Friday, January 29, 2010

Post-Divorce Creativity

So you’re going post-divorce unconventional. Now you have to figure out what, exactly, you’re going to do next. At this point, creativity is a useful construct. Csikszentmihalyi, in his book on the creative process, talks about these five tasks:

Preparation. Here one is consumed with a problem that is at once interesting and exciting. Clearly, the recovery from the loss of one’s marriage and former way of life is likely to consume us. Finding the interesting, exciting aspects is often a bit of a challenge. But really, if your own life’s progression isn’t interesting and exciting, what is? Equally clear to most is the fact that we cannot continue with our former plans and strategies in this new situation. There’s a conflict between what we’ve been doing and what must be done now. So herein lies the interesting, complex and exciting opportunity.

Incubation. This is the time where ideas are growing and changing and morphing into something you actually want to consider acting on at some point. Key here, for the divorce process, is the notion of at some point. People are always asking me how long things will take, whether it’s recovery from divorce, loss of a loved one, no longer feeling an urge to overeat after a successful diet, no longer wishing to smoke after quitting, etc. While I’d love to be able to consult my crystal ball, I’ve apparently misplaced it. Change takes a while to incubate. Just like the chick in the egg, it’ll come out when it’s ready.

Insight. Ah ha. Things come together and it all makes sense. This (fill in the blank) is what I want to do next!

Evaluation. Despite one’s initial ah ha, sometimes, after sitting a bit with the insight, we realize it’s not all that fantastic after all. It’s not necessarily back to the drawing board, but perhaps a tweak or reconsideration of another idea that had been incubating alongside this one might be useful. Not all chicks are created equal.

Elaboration. So you want to be a life coach (one of my post-divorce enterprises), great! How’s that gonna work along with everything else going on? Can I afford the time and money? Will it be worthwhile in the end? What’s it going to take? These are all questions worth considering, as is the case with most new enterprises. The elaboration period involves determining if the insight which you’ve just evaluated to be worth pursuing is really something you think you can see to fruition. Let me emphasize think you can. Anything new is going to have its risks and benefits.

If change was a no-brainer that would be easy. But you’ll have to do some serious thinking, considering, weighing options and then take a risk or two. And once your chick is hatched, you’ll have to let it venture out into the world.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Post Divorce Unconventional

I love red shoes, purses, backpacks and the like.  I also love stories of unconventional people. Life Uncharted, Jan/Feb 2010 Psychology Today (sorry, not on line yet) gives a little info about seven unconventional people. Several have moved out of the country, most have never worked for anyone else, some are married, a few are single, one is a single mom. The thing that they share is their desire to map out and control their own destinies, often in ways that others might find odd or scary.

Divorce is a perfect opportunity to get unconventional. This is your chance to do what you want, not what someone else wants, or what others want you to do. After all, we have unconventional work days and work arrangements, unconventional medicine, unconventional leaders, and unconventional careers, among other things.

One of the things the divorced often report is how great it is to be you own boss and not have to answer to anyone else. If I don’t feel like cooking, I don’t. If I want to spend the weekend reading, playing the piano and watching movies, I can. If I want to take a trip someplace, I go. It’s all up to me.

I know this can be a bit daunting at first, but think about it. To be the proverbial master of your universe. How freakin’ cool is that?

Don’t get me wrong, I love relationships. I just don’t love relationships that are controlling. Let’s face it, most marriages involve a lot of control. It may be mutual, but control it is. It’s difficult to be in a relationship where both individuals are completely independent. It’s almost an oxymoron. But what a great concept.  It's definitely something to look for.

If you were going to do everything you wanted to do in the next week, what would that look like? How would you describe it:  fun, relaxing, exciting? How would it be different from what you usually choose for yourself? Can you do that, or come close to it in your current relationship? This is your chance: consider those new red shoes.
Music to go unconventional with: Live your life. TI & Rhianna

Check out the Living Single blog and Used-Car-Driving, Non-Property-Owning, Unmarried Man Somehow Happy; Experts Baffled

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Music Therapy: Changeup the Playlist

I was delighted to hear Jimmy Rollins of the Philadelphia Phillies say that the Phillies came back strong in their 5th world series game because they changed the music on their playlist. Forget that they ultimately lost the thing, but they did bring in a great performance once they stopped listening to Empire State of Mind and watching Jay-Z.

In addition to replacing some of my Beatles CDs, which went the way of some of my other stuff, there was a frightening group of CDs I thought I had to have shortly after the separation. Lucinda Williams’ Essence, Annie Lennox’s Bare and Steely Dan’s Everything Must Go, among others. In case you’re not familiar, they’re all break up CDs. I’m not even sure I knew that when I bought them. Knowing is relative. Obviously, I knew on some level. And then there was Warren Zevon’s The Wind. Does final album after which he died mean anything to you?

I wanted to know that I wasn’t the only one experiencing pain. Naturally, in my line of work, I’m quite familiar with pain. I needed to know that others experienced the same specific type of pain I was experiencing. That shared pain was important.

It told me my experience was universal. Despite knowing I was not the only person in the history of the universe who had this type of pain, sometimes I felt like I was. The CDs told me otherwise. I was not alone. As studies have shown, misery not only loves company, it loves miserable company. We humans love to share.

And what’s better than knowing that some uber-successful, sexy thing has been as unceremoniously dissed as we have been? It doesn’t get much better than that.

So wallow with friends, real or imagined. But at some point, and you’ll know when that is, it’s time to move on. Coaches are great for giving you that little kick in the pants if you need it, and helping you find new directions. If you know it’s time and you can’t move on, it’s time for a shrink. Face it, we all need help sometimes. It’s New Year’s and maybe it’s time for you to change up that playlist.

Top of the breakup playlist: For No One, The Beatles

Best current changeup song: Jessie James, I Look So Good (Without You)