Thursday, December 31, 2009

Gratitude, solitude and a new year

I have been remiss in my blogging duties, caught up I suppose in life- work, kids, holidays, dating and all of the wonderful things that I am supposed to be writing about. The dawning of new year and in fact a new decade seems like a good time to reflect, write and of course reinvent.

What have I learned in the past year and decade? More than I can even imagine if life experience is truly the best teacher. In the past ten years I became a mom for the second time, traveled to China again, managed some health challenges and surgery, survived the incredible pain of betrayal and divorce, mourned the loss of my father, moved, dated, worked, deepened friendships, made new friends and welcomed my sister into my home. I have cried, meditated, mothered, smiled, prayed, loved, laughed, written, read, and in the end celebrated my life..the good and the tough times. I love the concept of gratitude as a form of prayer. It is the ultimate thank you to God, the Creator, the Universe - whatever your beliefs tell you about a higher power or plan in our lives. Seems like a simple concept, but one that I must remind myself to do. Makes sense that if I want to open my life, heart and spirit to new joys, people and opportunities, I had better recognize what is all around me already.

For me that sometimes takes solitude..and getting quiet to drown out the noise of bills, kids, barking dogs, unfinished manuscripts, the ex-husband, late child support, bosses who want reports and numbers, and great guys I meet who don't seem to realize how fabulous I am (LOL) or who are not quite ready for a woman like me. My life is actually full of blessings that I see clearly when I open my eyes.

In 2010, I will find a way to give myself that solitude, quiet time for thinking, reflection, visualizing and dreaming. This is my year to manifest so much in my life- new love, a relationship, finished manuscripts, career growth or change, the completion of a half-marathon, a healthy and fit body... One of the reasons that I love walking/jogging vs. going to the gym is that it gives me a chance to be alone (a rarity in my life.) All of my dreams for the year are going to require that gift to myself of quiet time to connect with spirit and with myself. I have found meditation to be extremely helpful and soothing to my soul. Clearing my thoughts through mediation actually helps me get clarity about all the situations in my life -if of course I want clarity! Getting quiet will help me connect to write, to more clearly map out my career, to get aha moments of insight about ny kids and to recognize that special man when he shows up. It also results in me being a little kinder and more gentle with myself..

Happy New Year to all- I hope everyone finds peace, joy and your own sources of gratitude in the coming year.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Bittersweet memories and agreements

December 11 - this has been a strange day for me. Ten years ago today I married my now ex-husband. Yes, this would have been my 10th wedding anniversary. However, almost 5 years ago at the end of January, 2005, my world felt like it was falling apart. I learned of my husband's infidelity and 9 month affair and by the summer of 2005, our marriage was officially and legally over. All of these years later, after the tears, prayer, meditation, counseling and ultimately forgiveness - of him and of myself, I find myself thinking about what this now long ended union brought into my life. I felt no anger or bitterness today...just a twinge of sadness of what might have been, not neccesarily with him, but with a man who really would have loved and cherished me as the vows ask one to do.

Top on the list of what I gained from my marriage is Dani - the amazing, beautiful young woman who became my stepdaughter and now is a 21 year old college junior. So hard to imagine that I met her when she was in the 5th grade which is the same age as my Lily. Ten plus years of having Dani in my life is well worth the pain of my marriage and divorce. She will always be my stepdaughter and in my heart.

I also learned so much about myself during that short lived marriage, through surviving betrayal and then divorce. I learned that I am stronger than I could have ever imagined, that time really does heal, that I can bite my tongue almost all the way off to stop myself from saying something that will hurt my kids and that forgiveness and healing from the worst pain imaginable is actually possible.

A dear friend of mine is reading the Four Agreements - a fabulous book by Don Miguel Ruiz. I read it a number of years ago while going through my divorce and his mention of it brought back its meaning to me.

The book is a fascinating way to look at life and find happiness based on the Toltec teachings. The agreements help you break other false agreements that you have made with yourself and with others that cause pain and needless suffering. They remind me of some of the messages of detachment that you find in Buddhist philosophy.

The Four Agreements are:
1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don't Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don't Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

The agreements sound like basic common sense but are harder to live by than they might seem. Agreement number two in particular seems to apply to what this day signifies to me. Realizing that nothing that my ex-husband said, did or didn't do really had anything to do with me. It was all of his "stuff", his problems, his issues and lessons. I had my own lessons and stuff to deal with but learning not to take his actions and words personally was HARD but neccessary for my healing and ability to make it through the pain I was feeling at that time.

Funny how things can come full circle. The Four Agreements is really a book about living authentically- my biggest goal in my desire to reinvent my life.
Time to pull it off the bookshelf!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Vicky's secrets, lies, men, daughters and body image

I am a 46 year old woman.. and for at least 30 of those years, probably more, I hate to share the fact the a common theme and/or concern for me has been my body. Weight, body image, seeing myself as too fat, or believe it or not at times too thin (much more rare - early 20's when I was living on Dexatrim and didn't eat)..never good enough. Thinner was always better and meant pretty when I was growing up. I know that I share this issue with many women. Gorgeous, brilliant, successful and interestingly enough - often in women with wonderful figures. They (and I) always find our flaws. How can I have so much in life and still let a day be filled with concern because my hot, red, party dress for next week's bash may not fit exactly as I think it should.

I know I am not alone. I have a colleague- a drop dead gorgeous woman who works out regularly and literally has the perfect body. She was lamenting recently about the fact that she ate two or three slices of pound cake over the weekend. I would venture to guess than even the hot Victoria's Secret models worry over camera angles, cellulite and imagined body flaws.

It would be really convenient to blame men for all of this angst. You know, men - who love gorgeous thin women, adore and fantasize about centerfolds and porn stars. Isn't it their fault that we are trying to live up to some impossible image, some fantasy of the skinny stripper with big, fake boobs? After all, they like that stuff.. Except for the fact men seem to accept, desire and love women without the judgments that we often put on oursleves. I have been flirted with and asked out regularly over the past 30 years= actually more today than ever. Look around, women of all shapes and sizes often have adoring men at their sides. I think men respond to passionate, sexually confident (it really does get better for us over the years- subject of another post), and interested woman..period and when in the throes of passion are really not judging us or analyzing our cellulite levels. Thank God for men - you ROCK.

So if we can't blame men...lets blame the media. The Dove true beauty campaign was fascinating as it exposed all of the photoshopping and engineering that goes into a simple ad - neck thinned and stretched, cheekbones made more prominent, face thinned- you name it. I showed it to my 10 year old daughter who said "Nobody really looks like that then.." Truer words were never spoken. Factor in the very skinny models and actresses- and we do have a problem. Especially with young girls who don't yet know their worth and can't separate fantasy from reality. When I see the ultrathin models- maybe it is the mom in me, but all I can think about is that I really want to make them a sandwich! I do believe that media stereotypes are an issue and creating problems for our daughters. I will talk to my girls about those images and the expectations that they might create. But, really doesn't it come back to me in the end?

I am the one letting all of that nonsense in to my psyche. Nobody rents space in your head without your permission- I am still working on that. I am a smart, attractive, generous, sensuous, loving and successful woman. I am dating and men find me pretty and sexy. I am preparing to walk/jog a 1/2 marathon, eat healthy and remain committed to fitness. I take care of myself and feel better when I work out and eat right. Why isn't that enough for me.

So, this part of me is a work in progress, one that I will let my daughters in to see. I will celebrate the fact that men are pretty great. And I will have a heck of a time at my Holiday Bash in my hot, red party dress!