Category Archives: Single Mom

Navigating the world of single motherhood! Parenting a nine-year-old and a two-year-old can be tricky, especially when doing it alone. There’s also my career and entering the dating world to explore!

Offline a Month, and Life’s Good

September 24, 2017 marked a full month without ANY social media. Not even one peak. Not one news feed scroll. Not one ‘like’ for a picture marking an event or moment in my life. Not one announcement made to a wide group of ‘friends’. Yesterday, however, I had a moment that felt very odd. A beautiful model who was taking hot yoga with me, after class, posed half-naked for a selfie in front of our mirrors.

(Here’s a fun article in HuffingtonPost: The Phenomenon of the Selfie and Look at Me Duck Face.)

The woman, who had her camera aimed high so she could have her entire wet body beside our mirrors in the picture, giggled and said ‘bear with me, I have to do a social media photo bomb.’ I literally stepped away and out of the camera’s view laughing nervously. I suddenly didn’t like the fact that there’d be thousands (she is a model) of her ‘friends’ in our yoga class and possibly seeing me sweaty and tired. Yoga isn’t about sex. It was a knee jerk reaction of mine to get as far away from her as possible. See, I had forgotten about ever wanting to invite in hundreds of strangers into my day to approve of me or ‘like’ a post-workout sweaty body. Was I ever like that? Probably. And that worries me. Of course, her pic will probably garner attention for our studio. Maybe. Will any of her ‘friends’— likely men, lets face it, she’s gorgeous and posed half naked and wet—come into the studio or take one of my classes? Not likely. No harm was done though. It’s just funny how I reacted. A month earlier I would have likely friended her and ‘liked’ her picture saying “great workout!” or something to that effect. Yesterday, after a month off, I just wanted OUT of the picture and didn’t feel comfortable having strangers injected into that moment which for many was about pushing themselves into a positive mindset and healing. Yes we wear little clothing in a hot class, but that’s because of the heat. What a shift in my thinking! I’ve become much more private. That’s clear. I’ve become more selective about who I share information with and who I share myself with. That’s the biggest shift. I care more about the vibration of a person I encounter face to face and whether that person makes me feel at ease or makes me smile, or is kind and having a bad day. When I feel that natural attraction to someone like-minded, I make a point of speaking more or reaching out more, or doing something to lift their day. I’ve become better friends with certain yogis at my studio, for instance who are going through challenges and are facing them with courage and laughter. We have long chats. We’ve known each other for nearly a year, but now I’m even more mindful and pay attention to their lives and we share a lot with each other. These relationships mean more to me and I don’t really want to invite strangers into our moments, as silly as that sounds.

As for my 15-year-old son, who is also off social media now, he’s had moments where he said he felt isolated from friends—you know, no more snap chat or Instagram. But we’ve also had heart-to-heart conversations about what he doesn’t like or miss on social media. Like the fake accounts where kids post pics of drunk hookups or drunken or pot-filled moments. And before he quit social media, he witnessed some bullying by a popular kid calling a girl names, making fun of her appearance and it bothered him. I love my son. He’s an old soul and he knows what he likes and what he doesn’t like. So this offline month he stared an ebay business, opened up a checking account and also created a website that is really gorgeous. He’s also learning about investing, so all the money he makes, he can invest. At school, he’s made a point to sometimes sit with, or walk with, an autistic kid who gets shunned. He knows he’s popular and his kindness might inspire others to be nice to the kid too. I’m really proud of him.

So what have I been doing this month? A little of the same: writing, yoga classes, juggling the demands of my boys. But I’m not on social media listening to hundreds of voices and feeling like I need to get involved in the chatter or be seen. I’ve had heart-felt conversations with yoga students, started a cleanse with one, and have heard from a few old friends. I’ve had a Saturday night date with my youngest, walking on the pier, going out to eat and not once did I scroll my feed or snap a picture for my ‘friends’ to like. It was just the two of us and I even forced myself to pay attention to his Star Wars and MineCraft rants. 🙂

