Saturday, October 16, 2021

Eulogy For My Post-Divorce Cat


The loss of a pet yields a unique type of grief.

Some people’s, post-divorce acquisition is a home, other’s a car, but since I got the house and did not need a new car, mine was a cat. It’s a rite of passage for the newly single, perhaps the first time they have made a major purchase solo. Or, as in my case, the first time in a long time.

The cat was not really a solo acquisition. It was my son and me. It was the first big thing we did together post-divorce that was just the two of us.

Eighteen and a half years ago we drove to a double-wide in a slightly more rural area than ours, too close to the city to be country, but too far and wild to be suburban. It felt like an adventure.

She was a beautiful, tiny kitten billed as Siamese, which the mother clearly was, the father clearly not. It was one of those situations where, you’ve come this far, can you walk away kittenless? Of course not. I did not point out that she was obviously only half Siamese. Truth be told, I was a little afraid to question the sellers who didn’t look like they were too interested in bargaining.

Read more here...

Friday, July 9, 2021

The Quest to Mindfully Engage with the Moment

I wish I had these mindfulness skills when I divorced. This is the start of my recent piece about mindfulness, being present in the moment and all things letting go...

Learning to let go of each moment in order to be fully present in this moment is key to mindfulness.

 Being present in the moment is a mindfulness essential. Unless you've willfully ignored 15 years of health and wellness articles, you know that research shows that mindfulness meditation improves health and wellbeing in a variety of ways (e.g., it reduces anxiety, depression and blood pressure). The jury is in: Cultivating mindfulness makes a lot of sense.

To be in this moment, you must release all those moments that came before. This idea of letting go of each moment before the present moment, which, by the way, is now past, is one of those persnickety meditation conundrums.

How do you let go of those moments? While it's easy to let go of a neutral moment, perhaps a thought about what you want to have for dinner, you must also let go of positive moments. That's not to say that you should not savor your successes—you absolutely must. But not when you're trying to focus on the present. Wins are a lot easier to release.

The most challenging to release are those moments with a negative tone. Maybe it's a memory of why you chose one path instead of another, or something as small as why you said one thing instead of another. Our mistakes, missteps and other misses tend to be very sticky. We seem to have a paradoxical need to hang onto them.


Monday, July 5, 2021

12 Coping Skills You've Discovered In The Last Year That Can Sustain You For Life

Divorce is its own kind of trauma. Any new coping skills you've picked up to help you cope with COVID will also be helpful in dealing with your personal crisis. This is the start of a piece I wrote about the skills you may have discovered...

There is considerable research in psychology to suggest that after a trauma we can come back stronger than before. We can become more resilient. 

Tragedy can prompt the development of new coping skills.

This can be the case with the Coronavirus pandemic. The difficult times called for new habits in order to keep yourself, your family, and your mental health safe.

Have you developed any new and positive habits during Covid? You can decide to keep these new behaviors as you move through 2021 and beyond.

The virus didn't vanish on January 1st, but we're edging closer, so deciding on your intentions post-pandemic will help you maintain those healthy routines.

Here are 12 examples of some coping skills you may have developed and should definitely keep doing.

1. You exercise and go outside more.

A combination of not having much to do and wanting to get out of the house yielded a huge crop of new walkers, runners, and cyclists.

Like the seesaw diet, it could be a situation where once things return to their new normal, you ditch your new habits. It doesn't have to be that way.

Keep reading here...

Friday, June 4, 2021

Coping with Anxiety is Not One Size Fits All

Whether your anxiety predates your divorce or the pandemic, the solution is unique to you.

Photo by Tom Fisk from Pexels

During the pandemic I learned I am an ambivert. It was the A.Word.A.Day, word of the day one day and it fits. Neither introvert nor extravert, ambiverts, according Anu Garg, have qualities of both.

It brings to mind something I’ve been pondering during this pandemic—the notion that one size does not fit all, whether in clothing or people. Be it those one-size-fits-all running hats, how introverted you are, how you cope with your anxiety or how you grieve a loss, we are all different and we need and want different things.

My head is simply too small for those alleged one-size-fits-all hats. I am, as I mentioned, neither intro- nor extravert—it depends on the situation and my mood. I like to run to reduce anxiety, a passion not everyone can relate to for coping. I grieve quietly, privately, unobtrusively, and can still feel the pain years later as it if were yesterday, clearly not a mode of grieving that works for everyone.

