November 22nd: Gratitude

My husband and I separated in the summer and by fall, I believed that I would be able to handle the winter holidays with a calm heart and a bit of perspective but…

When Thanksgiving arrived, I found myself at odds. I became angry at my husband… I felt that when he left… he had robbed me and my children of all the good memories that would come when celebrating joyous holidays with those we love.

I was sad, unable to focus on the day’s events, until one of my close friends pulled me aside and asked me what was wrong.

When I told her that I felt the day had been ruined because my husband was not present she looked at me and said, “Are you saying that his presence is more important than all of us? We are the people that love you and choose to be in your life. Don’t you value our time together? Your time with your friends and family? Your children?”

It was exactly what I needed to hear.

I was so busy mourning the loss of my husband I was not paying attention to all I had in the loving friends and family that surrounded me… all who were offering me support in my time of need… by spending the first holiday since my divorce with me and my children.

I was humbled by her words.

Today… I cannot spend my time mourning people who choose not to be in my day-to-day life. I must release them to God, pray for their well-being, and focus on the people who matter most to me: those who share their love with me daily and choose to be in my life and by my side.

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“Dear God, thank you for the joy you bring me through love and friendship. Thank you for surrounding me with people who offer me kindness and support during my most painful trials.”

November 21st: Reality

This morning as I was starting my day, I began to think of many of the things I was longing for: basically… people or events I hoped would one day enter my life and bring me joy and happiness.

But then… I stopped myself.

I believe it is fine to daydream or strive towards having things that I want but… I realized that I had been thinking about “the next big thing” or “the attention of someone I longed for” too much lately and that I was not living in the reality of the moment.

The reality of today?

I have a great life with many great people in it.

I have a life full of joy and happiness.

I have a life where I am loved and where I give love.

I was missing so many great moments by looking forward to what I may have someday instead of looking at what I did have today: a good life.

I am thankful today for being reminded to focus on reality and not fantasy.

Being grateful for what I have, staying in the moment and enjoying life… with my thoughts and my feet planted firmly in the day… is where my Higher Power wants me to be.

There is nothing wrong with longing for things in my future, hoping that I will one day receive what I so badly want… but if it is all I can think about, if it takes away from my day-to-day life, then I am losing time… missing out on everything and everyone good around me… while I pin my heart to a fantasy.

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“Dear God, thank you for filling my life with joy and happiness. Thank you for surrounding me with beloved friends and family. Help me to be present in each day… aware and thankful of your gifts.”

November 20th: Silence

I am not a quiet person and I did not grow up in a quiet family but, I still relish the time when I can find silence in the middle of noisy chaos.

Silence can calm a restless mind and silence can also open it to solutions.

When I find myself becoming overwhelmed… I take the time to find a moment of solitude:

A walk in the Nature Center by my house… on one of the quiet paths.

A silent moment in my car… parked on top of a hill… looking out over my city… or…

A short weekend trip, away from day-to-day life where I can rest peacefully by the lake and just watch quietly as nature unfolds.

These moments of silence, whether they last just a few minutes or a few days, like prayer, soothe my spirit and rejuvenate my heart.

When I find myself unable to make decisions…

When I find myself being at odds with those around me…

I must make time to step out of the frenzy of my daily world and make room for silent moments.

These moments are a gift that help me to once again find balance and God’s grace.

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“Dear God, help me to find a moment of quiet respite when I am lost in the chaos of my world. Help me to see that I must make time to find peace… in nature and solitude.”

November 19th: Caretaking

I have always been a caretaker.

Even before my marriage, all the way back into my childhood, I was taught to care for others first.

There have been numerous times in my life that I have thrown everything to the side to run head-on into another person’s crisis in order to help them get through it.

I always loved being needed… loved stepping in and saving the day… loved the rewards I reaped by seeming so “competent and together.”

But, over time I became tired, worn out. My own world neglected while I worked, usually to the point of exhaustion, helping someone else overcome their own chaos.

The “super hero” in me wanted to be there for everyone but often, by stepping in, I was teaching others to look to me for help first… before learning to come up with their own solutions to their problems or crisis.

I realized I was doing a disservice to my friends and family… impeding their own spiritual growth… each time I just “handled things.”

There is nothing wrong with being there for the people you love and helping them through troubled times: It is an admirable quality to be an anchor for someone during a storm.

