Love

When I was a girl, my beliefs about love were pretty uncomplicated. I daydreamed of a big white wedding in a big cathedral and a husband who was the epitome of a knight in shining armor that would sweep me away to a beautiful life away from all the hardship and sorrow I felt had been such a huge part of my life. He was going to be kind, have a great sense of humor, be tall and strong; because I needed his strength to hold me when I was sad or weak.

As I grew into my young adulthood, I started thinking about what a true partner in love should be. I did not care so much about the big white wedding or having babies anymore. Babies would be a bonus but not a requirement. I wanted someone who would enhance my life and together we could grow and accomplish anything we set our minds to. I thought I knew what love was not. To me, love was not lies or manipulation. It surely wasn’t being disrespectful or disloyal. Love was not fickle. It was unwavering and if it was really great, it lifted you up and brought more peace and joy into your life. I lost this mindset in my mid thirties and realized love can be a choice (albeit a good or bad one). That “free will” thing can truly mess things up for us. 

Now I know, love is God. No one can love me more than He can. No one knows me better than He does. No one knows what my needs are more than He does. If I start with Him first, how can I go wrong? I have spent the last few months rekindling this beautiful relationship I had let fall by the wayside and it has brought me peace, healing, and even hope. I talk to Him daily and He responds in kind with signs and messages throughout my journey. Love is also about healing and recognizing that I am worthy and deserving of love.

Someone recently asked me, “What is my definition of an ideal man?” No one has asked me that in a long while but I was quickly surprised by the words that flowed out so easily and not one had to do with looks or wealth! Instead, they include:

A man who is confident in his faith will be a spiritual leader in the home so we can pray together and share our faith. If we do not have God at the center of our relationship, it leaves room for deception, irrational expectations of one another, and a relationship filled with letting one another down.

A man who has a provider mentality will take care of his loved ones and family. He does this willingly and as a form of self respect and not begrudgingly. This has nothing to do with wealth and more to do with responsibility. This leaves the gates open for me to flourish in my role as a lover and nurturer of our relationship, family, and home. This does not mean I refuse to work to make our dreams come true. It means, I do not have to worry because my work, although it is part of our success, is not so much that it takes away from my role as a nurturer in our marriage and home.

A man who has a growth mindset and loves learning will always be willing to grow and change for the better. I do not mean he needs to work on his doctorate but he needs to have a desire to explore, learn, and grow. Minimum effort equals minimum results. I am mature enough to know that life is about ups and downs and a true partnership is about balance and encouraging one another through the ups and downs. It should not be the job of one person in the relationship to do all the growing and learning. It ends up creating a chasm between you and leaves room for someone to be left behind. 

A man who is a good communicator and does not walk away or ignore problems is a force to be reckoned with. I need someone who is open and honest about his vulnerabilities, pain, and fears. It is not for me to criticize or condemn him for them, but to share them and help him through them. 

A man who is consistent in his efforts to show love, affection, and work on his relationship is a man who values what he has. He doesn’t have to bring me flowers every week but he needs to remember that nothing works if it is neglected for too long. My love language is acts of service. Love is reciprocal and a woman gives more when she feels appreciated and courted. If he is constantly distracted with his hobbies; it is a reflection of his priorities and I need to be number two (after God). 

Lastly, who doesn’t want a partner with a sense of humor. You need to be able to laugh and be comfortable in sharing who you are even if it’s a little crazy sometimes. 

Forgiveness

This is a big word for me this year. I have listened to several teachings about the act of forgiveness and how much it benefits me more than the person I am choosing to forgive. I will be the first to admit that I can hold a grudge like the Statue of Liberty holds her torch! I have a strong sense of loyalty and when I feel disrespected or that someone has done or said something to cause me hurt or pain, I will be the first at the table to walk in unforgiveness and pain. I openly admit to this. 

What I have learned is that the only person I am hurting is yours truly. I choose to hold onto the action that person did to hurt me. It festers and grows and in reality, holds me back in more ways than I can write about in one post. The act of being unforgiving has led me down some dark roads that I have yet to recover from fully. What I have learned is that holding onto the anger, the bitterness, and the hurt is just too costly to my mental and emotional health. 

I can choose to forgive, but I can also have a healthy boundary. 

I can choose to forgive, but distance myself from toxic people. 

