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.

“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 5th: Belonging

No matter how much I love to be an individual… there is something inside of me that longs to belong with the people I love, admire, and respect.

But there are groups… groups that I have been a part of over the years… that have not always brought out my best self.

My shadow self emerges when I am with these people and the urge to belong drives me to act in ways that no longer suit the person I am today.

I find myself either full of ego, self-doubt, or struggling with my self-esteem and it still, to this day amazes me, that after all of my footwork in spiritual recovery… I can so easily fall back into my former ways with certain people.

These relationships are important to me. I am firmly connected to them through shared history, love, and family ties.

I want to belong with these groups… I just want to act as my stronger, higher, spiritual self when engaging with them.

If these relationships are relationships that I choose to continue… I must work to see what is driving me to “act out” and learn to take opposite action so that I can create healthy relationships and belong with a peaceful mind and heart.


“Dear God, help me to be my best self around all of the people I love and cherish. Help me to overcome my ego, and self-doubt, and move forward on my spiritual path.”

for Mary 10-8-35 to 11-5-17

November 3rd: Inspiration

Today I spent time playing music with one of my favorite students.

She is in college, preparing for her first big recital, where she will play the Bach Cello Suite 1 Prelude.

She is already an established rock musician, barely 22 and has already toured the world, and yet she was nervous about playing a classical piece “live” in front of me; her teacher.

I watched as she turned shyly, moved her bass away from me and finally, turned until her back was towards me and her face was barely visible.

I smiled to myself, letting her have her space, refusing to chide her as I usually do when I find my students becoming shy with me… I sat quietly… waiting for her to play, and then listened as the most beautiful music echoed out into the room and stopped everyone within the immediate vicinity, in awe of what they were there to witness.

Each of us, paused and listened, stunned by her brilliance, her talent, her shy yet lovely way in which she held her head down, as if a tiny bird, and played.

I felt my heart swell with pride, this music… so inspirational… this moment… where we all stood together in time.. in awe of this young person.

I looked at each of the faces around the room, each smiling… eyes fixed…. amazed and inspired by her talent.

I thank God each day, that I have people like this in my life.

People who stand out as shining beacons during times of pain and hardship.

If I had been in despair today… I would have never been able to hold it… or wallow in self-pity.

She inspired the best in all of us by sharing one of her many gifts that God gave her to present to the world.

When I find myself struggling, I must remember that God brings me gifts each day, and it is up to me to be aware of these moments and thankful for the joy they bring to me.

“Dear God, thank you for surrounding me with friends and family that inspire me to rise to my highest self. Through these joyous moments we share, you remind me that there is light even on my darkest day, gifts too beautiful to ignore.”

October 29th: Easy Does It

Learning new behaviors takes time and during my divorce I could often be hard on myself when I would slip and fall back into my old ways.

I felt challenged in my behavior, as I struggled through such a trying time. I was not always able to carry out positive actions by taking the “Higher Road” which then left me feeling shame-based and disappointed in myself.

I wanted to be better.

I wanted to be “fixed.”

But correcting old behaviors is not something that can “magically” happen over night.

It takes time to perfect new positive habits.

I had to be kind to myself.

I had to accept that I would make mistakes.

I had to learn to not take my lack of progress so hard.

As long as I was on a spiritual path…

As long as I was progressing…

As long as I was putting forth all my effort into the footwork…

I was moving forward at the pace that God intended for me.

I needed to remind myself on a daily basis that I was doing the best I could with the resources I had and that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.

I had to tell myself often “Easy Does It” while I learned a new way of life.

“Dear God, help me to be kind to myself even when I feel I have missed the mark. Help me to see that I did the best I could while working towards your positive new path for me to follow.”

October 13th: Relief

After months of fighting to save my marriage, I was surprised to find that when the end of our relationship finally arrived, I was relieved.

I felt a soothing calm over my entire body.

My mind slowed and relaxed.

It was no different then any physical struggle: I was worn by the constant battle… the constant expenditure of energy.

I still had my moments of sadness, of melancholy… that quiet longing for what I could no longer have… but the relief filled me with a new found strength and hope. I could now see that there was a release to this painful time in my life.