But, when I use my care-taking to people please, distract myself from my own needs, work, or problems… or to save others from consequences of actions or learning how to manage their own lives… then I need to look at my behavior and change it.

Today, if it is a “true” crisis and I am called upon by a friend or family member to assist in the problem… I am present in their moment of pain and I wait for their direction to proceed.

I offer support when called upon instead of stepping in and doing what I believe is best for all involved.

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“Dear God, help me to be present for friends and family during a crisis. Help me to be supportive while allowing them the right to navigate their own path. Help me to share my experience, strength, hope, and direction only when they ask for my guidance.”

November 18th: Intimacy

After my divorce, the idea of being close to another person, made me quite reluctant.

I was afraid to trust… afraid to care too much… afraid to let my heart go “that far” again and end up being hurt.

Therefore, I had to do the spiritual footwork necessary to open myself up to the possibility of giving and receiving love once again.

After awhile, when my pain had healed and my heart grew strong enough to chance the feelings that would come with this step, I walked bravely forward.

It wasn’t easy… but the more I allowed others in… the more I recovered from my painful past.

Today… I still struggle with intimacy. I still sometimes create walls to hide behind or push those I love away… believing that I can protect myself from being hurt.

But I know, that to live life on a surface level… has never worked for me and never will.

It is hard to feel safe when sharing yourself with another human being… to trust that they will accept you as you are… and that they will love you flaws and all, but life is meant to be experienced through powerful and intimate connections to other human beings and not meant to be lived in fear.

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“Dear God, help me receive the gift of intimacy. Help me to see the joy and all of the benefits of truly sharing who I am with another loving human being.”

November 17th: Blame

While going through my divorce, it was easy to blame my husband for everything.

All public opinion had been on my side… people were shocked that he had left such a good and loving wife… angry that he had abandoned me… upset that he had hurt me… and our children.

At first, I liked that I was being perceived as the “good one” and the “saint” while he was being considered the “devil” himself.

And… for the first year or two of our divorce… I allowed him to be the one who was handed all of the blame… my pain and anger too great to admit any fault of mine to him.

After many months of spiritual footwork, I began to be more honest about our entire marriage and my part in our break-up.

Had I been a good and loving wife? Yes… of course I had. But… I had to admit that I often took a lot of pride in being the one who was seen as perfect while he was seen as the man that would continue to fail me.

After awhile, when outsiders would accuse my ex-husband of every fault they could imagine, blame him for our failed marriage, I would say, “Marriages are hard… we both made a lot of mistakes” and stop the conversation at that.

Blame does not fix the problem.

Blame does not create a solution.

Blame pushes the truth away so that we never have to look at our part in a difficult situation.

By letting blame go, I was able to look at my marriage with honest eyes, learn from my own mistakes… and my ex-husband’s… and move forward into a new life where I would be able to focus on better spiritual practices in all of my relationships.

I know now, that I must take time to look at all sides of a situation… to try to understand another person’s actions instead of immediately assigning blame.

It does not mean that I condone bad behavior… it just means that I look at what may have brought on that behavior in another human being and did I have any part in the problem.

If I choose to assign blame… if I am unwilling to look at this problem honestly… I might make a judgement call that could impede my own spiritual growth.

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“Dear God, help me not to make rash judgements or hide behind blame. Help me to have the strength to willingly look at all sides of a problem with an open heart and an open mind.”

November 16th: Prayers

I have always believed in the power of prayer.

While going through my divorce, I prayed daily… often asking God for specific things or specific answers to questions I had about my life.

Many times… I just bowed my head and let my tears fall.

After awhile, I began to write my prayers in my daily journal, to remind myself what I had asked for from my Higher Power.

A year went by, my marriage ended, my husband moved on, and I continued to work towards mending my broken heart and it was then… that I looked back through my journal and saw each of my daily prayers.

I was stunned to realize that most of them had been answered.

I have heard it said before that when you ask God for answers or ask God to bring you specific things… to remember what you asked for… prayed for… when the gift comes your way.

Today I am blessed with so many wonderful gifts from God and when I pray, I bow my head and thank him for all he has given to me.

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“Dear God, thank you for bringing me so many wonderful gifts. I couldn’t even imagine what you had planned for me and what you have in store for me in the future.”