Now that I’ve detoxed and no longer miss my social media addiction, this next month ‘should’ be even more productive. I’m hoping! I have big plans. I’m editing Between Thoughts of You, my next novel, and am teaching even more yoga classes and will be going to Vegas with my boys for a huge soccer tournament, visiting my sister who now lives in CALIFORNIA! and will be throwing a party for my youngest who is turning NINE on the 24th. It’s hard to believe. Life is still as busy and as challenging as ever, but it’s more mindful. It’s more peaceful too. When I tune out all of the noise, I can tune into my own voice, my own heart, and listen more carefully to the voices that mean the most to me: my family, my closest friends. I play more music too, that’s been fun. I’m still not cooking however! I hate all the cleanup late at night, but we do sit down at the table and chat over my awesome salads and Trader Joes meals. lol

Life is Good offline.

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Offline Worldview

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So it’s been nearly 3 weeks since my oldest son and I turned off all social media.

Here’s my update:

The first week, I missed it. I might have said that I felt more mindful, but I had those moments when I wanted to check my feed. You know, the times waiting in the school line, or half time at soccer games, etc.  I didn’t check, not once. But I had the urge. I wondered if my exotic-traveling friends had posted amazing pictures that would convince me to plan my next trip. I wanted to see those gorgeous yoga poses and read those preachy, yet spiritually-in-tune quotes from my yogi friends that are meant to uplift and garner more students at the same time. I also liked seeing those pics from my friends who are in love. I’d chuckle from my worn-out, over-worked mom friends who’d go all out and post party, happy-hour rants. You get the idea. I had gotten into the habit of listening and watching all these lives unfold (or how they’d like me to see them unfold.) Sometimes I even felt like I was being a bad friend, as I was so out of the loop. I couldn’t see those rants or requests for prayers for a sick relative or get a birthday reminder. I also worried that I needed to post about my new and expanding yoga class schedule or post pics of my kiddos for relatives to see.

But by the second week I felt free. So did my 15-year-old. We both weren’t seeing those pictures from old friends who had parties that didn’t include us. Who needs that? We didn’t have reminders of what isn’t cool about us. My 15-year-old is not drinking or partying yet, a lot of his friends are. He wants a scholarship, straight As, soccer prowess. I am a single mom who is now teaching 6 a.m. weekly hot classes and weekend classes and helping to manage a yoga studio, while also writing and schlepping to schools, practices, back-to school nights, doctor appointments, etc. I am in good shape, but I am not glamorous. My ex lives in Europe, so no weekends off, or help for me. Seeing the posts from other single mom friends who get weekends free, used to sort of haunt me. I adore my kiddos. But seeing what others are doing, made me question my future and my present and took away a tiny breath of strength and core confidence. I know that I’m strong and happy with my life, exactly as it is, even if it may be challenging.

It also dawned on me, as I was writing my final chapter of Between Thoughts of You, my next book, that I have way too many voices in my head. Maybe not voices, but points of view. And mixed in with that, I had this little push of myself with each point of view. Maybe that sounds confusing. Basically, social media created this need for my opinion to be heard or for my life to be seen and approved of at all times. If a ‘friend’ posted something sad, I felt the need to respond with an appropriate emoji or a comment if it was a real friend. And then if I was at an event, I’d post a picture and within hours would be curious about who approved or ‘liked’ it. It became important what other people thought about what I had just experienced. I imagine that what other people think can become even more important for teens who are establishing themselves or finding their way. The other part of the mix is this altered reality that had become a part of my daily life. People who would never invite me to parties or for tea, or who I barely know, had become a part of my daily world. Seeing what they were doing, feeling, or were with, had become a part of  my life, say, while I was in the car waiting for my eight-year-old at school. When he’d pop in, I might be distracted about something political or racist that was said, instead of focussing on that sweet and pure voice in the back seat. The obvious take away: taking time to keep up with people who aren’t really in my life, is taking precious focus and energy away from my family: my two boys.

Besides, it takes up a lot of energy too. Maybe their lives seem more glamorous, more successful, more sexy, more free, etc. Do I need all that competition or worry? My life is exactly as it is supposed to be right now.

