidJi or Deepak, or on my own. I feel silence and sit with my feelings and begin to repeat over and over a silent mantra to connect with my light. My favorite is: I AM. SO HUM in Sanskrit. I repeat this over and over and like a whisper from the Universe, whatever follows I AM, I know I already am, but just need a reminder of: I AM LOVE. I AM LIGHT. I AM POWERFUL. I AM ENOUGH…I set my timer to 11 minutes. When I come out of it, I feel connected to all that is and deeply to my eternal light.
Find forgiveness for yourself. Feel what needs to be felt. You are eternal, divine and worthy of love just for being alive. You need not do anything but allow the light in.
Those who have been abused or neglected must feel the wounds to heal them. I know this from personal experience. Find a community, a tribe, a counselor, a support group and begin the journey back home to yourself.
Peace, love, non-violence, acceptance begins with you. You are the PATH. You are a REBEL. You are a Goddess. Nothing that has been done to you—nothing that you have done to cope with your past—defines you. The spark of divine light shines brightly within. Peel back the layers that cover it and shine.
WOOHOO!! I received word a few weeks ago that I reached a milestone of 100 followers…I believe it’s 104 today. Isn’t that amazing? I’m so grateful to all of you who read my musings and who are on this journey with me as I evolve into a more conscious human being and navigate this world of mine as a single mom, yoga teacher, writer and budding novelist. Phew! That’s a lot isn’t it? Geez. And that doesn’t even touch my day to day life juggling needs as a FT mom and being single: striving to stay positive, focussed, motivated and find time to eek in a little fun, love, travel, adventure. You know, what we all seek—the spice in our rice, the music that makes us want to dance, or the moment our heart races when we recognize a person as a dear friend or potential ‘one’ that makes life so much more than just life. You know?
So, thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of you—new and old followers—of NavigatingVita. Since I started this blog August 26, 2011 a lot has changed in my life. My divorce became official. I broke up with a man that I thought I might marry. (The first man I had kissed in 15 years since my husband, so maybe I needed more experience dating too…) I joined a support group. I began and finished 4 yoga trainings. I now teach yoga. I wrote a novel. Yup, after taking a 15 year hiatus from creative writing after I completed my first novel in grad school, well, I jumped back in. I wrote a novel that was inspired by a true story uncovered when I was a newspaper reporter in the North Carolina mountains, moons ago. And, I started writing another novel. (See excerpt here.) I’ve travelled a lot: England, Italy (3 x), Spain, Czech, Hawaii (3x) Costa Rica, Peru, Mexico…And stumbled upon some cool experiences, such as being on the Queen Latifah show as a Contestant # 3 for her Dating Game Show. A well-intentioned neighbor, who happened to be a producer for her, decided I needed help finding a date since I rarely get out except to take or do yoga. It was a hilarious experience! And even with the help of Queen Latifah, her bachelor chose the grandmother out of the three contestants because she was the one who talked dirty and promised sex on the first date. (Men, is that all that it takes? Maybe for another blog post, but seriously?! My kids were watching too, could NOT go there. Hmmm.) Here I am last Feb. embarrassed after Queen Latifah tried to insinuate that I was a southern good girl, but not that good. Go figure. Still didn’t get the date! Probably a good thing. 🙂
So, what can I say? Life is good. Life is challenging. Life can be upsetting and then suddenly delicious. It can become overwhelming and tedious and boring and then suddenly beautiful without words sufficient to express that beauty or the enormous amount of gratitude felt. Throughout it all: throughout the disappointments of agents not accepting my work, and then the high of one who does— or the boy who breaks my heart so completely that I can barely function … And of course my boys who are my anchor and mean everything to me. Throughout it all, I write as a means to seek, to find my center, to garner a balance, catch my breath and to embrace compassion, patience and forgiveness. And…still find time to dance and travel—at least once a year! This is what motivates all my blog posts in one way or another. Even if indirectly as I am somewhat private. If I write about how to discover your worth and uncover hidden, sabotaging beliefs, trust me, it’s because I need to write about that topic due to poor or impulsive choices. If I write about how yoga enhances creativity and helps bash self-doubt, it’s likely because I’m teaching too much, not practicing daily yoga and therefore, finding it hard to carve out time every day to feel entitled to write that novel. Who do I think I am, right? So, I often write about what I need to learn. It’s the same when I teach yoga as each week there is a theme to my classes: forgiveness, acceptance, surrender, strength, combating anger, staying open, trust, faith, etc. You get the idea. I teach and write about what I need to learn. And if any of this has resonated with you, I’m truly honored.
Thank you for being on this journey with me.
I’m sending so much love & light & laughter to you all. Life is a trip—and one only worth navigating with dear friends. Thank you for the support.
