Sunday, September 30, 2007

Divorce Lessons

A friend was talking about her impending divorce and asking about my experience.

Yes, it's hell. Yes, it's devastating. I didn't know how I was going to manage, but...

Actually, after a while, being on my own started to suit me. It's nice to be able to call all the shots. It's nice not to have to answer to anyone. It's nice to be responsible for myself and my decisions. It's super nice not to have to feel responsible for another adult's happiness, satisfaction and general well-being.

Don't get me wrong. I am not a proponent of frequent and senseless marriages and divorces. Especially when there are kids involved.

I am an advocate of long-term monogamy and believe heartily in the sanctity of marriage. Hell, I'm even monogamous when it comes to hairstylists and physicians. According to, sanctity is defined as, I'm paraphrasing here, that which is inviolable, sacred. On inviolable, from the same source, not susceptible of being violated, corrupted or profaned. And sacred? Something inviolable.

Here's where it starts to get sticky. I believe that when the sanctity of marriage has been violated, there is no marriage. They don't call it a partnership for nothing. I think we can all come up with a dozen or so violations that would void the partnership.

Stickier yet, what if one partner is unhappy? It's not really a violation is it? But I also believe, as many if not most of us do, that we have an inalienable right to personal happiness. Yet how to define happiness. As I've said in an earlier blog, "when saying no is really saying yes," there's the quick fix happiness and the lasting, durable happiness.

I do not believe unhappy people should stay married for the kids. But in my opinion, working on the issues together is the way to get to lasting, meaningful happiness.

Check out "Grow up! how taking responsibility can make you a happy adult," by Frank Pittman. Lots of good ideas here about ways to think about relationships, needs, wants and happiness.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Give Yourself a Break

I finally figured it out. After finishing a writing project, I don’t want to write for a week or two, or more. I just don’t feel like it. But I feel a bit guilty. After all, if I’m serious about my writing I should write every day, or at least every other day, right?

I can look back and see the pattern. After something big is completed, writing project, a race, a class, I like to have a little break. I’ve trained (and I use the term loosely) for the run for months and my next run might be slow and short. I’ve studied during the class for months and when it’s over I might not look at anything related to the material for a weeks.

I used to feel bad about it, like I should always be keeping up the pace. Now I realize that I need the break. It helps things clear, or helps me rest or allow things to gel. With a writing project, I have to clear the decks and let my thoughts move on to something new. It takes me a little time to do that. With a race, I’m just plum tired of the push and I want my body to rest a bit and help me decide if I’m going to tackle another. With a class, I find when I leave the material and ideas for a while and then go back to file things away, I can see more clearly what’s really useful now and what I might need later.

Even when you love what you do, there’s pressure if you’re working hard. That’s why we take vacations. It allows us time to have a break and do something different. It’s similar to a suggestion which I’ve found really useful in my writing. Put it away for a day or two, or more, if possible. When you come back to the manuscript, you can see it more clearly from a different perspective. It often allows you to add some depth and clarity.

When you plan a break, like a reward, it feels good. It’s not like the guilty pleasure of sneaking time away which is bittersweet. Just give yourself a break. You worked hard and deserve it.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


As I stood in my kitchen eating my cereal, running water for the plant on the porch, putting away the groceries I'd just picked up, I ran out of things to do for a moment. I recalled something I'd just read before sleep last night: "when you brush your teeth, just brush your teeth;" and meditations on a shower: "Close your eyes and take some time to feel the water on your body." Both quotes from "Quiet Mind. One-minute Retreats from a Busy World" by David Kundtz.

I tried to stop and eat my cereal, savoring the taste, the feel in my mouth, the moment of doing just one thing. Being mindful we might say.

Soon after I was watering, picking up and considering what I'd do arriving home a bit early tonight. Should I run even though I'm going to yoga today? Is there someone I need to try to have dinner with?

Then, mindful of what I'd just been considering, I thought, no. Just come home, have a little time to do what you need to do. Take a little time to eat dinner quietly, alone while reading the paper and listening to music. This is a combination of things I relish doing and rarely have an opportunity to do. Give yourself permission to do it tonight I thought.

Yes. Slow down and enjoy.