So, the first week I was off social media I was writing a scene (for my novel) with Lulua`ina [loo loo (w)ah’ ee nah] aka Lulu, and it hit me that I made her do something that I would do. It was completely out of her character, but totally in mine. I stopped and thought about it. I think it stemmed from a need, or a habit of putting myself out there on social media, to be seen and to be approved of. Without that outlet, I was pushing myself upon this character. Lulu would never contemplate falling for a certain man who wasn’t spiritual, wasn’t over his ex, drank too much, and came from a family that valued money and power at any expense. She came from a strong Hawaiian spiritual family who respected the Earth, their ancestors, karma, giving back and living honestly and humbly. Once she saw this person’s background, just because he wanted to change and loved her, she wouldn’t be conflicted about staying friends. She is strong, has supportive roots and knows exactly who she is, even in a crisis. So even though she is young and lonely, she has a core strength beyond her years, based on tight family support and spiritual beliefs. I never had support growing up and my spiritual strength and confidence came later in life. When younger, I would doubt myself and listen to friends and be swayed, betraying my intuitive voice. I put myself in her shoes at her young age and betrayed her character. 

So, I changed the scene. She regretted kissing him and vowed not to ever again. Period. The talk ended in her mind. No conflict. No need to call her Nan and discuss. She knew what she needed. Lulu needs a strong person with a strong sense of character and spiritual awareness to match her own. In the end, the conflict will be about her husband and childhood best friend.

Does this have anything to do with social media? Yes, I think it does. The constant need to have other’s approve of ‘me’ puts ‘me’ too much on my mind. I’m better off focussing on my work, my kids, and on what I think of situations, events and the people in my life—the real people who are actually in my daily life.

Here’s to a more mindful and present existence.

Love & Light ~

L. x

 

 

Eight Days OFF Social Media

offgrid

So, it’s been eight days since my 15-year-old son and I quit our social media addictions. For my high schooler, the cons have been not knowing what his buds are doing and being off snap chat and being outside the inside jokes. He switched his snap chat addiction for more youtube video watching, on topics such as saving and investing or on relationships. Hmmm. For me, there really hasn’t been a down side. Isn’t that amazing? Last weekend I edited all of my chapters of Between Thoughts of You, my favorite novel out of the three I’ve written. Sounds arrogant to say that, and I’m not claiming to be the next Hemingway, I just adore my main characters. I L O V E them so much. Lulu feels like the woman I want to be and the old man she cares for, the grandfather relationship I never had (both my grandfathers died before I met them.) Plus, the culture of Hawaii and all the history I researched makes me excited to go back. So, there’s that. AND, I’m teaching more yoga classes and working more at the studio so I feel more present and grounded. I had an awesome class last Friday night (happy hot hour @ 5:45 p.m. my new one) then met up with one of my best friends from college who was having a birthday party. And no one saw any pics! (Gasp!) I didn’t worry about whether any of us were photo worthy, looking good, or showing we were having fun. I’m clearly more in the moment, except when I’m writing, and then my mind is traveling through my characters to Italy, New York, Japan or Hawaii…but I’m not telling more than that at the moment! LOL

So, even though my life is pretty much the same, I’m more focussed, centered and less in my Ego. I’m more present. I’m not concerned about whether the pace of my life is moving too slow or whether I ‘should’ be having more fun or doing more, or seeing what friends are doing that I’m not. Right now, it’s boys, yoga & writing … every damn day. Sprinkled in between are the laughs, the phone calls or texts, rather than instagram or facebook likes or comments, and in-person connections that I’m excited about. 🙂 No comparisons. No drive to get ‘likes,’ which are never a substitute for off-line attention, appreciation or conversation, right? If someone really cares, they’ll reach out. Period. I also haven’t been distracted by my feed and prevented from doing what needs to get done. As a full-time single mother juggling work and kiddo activities, getting sucked into social media means less time to take care of me or this house or the boys. I even got the carpets cleaned—no more gross stains! And hired a handyman and squeezed in some fun posting a picture and seeing who approved of it. Here’s to more offline productivity and mindful fun. I’m teaching an extra class tonight and ordering dinner instead of cooking and cleaning. Not a bad deal.

Life is Good offline this first week.

