Archive | May 2017

May 20th: Listening

May 20th- Listening

One of the things I have learned over the years while working with young adults is the importance of listening.

I can imagine right now some people laughing at this statement …. thinking to themselves, Young people don’t listen,¬†but I can tell you with absolute surety… that they would be wrong.

Young people do listen.

And when I was having my most trying days: the end of my marriage, the loss of my beloved nephew, it was in their concerned, caring, and focused attention on my well-being, where I found my solace.

As an adult, we often lose this quality of living “present” in the moment.

And though I am good at saying to my students, when they are desperate to share with me, “Wait. Hang on… let me put this aside… I want to give you my full attention right now because I can see that this conversation is very important to you…” I often do not show this same kindness to those I love at home.

Driven by emotion, caught up in my own needs and wants, I sometimes fight to be heard, sure that what I have to say is absolutely the most important thing.

Today, I am reminded that a conversation is a dialogue between two people.

That both of us have a right to be truly heard.

That sometimes… it is more important to listen than to speak.

That by only caring about my side of the conversation, only waiting for my words to have meaning… I will not learn how to build solid relationships of trust and compassion with the people I love or find out what they really want or need.

“Dear God, help me to listen. Help me to see that for me to be heard, I must be willing to listen to those who so desperately need to be heard around me.”

May 19th: Thinking before Acting Out

May 19th

My emotions during my divorce often left me sad, lonely, full of despair but, there were times… driven by high emotion… when I would inappropriately engage in an angry exchange with my soon-to-be ex-spouse.

In the moment, to scream, to yell, to say all of the horrible things I wanted to say, directly to the person causing me intense pain, felt incredibly liberating.

But of course, after the fact, when the emotions had cooled and the battle was done… I was ashamed that I would behave in such a manner.

What if my children had seen our angry exchange?

Would I want them to witness my verbal abuse towards their father?

Would I want them to behave like this with their friends and loved ones?

Would I want them to learn from me… that it is okay to break all of the rules of kindness when we are hurting?


My acting out in anger went against everything I believed in the core of my spirit.

My aim should always be: to heal myself in relationships and not to inflict harm on another.

I do not have to agree with what someone has done… I do not have to accept poor behavior in my life.

But I do have to consciously choose to walk away from an altercation and put the focus where it belongs: on me.

It will do more damage to my spiritual growth, by allowing myself to become my shadow self and act out, instead of embracing life, and learning from my experience.

If I choose to engage… I am condoning this behavior and refusing to look at life from a higher perspective.

“Dear God, help me to not engage in angry outbursts. Help me to not waste energy that could be focused on my own healing, well-being, and spiritual growth.”

May 18th: Milestones and Silver Linings

May 18th-

When I was in the midst of my divorce, each moment, of each day, seemed like a struggle:

To get up without becoming physically ill from anxiety.

To make it through the work day without crying in public.

To make it through the night without waking.

To be present for my children when my mind was obsessed with the despair of my loss.

It was a never ending cycle of heartache and I had no idea when time would move me through the pain.

But time did move me through… and soon… I began to count the small milestones, the markers that gave me hope… faith that I would soon be healed:

The day that I woke up and though weary… did not become ill from nervous anxiety.

The day that I did not cry in public.

The first night of restful sleep.

The first moment with my children when I was once again truly present in mind and body.

These may seem like small milestones to someone looking in, outside of the pain, but to me… they signaled that relief was coming if I just had faith and kept moving forward.

My divorce was one of the most painful experiences of my life but today, I am thankful for the lessons I learned from it.

My silver lining is in the knowledge that I have strength beyond measure, compassion for others who now suffer what I suffered, and that I was willing to give myself whole-heartedly, committed, to someone I loved.

My divorce changed my perspective for the better: It reminded me that empathy is key to life.

“Dear God, help me to light the path for others that walk behind me. Help me to be present for those that need my experience, strength and hope today.”

May 17th: Longing for Someone

May 17th-Longing for Someone

When my husband and I divorced, I so longed for his return… for things to be different.

The people closest to me tried to be sympathetic to my feelings, but they were unable to understand my ache for him… they were all too upset… too angry at how he had ended our marriage.

And yes… it was not the best way to end things… but I found it hard to hold any anger against him when the pain, emotion, inner turmoil I felt was focused on the fact that he had chosen to leave me and share his life with someone else.

I wasn’t angry… I was profoundly sad.

I couldn’t imagine him giving up our life together.

It took time for me to adjust to life without him.