I can choose to forgive, but I do not have to rush into letting go of the hurt because all wounds will heal in time. 

The most important part of forgiveness is that I am choosing to release that person from owing me a debt that will never get paid. 

How did this revelation on forgiveness happen? I believe in signs and divine timing. I was listening to the Proverbs 31 Ministries Podcast (linked below) and they discussed the six practical steps to forgiveness. It was another a-ha moment for me to learn how this tangible process of forgiveness can be a step towards moving forward and putting it behind me. Writing a true Statement of Forgiveness lays it out there and is like a pseudo affidavit that puts your feelings and thoughts into action and hopefully, with mercy, we can choose to forgive. When I was writing out these “statements” of forgiveness, (Trust me, I have plenty to forgive!) I recognized the most important person I have to forgive is myself. I am my own worst judge and jury at times and I have not forgiven myself for mistakes I made when I was young and foolish or the big mistakes that I made when I felt alone and broken. After decades of living with regret, I think I finally found a way to forgive. 

https://proverbs31.org/listen/podcast/full-podcast/2018/07/09/six-practical-steps-to-forgive

GRACE

It’s been awhile since I posted and I’m not going to make excuses either. Nothing as monumental as COVID happened to me, but it has taken me a really long time to get the courage to write. Part of me felt like if I did begin writing, I would never stop. The other part of me could not bring into words the pain inside. Not one book that I read could have prepared me for the overwhelming sadness, sense of loss, and the emotional roller coaster ride of going through a divorce. Although my ex and I had a conscious uncoupling and remained friends for the most part, it does not make the loss of a decade of life spent together just disappear.

At first, I wanted to delete everything—every picture I had on my cell phone, every social media post, and every reminder that he ever existed. Then I had the revelation. Why would I want to erase a decade of my life? He was part of me and our lives were enmeshed for a decade. Part of who I am today is because of him.  So….then I started just leaving things as they were. If I saw a memory post show up in Facebook, I just looked and smiled and remembered a happier moment we shared. I stopped trying to delete that “we” happened.

What has happened during this COVID time is that I realized by remaining “friends” in good standing, I was actually halting my healing process. I was not truly letting go. I was using our “friendship” to reach out consistently for support and for connection. I also realized that to truly begin healing and letting go, I have to not be his friend for a while. What else has happened?

While I had not been working due to COVID, I was the most unproductive person on the planet. I slept. I ate. I cried. I rarely went for walks. I read some. I did depression and pity party pretty well. It seems that peeling back the layers of this stinky onion means there’s more stuff bubbling up to the surface—like my emotional eating struggles, my anxiety, my depression, and some emotional pain from my childhood. I have been treading water to take care of myself and what a chore it has been.

I came back to work this week and it was tough. I am grateful that I had a job to come back to but I felt so much regret for the time I lost at home. I decided to give myself some grace. We were/are living in a pandemic! I had to recognize that maybe this time off was meant for me to see just how much pain and hurt I had been burying for so long. I have begun to acknowledge and address it. It will be a slow process but I am finally trying to move on. It has been a few weeks not hearing my ex’s voice or his goofy laugh, but I know I will be fine. God has a plan for me and if I stick to it, I will be ok.

Letting good enough, be Good Enough!

One of my 2020 goals is to try and write and add more to this blog. Working full time, suffering through anxiety and a bout of depression–mostly due to the ending of a decade long marriage; has left me barely keeping my head above water. On evenings that I blow dry my hair instead of falling asleep with it damp, I call it a win! On mornings that I wake up just 15 minutes earlier to drink a full glass of lemon water to start my day, I am pumped! Never in a decade would I have been able to convince myself that these were small reasons to be proud of myself! I am learning to let good enough, be good enough.

It’s been almost three months since my divorce was final and there have been highs and lows. We are still friends and talk once in a while and I miss the sound of his voice and laughter. At first, I found myself deleting everything related to him from my Facebook and Instagram page and then I had an epiphany. Why do I want to erase a decade of my life when that relationship played a role in who I am today? So, I stopped trying to erase a part of my life that I am actually grateful for in spite of how it ended. Maybe that means I am finally finding some peace in this whole experience.