Love, Light, Fun & Balance ~

L. x

Embracing Chaos

Heartgarden

So, I cried today. Hate to admit it. Maybe a little over the weekend too. Life is hectic right now. I’m trying so hard to be mindful, but I’m doing so much solo, somethings gotta give. There was a gas leak because my landlord didn’t install the dryer properly. That was scary. And then trying to get my son and pick him back up from beach camp every day this week (school starts Sept. 6!!) has been stressful. First I take my oldest to school by 7 a.m., then I’m racing to the studio to open it in the morning, get it cleaned and ready for the 9 a.m. class, then race with my son to the beach drop off spot and then back and it takes an hour at least with parking being nutty. It feels like I just can’t get it all together. I raced so fast to pick him back up by 2 p.m. the other day that I nearly ran a stop sign. I can barely leave the hot studio before 2 with all the work that needs to get done. Most afternoons and evenings involve racing to pick up my oldest, then soccer practices, then taekwondo, then my yoga classes I teach (that fill me with gratitude and peace). I don’t know what I’d do without the yoga. Because I literally feel like I’m teetering on many days. My landlord laughed at me the other day and said “girls can do anything boys can do, you’ve got this.” That was his way of getting out of doing something that needed to be done at the house that is in disarray with lots of things still broken. I thought I’d cry. I can’t handle one more job. I’m still writing too, so yesterday I had to finish an article, and edit another chapter in my spare time. Ironically, like yoga, the writing centers me. I just wish I could figure out how to balance all the family demands a little easier and find more time away from parenting when I need to.

So I missed a dear friend’s funeral last weekend because I couldn’t get sitter coverage and my ex is rarely free. It was a family friend who helped take care of my mother, an aunt to me my whole life: she did my hair, she made my prom dress, you get the idea. Family. I’ll send a letter, it’ll be ok. My oldest was in a soccer tournament anyway, so 5 games Saturday and Sunday and I needed to be there, the boys were super aggressive. But I may miss my real aunt’s funeral at the end of Sept in Maine, and even though my ex will be in the States, he is choosing not to help. Something’s gotta give. After cleaning the studio and two races back and forth for the beach camp pickups, then back to the studio, after cleaning it, I just sat down in the girls locker room and cried. Probably because I’m tired. Probably because I feel so unsupported.

It’ll be ok. It always is. I’ve been doing this solo parenting gig for 8.5 years, right? I’ll dip into savings again and hire a sitter and go to Maine. It’s worth it.

Life is hard now, but as Buddha says, it doesn’t stay hard forever: “Life is a circle of happiness, hard times and good times. If you are going through hard times, have faith that good times are on their way.” Buddha

For the rest of today, I will mindfully be present and grateful that I am safe, I am healthy, that my boys are amazing, healthy and happy and that I am mainly surrounded in my life by sweet, thoughtful yogis. I am thankful to have kicked the social media habit, too, as I need not compare my life with others. This is my life right now. Today is hard. Tomorrow will be better.

Love & Light ~

L. x

Avoiding the Vacuum Syndrome

stoptalking

The ‘vacuum’ is a syndrome. And I’m a magnet for it. Just ask my college BFF. She can tell you many stories about ‘girls night out’ that resulted in me getting sucked into this vortex by a man who needs a therapist to help him. It sort of goes like this: all the other girls are having fun at a bar, a party or a venue—giggling, talking with all the men who have flocked over, dancing, etc. At one point, someone in our group wonders, “Where’s Laura?” until they find me sitting at a corner table with the first man who introduced himself to me. I’ll have a panicky look on my face, that he clearly doesn’t notice. I’m desperate to get away, but am stuck in his mid-stream confessional rant. I am a magnet for TMI conversations with random strangers.