There was a sense of drive again… of wanting to move forward.

I began to conquer little things I had been neglecting for months during my emotional turmoil:

Washing clothes.

Paying bills.

Cleaning the house.

Getting the car tuned-up.

Each chore that had once seemed so overwhelming to me during my pain, now seemed like a small accomplishment.

And each small accomplishment, added to my relief and soon… I felt pleased with my progress and actually happy that I was moving on.

Relief soothed my soul and brought me peace as the door to my marriage finally closed.

“Dear God, thank you for bringing me relief from my pain. Thank you for walking with me through the pain I endured.”

September 25th: Being There For Others

My divorce was a great loss… the grief felt similar to what I had felt at times when I had mourned a death.

It was palpable.

I missed my husband so much and it was hard to believe that he was no longer with me.

It was difficult not to wallow in self-pity, or lament my lot in life.

I found that by helping others, I could help myself out of my own pain.

I took great comfort in teaching.

I took great comfort in being of service at meetings.

I took great comfort in performing small random acts of kindness each day.

By being there for others, I found an escape from my own pain.

By working towards soothing another’s discomfort, I found peace from my own.

“Dear God, help me to see that I am not the only one who suffers. Give me guidance to bring love and hope to those that are in pain.”

August 23rd: Prioritites

Even though things hadn’t been great for me and my husband for quite awhile, I still missed having him around.

I didn’t have him to help the kids with their homework while I cooked.

Or pick my son up from music lessons while I folded the clothes.

I missed being able to call out to my husband for help and unfortunately, during our separation and divorce, we didn’t have the type of relationship where I could ask for his help.

I had heard of people being a better team after a break-up, but that wasn’t what was happening with us. We couldn’t even communicate at a civil level.

I felt so overwhelmed.

I felt so trapped.

I was left taking on the day-to-day responsibilities of our family and the strain was catching up to me. I didn’t know what to do. I had to let go of something or I knew I would end up in ill health.

I had to learn to reschedule and re-prioritize what was truly important.

For now, I might have to do a fast food dinner instead of cooking. If ordering out freed up my time so that I could get a task done that was weighing heavy on me, then it was worth it.

For now, I might have to let the house be messy so that I could help my son with his homework. What was a messy house compared to helping my child?

Once I started to prioritize, figuring out what I really wanted and needed to spend time on and what I could let go of for today, I started to feel better.

Maybe there would come a day when I could ask my husband for more help.

But for now, I could look at what needed to be done and decide what was truly important to accomplish. I could look at what could be left, and what needed to be tended to, and if I could separate the two, I would find peace in my decisions.

“Dear God, help me to see what is truly important. When I am feeling that there is too much to do and too little time, guide me to see what really needs to be done and what can be left until later.”

August 12th: Emotional Relapse

Sometimes, I would let what I wanted get in the way of what I really needed.

I had found out that spending time with my husband while going through our divorce was not helping me to move through my recovery. I still wanted emotional closeness, I still wanted our marriage to work. He did not want these things. He was unable to give me what I needed. Yet at times, I would cling to what I could not have.

My husband came to our home on Mother’s Day. I wanted to spend the day with my entire family. My family meaning: my husband, my children, and my own mother.

As the day went on, I found myself wanting more and more of what I could not have. I tried to be everything to everyone and act as if I was calm and centered. I held it together until the end of the day and then, I felt tired and worn out. I felt like I had been holding myself rigid all day long.

I went to bed early that night… hoping that in the morning… I would feel refreshed. Unfortunately, I woke to an emotional relapse.

It felt like I had been tossed into an emotional meat grinder.

Every emotion that I had been working through over the last several months was vivid and fresh in my mind.

I was raw.

I was crying.

I felt butterflies in my stomach and was unable to keep my focus for the day.

I knew what had happened. Not only had I held all of my emotions from the day before, but by allowing myself to slip back into a “comfortable” place with my husband, I had stirred up what was beginning to be put to rest. I put myself in a position to be hurt again. I allowed myself to suffer this emotional relapse.

I looked up relapse in the dictionary and found, “to slip or fall back into a former worse state.”