Learning to be single again is weird with a capital W! Of course, I haven’t been single long enough to really feel single but the aloneness has set in. I have friends who divorced and went buck wild partying and hitting the bar/club scene like they were 25 years old all over again. That is not for me. I also have friends who became a gym rat and starting dating immediately after the breakup. That isn’t for me either. And then there is the “soul searcher.” That is me! I feel like I’m waking up from a decade long coma and everything has changed around me. I’m in somewhat unfamiliar territory and don’t quite feel safe just yet. I know I probably need to invest in some type of therapy or life coaching to help me out of this funk and for now, I’m doing something similar on a much smaller scale. I’ve joined Danika Brysha’s YouYear 2020. She’s a self-care and lifestyle expert and God knows, I need that right now. I am hoping for camaraderie, inspiration, and accountability. It is a small step in the right direction in learning how to take care of myself again. I’m also doing tons of reading and I’ll be adding those books and ideas on my book posts. In the meanwhile, I’ve jumped on the WORDS of the YEAR bandwagon. What are your words? Mine are:

HEALTH

HEALING

MINDFULNESS

BECOMING

GRACE

Happy 2020!

Boundaries

During the last few weeks leading up to my divorce hearing, my emotions were all over the place and at times seemed to be spiraling out of control. Although our divorce was mutual and we took the time to consciously uncouple, it has been difficult to fathom a life without my best friend and partner of the last ten years. My emotional eating was out of control. Sugar and carbohydrates were my best friends. I was on a roller coaster of highs and lows. I felt like I was losing what little control over my life that I had.

Now….

It’s been three weeks since “the divorce.” I’ve begun the healing and moving on process. I realized once again just how important taking care of myself is; especially at this time in my life. It has been a chaotic, messy, and emotional year but I am confident that I will come out stronger and more resilient as long as I continue to stay focused on finding my happy place again. Recently, I was faced with rethinking the boundaries and self-care regimen I thought I had down pact. I was reminded that sometimes we lose sight of what we need to be doing to stay in that healthy place. Sometimes, life just happens and before you know it, you are in the thick of a tough situation and begin to feel the overwhelm creeping in.

A few years ago, a coworker walked by my desk and asked me if I made any New Year’s resolutions. My immediate response was, “I don’t make resolutions. I make boundaries.” She came back to my desk and we talked more about what that truly meant for me. It was a profound moment in my life because I had finally begun to realize that my inner work on boundaries was beginning to take hold. Like most empathetic individuals, I was always doing more than my fair share of giving. We are the peacemakers. We are the caregivers. We are the ones to be counted on by family, friends, and even in the workplace. Taking on everyone else’s problems can be a daunting task and can wear you down emotionally and physically.  For decades of my adult life, I spent it people-pleasing, being afraid to speak up, and tolerating negative behaviors—all for the sake of keeping the peace and not wanting to be confrontational. I ended up working myself to exhaustion with a serious bout of anxiety with depression.  That was the beginning of my wake up call.

For the first time in my life, I accepted that it was ok to say no. It was ok to live with limits. It was ok for me to not answer the phone when “that person” called me for a favor. It was ok to speak my mind and stand up for myself. I was not a bad person. I was a tired person who had given way too much and needed to focus more on myself and filling my cup in ways that made me a better person and eventually a better ‘giver.’

What I learned through so much introspection and therapy is that we can only give what we have to give. Setting boundaries and limits are difficult. It is even more difficult if you’re a wife and a mother. It is necessary. Do I feel guilty or bad about saying “no?” Absolutely! Do I allow those feelings to force me to give or do more than I am capable? Absolutely not! I love my family. I love my friends and even the work that I do. I love with boundaries now. I love in a way that helps me take care of myself. If you’re sensitive or an empath, please don’t ever be afraid to say no. Sometimes it is necessary. 

Letting go.

I’ve waited a long while to write this because every time I began, I started to cry. I read a quote somewhere that when you can tell your story and not cry, you are on your way to healing. For the last several months, I have been going through a divorce and honestly, I’m not on my way to healing just yet. This was the second biggest event I have ever gone through and although it was amicable and we chose to consciously uncouple; the pain and heartache was and IS still there. How do you let go of your best friend because your marriage sucked?! I couldn’t even begin to understand how hard it was going to be to adjust to so many little things I had become accustomed to over the decade of our relationship. The first week I slept alone was awful. I hardly slept more than a few hours each night. All of the little things we take for granted in relationships will be the things you miss the most when they’re gone. Even so, I am grateful for the years we had together.