Now I know the only way to true intimacy, joy, and a real connection is through vulnerability—but Jiminy cricket, not in the FIRST encounter! Why is it that I’m the girl random men, at bars or events, or first dates, like to confess to? Why can’t I be that girl that fun men drag to the dance floor? Why can’t I be like my college roommate who always ended up meeting men who’d later take her to concerts, dancing, or to see comedians?  I’m the gal men want to take out to eat, or go on walks with and TALK. I mean, I have countless stories like this. I’ll go to a bar with friends to hear the local band and dance and instead, end up hearing about one man’s horrific child abuse; or another man’s endless thoughts of suicide after his divorce; or how another man just can’t get over the fact that his mother died of cancer 5 years earlier. These sort of deep convos happen within minutes of our meeting. Well, not always within minutes, but SOON after. I call it the vacuum syndrome because by the time I realize I’m in one of these situations, I have a hard time just getting up and leaving, as the man is typically mid-sentence about something horrifically sad and I feel bad for this person.

But the thing is, I need to feel bad for myself. I need to have more healthy fun in my life! I need more levity, more spontaneous dancing, more gut-hurting laughter. I need this sort of abusive encounter to stop. Especially now. I’m a single mother. So I take care of my sons 24/7. Even when I’m out, I wonder if the babysitter fed them well. Only during the 4 weeks they are with their Dad, do I get that mental vacation from responsibility and worry. I don’t need another drain to my energy or another person who needs a mother, therapist or savior. That needs to be clear.

My line of work is also very giving. As a therapeutic yoga teacher, I listen to others a lot. I can also feel their dis-ease and we talk about it and practice meditations that will help ease chronic pain, anxiety, fear and even combat cancer. I love what I do, and I love my boys and my life. But when I go out, I want to laugh, be silly and basically not be asked to listen to horrific tales as a bar-stool therapist.

Recently, a few girlfriends convinced me to do online dating. I don’t date the men I meet in my yoga classes, that would be unprofessional. And I don’t go out as much as I’d like, so meeting new people outside of my neighborhood or my circle is a challenge.

I naively thought this vacuum syndrome was over. I mean I live in sunny southern California where the skies are blue, the ocean is near and there are many playboys who want to stay young and play forever. But my recent parlay into online dating was disastrous. I mean, ridiculous. I should send each and every man I met for a date a bill for my services.

First, there was the man recently separated who went on and on and on and on about his ex. I told him to stop. Did he even read my online dating profile that said only to reach out if you want to try to make me laugh and lets not talk about exes? Um, clearly not. I ended up coaching this gentlemen and reminding him that his ex is the mother of his children. That it’s important to try to understand before being understood. To practice taking deep breaths and responding, rather than reacting, and to stop talking smack about her in front of their children. At the end of the date, that I cut short, he gave me a big bear hug and told me he loved me. YUP. I RAN to my car!

Then there was the guy who told me about horrific abuse by his father, toward him and his mother.  We had just ordered our meal. I had given up alcohol for lent, but was DYING for a drink as he spoke. I felt like an addict needing a fix. He just wouldn’t shut up. And he was beautiful. So damn beautiful. I remember just mentally drifting, so his voice sounded like Charlie Brown’s principal, wa wa wa wa wa wa wa. As I looked up at his gorgeous mouth I recall thinking: What a pity. If he could’ve just made me laugh, had a casual evening, I would be kissing those lips later. But NO, this former football player and model kept going on and on about how much his mother went through at the hands of his father, their divorce, being raised by a single mother—and then he started crying. Not just a little tear, FULL FORCE crying. Shoulders shaking the whole bit. “I’m so in awe of what you do. Single mothers are beautiful.” Um, OK. What the hell do I do with that? Again, what a pity. He drank an entire bottle of wine and most of the evening I barely got a sentence in, and when I did, it was to reassure him. He even told me a detailed story about a horrific rape he witnessed. I had to put my hands up and stop him. My stomach was turning. By the time we said goodbye, I had NO desire to kiss that man. No attraction to this gorgeous person. I drove home calculating the babysitter costs and feeling super drained and resentful.

Didn’t these men see my profile? In the headline, it clearly stated “Life can be too serious these days. Reach out if you can make me laugh or have a silly evening.”