It took time for my longing to dissipate.

It took time for me to accept that I was no longer his wife and our sole contact would be related to our children.

It wasn’t easy but today… my time with my former husband is enough.

Our shared history lives in the memories of our children, and the conversations that we still have as a family.

Today, I rarely long for my past, I have perspective and work to live in the day.


“Dear God, help me to accept change. Help me to let go with kindness.”

May 16th: Anxiety, Stress, and Fear

May 16th-Anxiety

When I was going through my separation and ultimately… my divorce, I often found myself overwhelmed by anxiety, stress, and fear.

The lack of control I had in regards to the end of my relationship was putting me in a constant state of agitation.

I went back-and-forth between “fight” or “flight” either engaging in arguments with my husband in order to have any type of interaction with him and find a way to feel powerful or, I would hide from him… from the demise of our marriage by basically living in my bedroom, and self-soothing with movies and comfort food.

Unfortunately… these coping mechanisms were only adding to my anxiety, stress, and fear.

If I engaged in an argument, I berated myself for my lack of spiritual fortitude and if I hid and self-soothed, I berated myself for my lack of will-power.

It was a never ending shame spiral that intensified my fear.

Out of balance, emotionally  worn, physically out of shape and tired, I was falling deeper into depression.

With the help of good friends and kind mentors, I learned that these behaviors did not suit my needs.

I learned that the best way to conquer my anxiety, stress, and fear was to take care of my emotional and physical well-being even when it was the last thing I wanted to do.

I thought of my children… and imagined what I would say… or do for them…. if they were suffering.

I held that image firm in my mind as I began to take better care of myself through, spiritual footwork, healthy nutrition, and daily exercise.

Each of these three things began to work in my favor, turn the tide of my despair, and send me moving forward.

I found that my stress and anxiety began to slowly dissipate as I put more effort into my well-being and less thought into my fear.

“Dear God, help me to take care of myself when I am struggling. Help me to find comfort through healthy means.”

May 15th: Sacrifice

May 15th-Sacrifice

Sometimes I get into a place where I am focused on the “all about me” of life.

It happens… where my problems, needs, wants, concerns, seem to become more important then anyone else’s.

In my marriage, I must admit, that there were many times when my husband’s needs were not met due to the simple fact that I was resentful about a time when I felt he had let me down.

Maybe it was my youth that stopped me from taking the higher road.

Maybe it was the fact that our relationship seemed out of balance to me… always tipped in his favor… and so I was unwilling to bend.

Maybe I was just intensely focused on myself and believed that my focus on our life together, our children, gave me the right to ignore his individual needs.

But today, I know that sometimes I must sacrifice my needs for the greater good of the relationship.

I know that when someone I love is under duress, being pulled in multiple directions, feeling that their time is worn thin, that they are unable to re-charge, that maybe I need to put my own wants aside and allow the person I love to take a moment and just breathe.

If my own needs are not pressing… not life-threatening, or paramount to the relationship…

If this is not a repeated pattern of emotional neglect…

then can’t I take the spiritual high ground, and make the sacrifice for someone I love?

Wouldn’t I want them to do so for me if I was emotionally and physically worn and in need?

“Dear God, help me to see the world from all perspectives. Help me to step back and make sacrifices for those I love.”

May 9th: Honesty

Camie Gross Dean May 8th

Being completely honest with myself is not always easy.

There are times when I hide behind the denial of the truth… unwilling to accept the reality of a situation.

During my divorce… I found it very hard to be honest about the painful experience that lay in front of me.

I wouldn’t accept that my marriage was over… and I was sure that if I just kept pushing for the outcome I desired… it would somehow magically work.

It didn’t.

After a period of time, I was able to put my fantasy aside and embrace honesty.
I started by accepting the situation and admitting that we were not going to be able to reconcile our differences.

I then focused on my own spiritual footwork so that I could move through my emotions and evaluate my part, my responsibility in our break up.

Finally, I worked to be honest with my family and friends: it was difficult to say out loud to others: I’m getting a divorce.

I felt embarrassed.

I felt like a failure.

But over time I realized that I was not the only one who had suffered a great loss through divorce and that there were so many people ready and willing to share their own experience, hope and kind words.

Honesty is telling myself the truth.

Honesty is being straightforward in my conduct.

Honest is embracing my integrity.

To move through my pain I must first be completely honest with myself.


“Dear God, help me to be honest when I am afraid. Help me to look at the reality of the situation when it is difficult to do so.”

photo credit: Camie Dean Gross