I’m not sure of the stages of divorce but mine was anger at first. I was mad as hell. Once I calmed down and was able to think with a more rational mindset, I began to understand and accept that this was for the best for both of us. We both deserved to have peace and for a long while, we had none. I used to have this idea of marriage as something we just “did” in spite of how wrong it felt or how difficult it became. Now, I believe differently. I resort back to my youthful belief that “good love” makes you both stronger, a better person, and you grow together. Is love always easy or good? No. It can be hard and sacrificial as well, but in the end, the good should always outweigh the difficult.

And now begins the WORK….

I am beginning to realize the dynamics that played a negative role in our marriage. Everyone brings their “stuff” into their current relationship. It is part of human nature. We bring our family of origin. We bring our past experiences with love and relationships. We bring our current mindset of what we believe our version of love to be. In the end, it is truly the uniting of two lives and all of your past experiences that shaped you into who you are today. It is important for both of you to be aware of your “stuff” and be willing to work on overcoming it. You have to be a united front going in because you will face so many challenges as a couple and if either of you are not fully embedded in the success of the relationship, it allows cracks to seep in and over time, those cracks will break you apart. I was listening to a podcast the other day about the topic of divorce. Two things I arrived at after listening to it—nonnegotiables and dating. What are my nonnegotiables going to be when I begin dating again and when will I feel ready to begin dating? I kind of have an idea of what my nonnegotiables will be and as for dating—two puppies sounds more up my alley right now! I need to spend lots of time on myself (self- care) and in nature when I can. Nature, water, friends and family fill my cup!

Keto

I’ve officially been doing the Keto Diet for the last few weeks. Why did I choose this diet from all the others? Simple. I needed to see results fast and I realized that carb restriction is what my body needed to transform into a fat burning machine again. Is this an ideal way to transform my eating habits? No, it is not. I acknowledge that fully, however, this is what I need now. I plan to transition back to the Paleo lifestyle once I begin to feel like I can get back into a regular workout routine. In the meantime, I feel less bloated and have less cravings. I still think of peanut butter sandwiches now and then, but I’m not having a meltdown over it. The first few days were HARD! Sugar and carbohydrate addiction are real! Headache, nausea, lethargy and an overall feeling of doom were at the top of the list for symptoms.

I’m doing this diet with two family members so that we can be supportive of one another in reaching our health goals. What’s different this time around for me than the other “diets” so far? I am staying away from the scale. The scale and I have a toxic relationship. It was time for us to break up once and for all!

I used to have the mindset that I needed to get on the scale every single day. It was a barometer for how I felt about myself and my eating habits. I used it as a form of torture or reward. On days I saw the numbers get lower, I felt positive and wanted to reward myself with a treat. On the days I saw the numbers go up, I was filled with disgust and shame. This time, I decided it was time for a change. I needed to focus on being my healthiest self, versus hyper focusing on the numbers. Yes, I know the numbers will go down with due diligence, however, I cannot subject myself to daily or weekly weigh-ins and set myself up for discouragement or worse—failure! I have weighed in at the doctor’s office recently and so far, I’ve dropped almost 15 pounds. I found myself happier and more appreciative of ANY weight loss.

I recognize now just how carb sensitive my body is. I try to limit myself to less than 50 carbohydrates per day and the carbs I do eat are of nutritional value. I hope to become a true fat burning machine by the end of this journey! My family and I have had some real conversations about food and health lately. Making life changes is difficult but it’s easier with someone who is sharing those changes with you. Is my goal to eat this way forever? No. The best way for me to eat is to be mindful of what I am putting into my body by reading labels for additives and words I cannot pronounce. I thrived after doing my first Whole30 and it truly taught me how certain foods affect my body. I know for a fact that without sugar and grains, my muscle and joint stiffness ends in about a week! I know that when I eat white potatoes, I feel bloated and gassy. I learned that I like many more veggies than I originally thought. I also learned that I love to cook healthy meals a lot more than unhealthy meals.

The journey to health has been a long and tedious one for me.  It is also one I have to do for myself to keep me on track with living the best life I can live. I am experiencing much change and growth this year—some of it painful and some of it hopeful, but I am learning that self-care must be at the top of my list.