There were a few other dates that were nearly as bad. So, the online profile is now down. The only reason I did this experiment was to get over someone, but instead, I ended up missing him even more. I miss silly energy. I miss laughing. I miss having someone need me as a woman, and not as a mother or a therapist. Single moms and yoga teachers give and give and give. I want someone to lift me up and not take care of me necessarily, but to add some lightness to my highly responsible world. Just because I’ve lived through a lot, doesn’t mean that I necessarily want to talk about it all the time, or marinate in deep heavy topics. There is a time and place for everything. These men need to contact a therapist, a counselor, a support group or come to one of my yin restorative yoga classes. But going out on a Saturday night, for me, needs to be light and fun.

For now, I’ll either stay in and binge on netflix comedies, or go to a friend’s hip hop dance class, or take paddle boarding lessons to hopefully play with some dolphins. If I meet someone doing things that make me smile, great. But I’m not going out of my way, paying for a sitter, to just get sucked into the vacuum any more!

Here’s to Healthy Love & LIGHT & SILLINESS this week. 🙂

L. XO

Still Sleep-Training??

A friend saw this video and sent it to me today. It was a wake-up call as life isn’t THAT much better since being given a sleep therapist. Four and a half years ago I was on the Dr. Drew‘s Life Changer’s show because a producer read this blog and saw that I was struggling to get my baby to sleep on his own. Struggling was an understatement. Maybe you can relate?? Dr. Drew hired a sleep consultant and gave me this gift. She did help, temporarily. My son is strong willed and screamed and screamed and kept my older son up. It did die down, but was SO hard. A few years ago I hired a nutritionist to help us as well, as she thought it was tummy upset from gluten allergies. Well, that helped a little, but not a lot, if I’m honest. When I think back to all the years when my son was always yelling and screaming and overcome with dramatic fits over bedtime…no wonder I turned to yoga! lol.

 

I’m sure it was my fault for giving in before the 3 week mark of letting his scream it out. I think single parents often over-compensate and snuggle a bit more with their kiddos or do the family bed thing for a lot longer than necessary just due to guilt, being over-tired, or just the need to get in more closeness if working too much away from the home. My James, now 8, still races down to my bedroom some nights, but it’s not a daily gig. Thank God for little miracles! He still insists that I snuggle in his bed (which I don’t mind!), read a book and then listen to soft music with him. We sometimes do deep breathing and always say our ‘gratefuls’. We have a routine. And I’ve put in star shows, twinkle lights, a range of soothing spa-like music and it’s still hit or miss as to whether he’ll be asleep by 9 p.m. on school nights. Sometimes it’s 10 p.m.after he’s gotten out and in bed over and over.

Seriously?

So, I think my friend sent me this video to remind me to toughen up. It’s time for life to get more organized and allow me more me time. My little guy has a safe and cozy room and a mom and big brother who love him. The energy is positive and loving in our house…so basically, he’s milking it! At 8 years of age, shouldn’t he be in bed by 8 p.m. and asleep lights out by 8:30 p.m. sharp every night? Any ideas on motivation? I’ve done star sheets, Taekwondo awards, allowances…what works for you? Seriously, I’d love to know, as this single mom needs her little guy in bed, lights out by 8:30 every night so I can be more productive and maybe chill a little in the evenings. 🙂

I look forward to your thoughts!! And, thanks for chiming in.

L. xo

Navigating Joy & Sorrow in the Labyrinth

maninmaze

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.

harrys-maze

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.

L. x

Seven Year Anniversary

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.

With gratitude,

Laura

 

Lessons from a Frustrating Day

NLeditedheart

photo by @rickylesser

When everything goes wrong, God is still Good.

God is indifferent, but not uncaring.

The dolphins still play, the sun still sets, the stars still shine, even if I can not see them.

There are trails to hike, trees to climb, clouds to dream under, even if I can not find the time.

When someone steals from me, God is still Good.

If fires rage, God did not cause them.

If he never calls again, God is not to blame. And I am still enough.

We are all in this together. The one who steals from me, the one who abandons me, and the ones who lift my spirits. We are all God’s children. We are all each others teachers.

When everything goes wrong, God is still Good.

There is much to learn. How did I respond when I didn’t get my way? How did I shake or tremble or shut down by another’s hurtful behavior or frightening choices? Did I stay graceful when speaking my truth?  Can I find gratitude or a lesson within what feels like a never-ending chaos of activity and whirlwind of needs to be met? Did I pause at the end of the day and reflect with kindness? Can I still embrace forgiveness? Can you?