Back to the pandemic, some of my clients and friends have been more anxious during the past year. Some previously quite anxious are, oddly, less anxious—the true introverts, I suspect. They do not mind working remotely, the absence of dinners out with friends or not having parties to attend.

Read more here...


Friday, May 21, 2021

How Many Therapists Does It Take To Change A Lightbulb?

One—it takes one therapist to change a lightbulb. But it really has to want to change.

You're post-divorce and there are a lot of changes you think you might like to make. 

And in these trying times, when we’re all trying to control anxiety and depression about the state of the world, learning to change how you react is a process. My yoga practice helps keep me grounded in how to learn, something we adults often lose sight of.

When you embark on a yoga practice like Ashtanga, you must have an intention to master the poses, breath and flow.

Fully committing to the practice is essential for progress. It’s not that it has to be done daily. It’s more that you practice on some type of regular basis with the goal of being all in.

Experimentation is required. Does it work better this way, or that way?

It’s not about comparing yourself to others. It’s about comparing yourself to yourself. Wow! I couldn’t do this when I started.

You don’t want to phone it in. Even if it’s a crappy day and you can’t do half of what you did just two days ago. You want to be present and mindful.

These principles of learning (intention to achieve mastery, commitment to regular practice, willingness to experiment, being fully present and mindful) relate to a lot of things in life. I think they relate directly to the process of change.

If you want to change your reactions to anxiety-provoking or depressing situations, you must follow these principles as you would to learn anything. And, of course, you really have to want to change.


Friday, May 14, 2021

Am I Allowed to Have Post-Pandemic Complaints?


Getting out and doing things post-divorce is an important coping strategy. This is a piece I wrote about trying to get out as this pandemic is, hopefully, nearing its end. Feel free to complain along with me. 

It starts like this...

Because I have not experienced the bone-crushing losses due to COVID that many have, I hate to complain about how it will be post-pandemic. Nevertheless, as we are possibly just emerging from the thick of it, I'm going to give myself the grace I've been telling others to give themselves and go ahead and complain.

Last week we went to Gibbs Gardens, a lovely, wooded spot in Ball Ground, Georgia—no, I'm not kidding about that name. You can see from my photos that it is indeed a beautiful place.

The day was intentionally selected to avoid crowds. And it was not crowded. I shudder to think about what it's like on the weekend with more people, more kids, more noise. I'm sure it's still amazing, just not as amazing. Especially these days.

There were singles, couples and small groups of people. You know how you tend to stop and cluster together to talk when you're with a bunch of people? Well, that happened. As I'm approaching one of these groups I'm starting to wonder, do I need to put my mask on?

Were I not vaccinated this could be one of those two out of three situations ((1) outdoors and (2) distanced, but not (3) masked, since said group was unmasked) in which you don't need a mask.

Read more here... 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

'Hamilton' Has Become the Score of My Global Pandemic


Photo by Sudan Ouyang on Unsplash

As if divorce is not enough, now you have COVID, civil unrest and an upcoming election to deal with. 

This piece is a reflection on how the arts helps us cope. It starts like this:

The pandemic thus far has dealt me one unexpected disappointment: the postponement of Hamilton in Atlanta. 

Live performance is something we often experience as uplifting and renewing. Another balm unavailable to us during the COVID crisis.

In no way am I suggesting that this is a big deal. I have mercifully been spared a variety of painful decisions, tragedies and heartbreaks, but the musical has become a touchstone for me.

 The proverbial opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade appeared when I was able to watch Hamilton, with millions of others, as Disney started streaming the original cast production. It was a remarkable opportunity to see an amazing ensemble and the play itself is simply mesmerizing.

Since my month of streaming had not yet expired, I started listening to it while cleaning my house. 

I'd have to say, and being a clinical psychologist, I’m qualified to say, things started to get a little obsessive. As you might guess, paying someone to clean my house means I really don't like cleaning. Nevertheless, I've lately been looking forward to cleaning because it's become my Hamilton time. 

I sing along, even though I've been told I should stick to my day job. I dance; no one has to tell me to stick to my day job. I'm tempted to bound into rooms at the end of my workday belting out, So what've I missed?, as if I'm Jefferson returning from Paris.