That is exactly what I had done.

I had set myself up to fall back into a worse state.

To stay away from another emotional relapse, I would have to consciously choose to stay away from what I could not have.

I had to consciously stay away from what I wanted.

I had to become aware that it was not what I needed and that it would only cause me pain and to fall back into a worse state.

“Dear God, help me to let go of what I want and accept what I need. Help me not to slip back into a worse state of mind. Help me to consciously choose to walk towards a better state of mind.”

August 9th: The Three Second Rule

I had been spending a lot of time thinking of my husband and his new life. I imagined that everything I had tried to give to him for the last 17 years, would “magically” come to him now… now that everything I had tried… had failed… and suddenly… magically… everything would work for him once I was gone.
It was self-abusive.
I would create these elaborate fantasies about what he was doing and who he was with. My head would make up these amazing stories and I would let my mind “swim” in them until I was drowning in despair.
I told my program counselor and she immediately taught me the Three Second Rule.
She said that when I felt one of my “elaborate” fantasies coming on, I needed in the first second… to become aware of it: to fully realize that I was about to take myself to a place that I did not want to go.
Then, during the second, I was to say out loud a command to stop myself from continuing my negative fantasy such as: Stop! or Cancel!
And during the third second, I was to practice opposite action which meant, taking a positive stance instead of a negative one like; praying for good things to happen for my husband and for everyone who was now involved in his current life.
I thought I would never be able to do it.
But… I went home, and later that day, tried it out. I went for a two-mile walk through a park near our home where I often went to unwind. As I walked, I caught myself starting in on my negative thoughts. I did what my counselor had told me: I became aware. I said “Stop!” out loud and I prayed for good things to happen to my husband and everyone involved in his new life and then… I continued walking.
Not more than a few steps later, I found myself in negative thoughts again. I repeated the process. By the time I had finished my two-mile walk, I had practiced The Three Second rule over 20 times! I could not believe how much I had been allowing my mind to wander into negative thinking.
I saw that not only was the first second of the exercise making me aware but, that by completing the entire exercise, I was becoming spiritually aware of the amount of time I had been wasting on this practice. I was spending my precious time, my new life, wallowing in negative fantasies instead of moving forward on my own path.
I continued on with the practice for the rest of the day and the next day, and when I saw my former spouse, I could not believe the difference in my behavior.
I was calm and centered.
I was able to listen to his problems and concerns with a cool head.
I did not react to his actions.
By praying for him… I had released him…. And by releasing him… I had released myself.

“Dear God, help me to overcome my need to dwell on negative images. Help me to see that I am only hurting myself by holding on to this false vision.”

August 6th: Imagination

I once heard someone say, “My imagination is a scary place… I can never go in there alone.”

I agree.

It is a scary place.

I have spent a lifetime creating amazing images in my mind. Most of the time, I use them for positive purposes: to tell my children an exciting story, to write a song, to sketch a picture, or to visualize a soothing, beautiful place when I am feeling down. But sometimes, my imagination gets the better of me.

When I’m in a bad space, if I let my mind wander freely, picturing every negative outcome to a situation, I do myself damage. If I allow my imagination to run wild, unchecked, it can take me to places I never wanted to go. It’s like rolling a negative tape. Repeating a vision over-and-over again until you become overwhelmed and sure that what you imagine is what the outcome will be.

Yes, the outcome could be a negative one: there are no guarantees that bad things won’t happen in life.

But why choose to be filled with despair?

Why choose to reinforce the bad?

Why not choose to reinforce the good?

If I find myself going to a bad place, wouldn’t it be easier this time to say, “Stop the tape!” or “Cut!” and change that image?

Wouldn’t it be better to my sense of self and serenity to use my imagination to my advantage instead of my disadvantage?

Next time I will shout, “STOP!” Don’t go there. Don’t live in despair. Don’t live in the negative. It may never happen so why live in such a nightmare?

I will focus on the positive and let my imagination take me to a better outcome.

“Dear God, help me to use my imagination in a positive way. Help me to use it to create beautiful images, positive outcomes, and serene places, where my mind can float freely and serenely.”