Taking baby steps onto my path, my journey to open up a future living my dreams, can be scary. But what I’ve been learning over the past two and a half years especially, is that as I move forward into my truth to live an authentic life that reflects my soul’s purpose, I meet people on the way who instantly feel like family. It’s a beautiful thing. As a single mom of two, it would be very easy for me to just continue with a traditional job and ensure that I have a safe life. But three years ago, after recovering from my divorce, I still felt as if my soul was sinking, getting buried into a life that wasn’t my own. I wasn’t myself. I longed to trust myself and not continue to do the right thing or be who others might want me to be. I took an intensive yoga teacher training and reconnected to my inner voice. That voice can get drowned out by the needs of children and the expectations of others. I connected with soulful, supportive friends, like my yoga teacher and was able to find the courage to explore my heart’s desire. Just before that training began in September 2013, I had started writing creatively again. I’ve been a journalist and editor since I was 19 years old…but I stopped writing creatively after my first son was born. I wrote a book in graduate school, then met my husband soon after. And I began living for my son and for my husband— trying to ‘be’ what was expected of me to be the best mom I could, while also bringing in income for the family. The divorce woke me up. It didn’t feel good, but now I see that it was necessary. I had lost my way. My inner voice was silent. I was listening to other’s limited beliefs about who I was or what I could accomplish or the kind of life I should be living.
The past two and a half years have been amazing. Two more intensive yoga trainings later, and after creating a supportive writer’s group with friends who also feel like family, I finished my novel Uriel’s Mask and am half way through my next novel Between Thoughts of You! It’s funny how life works. For me, once I began to take baby steps into my authentic life and really trust the Universe, I began meeting others on similar soul-searching journeys. It’s beautiful. I love the synchronicity. It’s like the Universe saying: “See? I told you you aren’t alone and it’s more fabulous when you step outside of your comfort zone and into your purpose, isn’t it?!”
This week, Tory, of the GingertAle blog sent me a long note that made me cry. She said that my posts felt like words from a guardian angel as she’s now a single mom of a three-year-old and trying to launch a new career. She said she just needed the inspiration to keep on her journey, to not cave to other’s limited viewpoints on what she could accomplish. She sent me this post: “Live Deep and Suck the Marrow Out of Life”. Read it. It’s beautiful. As she takes baby steps into her dreams, while also striving for balance to take the best care she can of her daughter, she’ll discover friends along the way, like angels, to inspire and support her. I know I have. 🙂 I’m so grateful for them, too.
For instance, last summer I met another writer, Ann Marie Frohoff , who has written three novels and is working on a documentary and another non-fiction project while also a dedicated mom. She lives in my home town! I met her randomly when on a date to a concert. The date and I decided we are better off friends, but I met Ann through one of his friends. I love when these things happen. Just knowing she’s out there writing every day, has been a huge inspiration to me.
Also last summer, while the boys were with their Dad in London & France, I decided to go to Barcelona, (my ex flew me to London with the boys, so it was a short, inexpensive flight!). I found a roof-top apartment via airbnb that allowed me to have panoramic views of the city and water and even sleep under the stars! Had I listened to anyone who lamented that it isn’t safe for women to travel solo, I wouldn’t have had such an amazing journey. I did yoga every morning, wrote, explored the city. It was hard sometimes being alone, but I was able to take the art tours I wanted and to go up to the mountains of Montserrat. On one museum tour, I met a beautiful soul, who is now one of my best friends. She’s from San Francisco and was traveling solo after a break up. We couldn’t stop chatting and ended up going out to eat, to the beach, on a sailing cruise and then to a support group she had found. She’s coming to visit me this August. We chat quite a lot supporting each other as she is also starting a new career and on a similar spiritual path. Definitely a soul sister.
I’ve been an avid TUT.com fan since the Notes from the Universe first began. Mike Dooley’s notes resonate with me, especially after I had an apprenticeship with a medium and life coach in 2012. So, at the last minute, I decided that I’d take the risk and go to the TUT Peru trip last March. It was a trip that was a little out of my budget, I didn’t know anyone there, but I felt compelled to go. I’m so glad I did! On that trip I met so many soulful and fun friends. Two are visiting me this August as well, while the boys are with their dad. One is also a yoga teacher and the other is originally from the South and very creative. We just ‘get’ each other.
I’m so grateful for all those on my journey. Some have read chapters of my novels and given me support and guidance that is priceless. I’m not one used to anyone giving to me. I like to give to others, it’s who I am. But I’m realizing that by allowing others on my journey to give to me, I can give back in numerous ways, and hopefully inspire them as well. We all need a little support to confirm we are on the right path, or that all will be OK. It’s scary to climb out on a limb reaching for a dream. But what I’m learning, is that it’s also so very rewarding. The journey means I’m alive. I’m excited. I following my truth and doing exactly what I love, every damn day. I’m writing. I’m teaching or doing yoga. I’m living with the two most important spiritual teachers in my life, my two boys. Sure, I’d love for my books to get published by a mainstream publisher, or the love of my life to finally find me …but you know what? Where I am right now, is so sweet. I’m beyond grateful for this beautiful life and the soulful friends I’m making on this journey.
If you are taking the first few baby steps onto your journey, consider me a friend along the way. If you’re following your heart, your intuition, your purpose—what lights up your soul—you’re on the right path. And you just might discover that the journey is as magical and the destination. 🙂 I know that’s how I feel.
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.
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.
AloneTogether: Single Moms Support Group (This is a closed group, please say you found their site from me, Laura Roe Stevens, when requesting to join.)
The UCLA Family Commons: http://www.uclacommons.com/
Single Parent Housing: www.SPAOA.org
Pell Grants For Mothers: PellGrants.ClassesAndCareers.com