I have much to learn. I am grateful to be able to keep going. It is a miracle I can fall asleep knowing that no matter what happens to me, or to you, God is still Good. Love is still alive. I detach and focus on Love.

Giving to Yourself this Holiday Season

gift2me

I recently read a very cool blog post about Buddhism and giving without any intention of receiving. It was written by a man. A very beautiful soul. And I love his blog: The Accidental Anarchist.

With all that said, it is still abundantly clear that this post was not written for me—or any other American moms with co-dependent tendencies or who are over-giving, people-pleasers. I am laughing right now at how I worded that! See, I’ve been working for about 6 years, maybe more, on my issue with giving till it hurts and people pleasing. I’ve been in a support group about it. I’m a yogi who, in every class I teach, reminds her students to balance their chi: learn to give AND receive. Receiving tells the Universe that you are worth it and that you value yourself and your time. When you allow others to give to you (and that can mean just giving friendship or compassion, not necessarily monetarily) it says that you believe you deserve to receive, that which you also give. Otherwise, when you give and give and never receive, you are telling the Universe that you are not worthy, not entitled to love, friendship, compassion, and trust me, that vibration will be heard loud and clear. You know the person who always throws the birthday parties, or who always gives of her time in a myriad of ways, but THE MINUTE someone asks if they can do something for her in return, she insists NO NEED, DON’T BOTHER. IT’S FINE!, REALLY, I WAS HAPPY TO DO IT! That was me. And I’m now a recovering over-giver. ha ha

Ok, some of you who are reading this may think, well, that’s a  bit harsh in the holiday season. Not at all. It’s in the holiday season—when everyone and every agency and every school is demanding of your time, your money and your volunteering—that you are tested and are given the opportunity to discover whether you are an over-giver, and whether you’re ready to slow down and be kind to yourself. That does not mean you don’t give charitably. I’ve already donated to causes, adopted a family and volunteered at one school this season, and yet, I’m viewed by those I did find the courage to say no to, as not giving enough. It’s time to stop the pressure to go, go, go  and to stop taking advantage of the givers. That may never happen in our frenetic American society. But you and I DO have the power to slow down. It comes with one word: NO. A No to a taxing demand, is a YES to YOU and your family. Trust me.

So, here’s how to identify if you are an over-giver.

These are the two main types of over-giving that drains your chi, your life force, and creates emotional instability, resentment and health problems:

  1. Co-dependent giving:
    * When giving to others never ceases, as people keep asking for more. You are literally attracting more and more takers because that is the energy you are putting out: Others needs are more important than your own.
    * When giving to one individual becomes toxic as they make it clear they might become destitute without your help. They use guilt and manipulation to take advantage of your giving heart. Yet that person’s problems or needs become a burden on you, your family, or thwart you from meeting your own goals or taking care of yourself or your family.
    * You are the go-to person in a crisis. You never lack for friends, yet you don’t confide in many of them. Instead, you are their ear, their rock, their support. For instance, do you always pick up the phone every time a friend is in need, even if you are on a work deadline or it means you won’t be able to run crucial errands or take a desperately-needed exercise class? If this is a one-time thing, no biggie. If it’s a daily or weekly experience, you are stuck in the rut of over-giving due to an insecurity of being needed and, therefore,  are creating distractions to thwart you from following your dreams, achieving good health, or leading a balanced life.
  2. People-pleasing giving:
    *Do you always say yes to every request to volunteer or to help out, then are later filled with resentment when you are exhausted and on the edge of a meltdown?
    *Do you find yourself throwing the biggest parties or fundraisers, yet rushing around filled with anxiety about what others will think, so much so, that you yell at your children while you are putting together the perfect evening to raise money for a school-project?
    *Do you find it nearly impossible to speak your truth or say no for fear of what others will think about you or say about you? And when you do finally find the courage to say no to something or to back out of something or a project that is taxing you, do you feel obligated to give a million explanations to smooth things over?
    *Is your favorite line: “Oh, whatever you want to do is fine.”? In your attempt to be easy going, to be liked, and to ‘go with the flow,’ do you end up always going to the type of movies you hate, or going to restaurants you don’t like just to not make waves?