Restlessness

Do you believe in signs? I do! Sometimes the divine has a way of speaking to you and it can be as easy as something popping up several times within a small time frame. Other times, it’s a huge sign and you’re finally faced with a truth you’ve been ignoring for quite some time. I’ve been going through a year of self-discovery and trying to dig dipper into some unresolved issues that keep pulling me backward. At the root of it, there is a feeling of hunger and restlessness. I wrote about that hunger on my first post, but the other day on the way to work, the person on the radio was talking about Psalm 62:5 and the topic of RESTLESSNESS and the human condition. Every sentence she spoke was an alarm bell going off in my head!

I have been restless since as far back as I can remember! I was restless in my teenage years because I believed that once I could be independent and on my own, everything would be so much easier and better. I was restless because I believed that my life would be better and easier if I got married. I got married and believed everything would get easier when I was working full time and we were advancing in our careers and making more money. We got those jobs and career advancements and then I thought it would get easier if we saved enough money to buy a home in the country.

Then it happened. I realized nothing was getting easier. Nothing was getting better. In fact, things were just as hard as they always were and I woke up one morning and felt this heaviness in my heart and physical body. I did not want to get up. I wondered what would happen if I just fought back and decided, TODAY, I AM NOT GETTING UP AND OUT OF BED ANYMORE. I did not want to go to work. I did not want to take a shower. I did not want to eat. Everything was too hard. I was more than restless. I was done. I call this moment my turning point. As I sat and poured out my feelings to my husband and sat there broken and crying, I felt like I needed to just stop. I needed the world to stop so I could see what was next for me. What did Dawn need?

I sat in my doctor’s office and just cried. She looked at me stupefied and doubled my medications. She couldn’t help me. All she could do was prescribe more medications. I’d been prescribed pills for my anxiety and panic attacks. I’d been prescribed a higher dosage to deal with the depression and mood swings. I’d been prescribed pills to help me sleep. I was prescribed muscle relaxers and strong anti-inflammatory medications for the constant muscle aches and pains I had. I had even developed stage one high blood pressure and was prescribed blood pressure medication. I felt like I was dying inside and like I was slowly losing my wits! No one could understand and no one seemed to be listening to me.

HUNGER

What do you hunger for? Love? Companionship? Relationship? Faith? Passion? Your past? Food? Money? Power? A drink? A pill?

We all have a hunger inside of us. We may bury it deep down or try to pretend we are in control of it, but are we really? That craving has a way of creeping up inside of us during times of trial, sacrifice, and change. I learned I was “hungry” on the fifth day of my second Whole30. I was eating all the right things. I was hungry! I wanted to feel satiated. My physical body was not hungry, but I felt a hunger deep in my belly. It was for whatever I did not have but felt deep down I needed. I am trying to embrace that feeling and nurturing it with meditation, reading devotional bible verses, and scrolling through Instagram stories for inspiration and hopefulness. I will expound on this new word for me…HUNGER later on but now, ask yourself what you’re hungry for (metaphorically speaking) and how are you filling that void.

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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My name is Dawn and I am 50 and this age has been the time of much growth and change.

I’m a native Texan and have lived in some of the major cities here and the coast.

The beginning.

Over three years ago, I packed up and left my job, my friends, and the life I had built for myself in another city. Even now, I am confident, it was the right decision for me at that time because I was in a rut. I was stagnant and not growing professionally. I craved growth and change. I still remember the day I made the decision to leave a job I loved and the friends I’d made and embark on this journey. My heart ached but I was filled with a fervor that was driving me to make this tremendous upheaval in my life. It’s like breaking up with someone you love for all the right reasons. I’ve grown more emotionally and professionally than I ever have in the last three years. When you jump off a cliff, you realize one of two things: you fly or you die. I flew. Starting over was scary but I did it. I began to trust my life’s purpose and my faith in God. What did I gain?

I gained confidence, strength, purpose, knowledge, and even more faith! I realized things I never knew about myself but had within me all along. I was a leader. I was a performer. I was a teacher. I was a writer. I was a mentor. I finally bloomed! I was flying so high until the work, the responsibilities, the family, the marriage—all of it just took over and I succumbed to bad habits for coping. Somewhere in the midst of all that positive growth; I began to lose myself. I forgot what was important.

Now, I am at a crossroads. Growth and overcoming challenges is not without collateral damage. That is what this blog is about—finding healing and unbecoming everything I thought I was and finally becoming who I am meant to be. It is about re-configuring my life around health and happiness.