If you feel like I’m being harsh, just know that this tough love article is written as a reminder to myself. 🙂  To some extent, I was the woman above. And to this day, I still find it hard to say no to someone, or to back out of a volunteer gig or an activity without feeling insane amounts of guilt and without giving a million excuses. (One of my favorite books on this topic is Women Who Love Too Much, check it out!)

For instance, this past Tuesday I had been running since 6 a.m. After getting lunches done and getting kids settled for school, I worked at a yoga studio from 8:15 a.m. – 2:15 p.m. Then I raced to pick up my youngest from his school, then dropped him at his chess club, then raced to my older son’s soccer game. I missed the first half, sadly. It ran over, so I was late to pick up my younger son from chess, but thankfully, one of the moms stayed with him. Then we raced home, only to recall my older son had a therapy appointment he almost missed, so we raced back out. As I dropped my older, my youngest reminded me that it was also Cub Scouts night and that I was to stay for an additional hour to plan the mistletoe fundraiser and the Christmas party. I pulled the car over to the side of the road and just said “Nope, not doing it.” I was calm, but just decided enough was enough. My youngest said that his friend’s parents would be mad if we quit the Scouts again. (this had happened last year and they begged me to try again as it ‘is so good for teaching morals to young kids.’ I took a deep breath and told him that we just can’t make everyone happy. I need peace. I need stillness. My house was a wreck. There were dishes in the sink, laundry piled high and I really wanted to cook a healthy meal and help with homework and get my youngest to bed on time. I needed to meditate. I needed to edit a manuscript. I needed at least an hour to myself. I had no desire to be in the Scouts den until 8 p.m. and then race home exhausted, eat pizza and crash into bed late, feeling resentful. If the Scout leader and his wife get angry, so be it. I’m exhausted.

As we sat at the table that night my youngest looked up at me and said, “I accept your apology mom. It’s ok. You can’t do everything.” What a sweetie. He really loves the Scouts. He really wants to do camp outs. But mommy really needs some sanity, some quiet, some balance. I can’t be racing about constantly. I had to fight every urge in body not to write a super apologetic note to the scout leader. I don’t need to. It’s just not the right time for our family. Nothing more is needed to be said. What I have learned is that giving a ton of explanations to takers is like giving a bone to a dog. They will chew and chew on it, giving you all the reasons why you can still do what is causing you anxiety or draining you. Why? Because it serves their needs.

Earlier this year I bowed out of an additional yoga training I was in. I so wanted to do it. But it required three days of nearly 6 hour sessions, 2 – 3 classes to take each week, reports, etc. This came at a time when some drama hit my family that was super stressful. That, on top of my increasing editing work load and all the other classes I teach. Plus, my older son’s soccer schedule ballooned into daily practices and 3 – 4 games a week. I was drowning and exhausted and becoming drained.

Will my friend who led the training ever understand? Probably not. But that’s not the point. My health and emotional well-being was taking a toll.

So, it’s been a long road to learning this hard lesson. I can’t do everything right now. I must give to myself. Even if I don’t give to myself at the same level of giving to others (what full-time single mom ever does?!) at least my needs, my health, my life goals, are on my to-do list. Just knowing my needs deserve to be on the list, is half the battle.

My challenge to you, dear friends, is to put yourself on your to-do list this holiday. What can you do for yourself? How can you fill your heart so that you feel abundant and joyful and grateful? When we are depleted, it’s hard to give with open arms joyfully.

Maybe you’re thinking you don’t have the funds to spring for a massage or a mani-pedi. That’s ok. Take a walk. Ask a friend to watch the kiddos and go for an exercise class or to a movie or write in a journal at a coffee shop while sipping foamy hot chocolate. Find something that feels luxurious and just allow yourself to have that. A bubble bath while reading. Take one hour off and give to yourself. Or even better, say no to one request from a taker, even if that means you lose that friendship. You are making space for yourself and for more compassionate and thoughtful people to come into your life.

Happy Holidays!

With love & light ~

Laura xo