There are times when I didn’t think we’d make it past the first year or the second year or the third year or the tenth year.
There were times I wanted to run away from him or change the locks on the door when he went to the gym.
There were times when he said, “I am not the enemy.” But, I didn’t believe him because he felt like the enemy to me.
There were times when I felt I couldn’t do anything right to measure up to what I thought he expected of me, and there were times, I know, when he couldn’t do anything right, either.
Those times went on for much too long. It’s as if we waited so long to find each other and fell hard and fast… and, then, began to pick each other apart. Bit by bit. Day by day and year by year.
I’m not sure when there was a turnaround and if anything in particular precipitated it. Maybe we were just tired of being cross with each other. Maybe we were tired of having our BFF always be someone other than ourselves for each other.
But, we both changed and our relationship changed.
He actually was better with me when a long-term girlfriend relationship I had ended. He wasn’t jealous of the relationship, but from his vantage point, he felt as if I was constantly being taken advantage of. Maybe that made me seem weak with no backbone. He may have been right. I was beginning to feel that way, too.
I started to change when I felt appreciated. It made a huge difference. Doesn’t that make a difference to all of us?
And, now today, not only are we celebrating Groundhog’s Day, we are celebrating out twenty-first anniversary – not of wedded bliss, but of a real relationship revolution and evolution. And, it all feels complete.
I recently saw this writing by my friend, Terri St. Cloud of bone sigh arts. When I read it, tears welled up in my eyes. Why hadn’t we taken THIS vow when we got married back in 1995?
I ordered the print from Terri right away and it came just in time for me to share it with Bob. I told him, I’m taking this vow now – wish I’d been smarter years ago, but maybe this is what we both had to learn – to grow into. So thanks, Terri, for putting into words exactly what I needed to say:
“i will be mindful of the act of loving you
every day of my life.
i will not take you for granted,
but will keep my eyes open to the treasure
that you are,
allowing room for your individuality and
your own uniqueness.
i will not try to bend you to my ways,
but rather open myself to your ways as
being part of who you are.
i will embrace all of you.
the dark parts along with the light.
because, together, those parts create
the being that i love.
i will accept you,
respect you and admire you.
and if something comes between us
to make me stumble with this,
i will go to you and ask your help
with my struggle.
i will bring my challenges to you,
looking for your thoughts and support
and i will return that support to you freely.
when i’m hurt, i will believe in your love
for me, i will bring you my hurt, and together we
will grow from it and then put it aside.
i will share all of myself with you,
for i know to receive your entire heart,
you must have mine.
together, we will work,
we will play,
we will laugh,
we will grieve,
and we will find our way.
together we will live gratitude
together we will touch love.”
—Terri St. Cloud, a vow to my partner, bone sigh arts
Wishing you the best, the most love and healing you need in your life right now. I can almost promise you that if you go to Terri’s site, she’s already designed your feeling. She’s just like that.
Turn up the volume, close your eyes
and let the music take over your soul.
This past Saturday night when I was cooking dinner, I had Pandora programmed to play my favorite cooking music which is often a mix of The Eagles, Bob Seger, Jimi Hendrix, and Crosby, Still, Nash & Young. I can sing Hotel California, Night Moves, All Along the Watchtower, and Suite Judy Blue Eyes with the best of them. Besides knowing every word, every pause, every tone – this music, along with a whole bunch of others from the 60’s and 70’s, is my music. It’s the soundtrack of my youth and young adulthood.
When you listen to a Classic Rock station, THIS is the music they are playing. Why? Because it’s classic. Take that Justin Bieber and the rest of your genre.
Call me an old fogey, but this music has stuck with me. Grand Funk, Three Dog Night, and The Guess Who can transport me back to the Student Union Café at college. The Doobie Brothers send me right back to the dance floor at Martin’s Garage, a local bar/dance place where I celebrated my twenty-first birthday my senior year and bought my first legal drink. These bands and their songs were the soundtrack to many trips to Virginia Beach with friends.
With the way all of these memories come flooding back, I often hope that when I get older and perhaps am sitting in a wheel chair in a nursing home, some kind person will put on a little Creedance Clearwater Revival, The Who, or The Doors just to see if I have a response. I bet I will.
Just this month, we’ve lost two rock icons – David Bowie and Glenn Frey. When I hear Let’s Dance or Tequila Sunrise, I’ll smile and be grateful for their talent and what they have shared with gazillions of fans over the years. They will rock on for a long time.
Am I being too sentimental or morose? Nah. Having contemporaries pass is just a reminder that we don’t have all the time in the world. The days are getting shorter for some of us. We can either sit around and worry about that or we can get out there and savor every moment we have and listen to the music that makes us happy.
That’s what I’m doing… making new memories and enjoying the best of the old.
I know it’s only rock and roll, but I like it.
Welcome to my first word of 2016: Resolve. You may have expected me to say resolution. Interestingly, resolution is a word I dislike and yet resolve has always been a quiet favorite. Quiet because I don’t find myself using resolve when speaking or writing, I just like it. It sits in my bank of favorite words and provides me with inner strength when I’m contemplating a difficult situation.
Before I talk about my love for the word resolve, I’ll let you in on why I dislike resolution. Plain and simple, resolutions don’t work. For most of us they start with a bang and quickly fizzle out. Whether it’s a diet, exercise routine, or some new-wave self-improvement gig, if you’re still working at it by March it’s a miracle. I like things that start out small and gain strength as time progresses. I remember when making a tuna noodle casserole was intimidating but now, after forty years of reading cookbooks and experimenting, I can whip up a gourmet meal without a recipe. It was a learning curve that evolved over time rather than a resolution that ended after three months in the kitchen.
Resolve is most commonly used as a verb meaning to settle or make a decision. We resolve problems. The word gets a spot on my favorites list as a noun—a firm determination to do something. She approached the challenging situation with great resolve. Strength, determination—resolve. We get our resolve from within and rely on it when confronted with something difficult. When we feel confident we clearly see our strengths and can elicit the determination needed to complete almost anything. It’s those times when our confidence wanes that we need to look deeper within and access our resolve.
We all have situations we’d prefer to avoid. For me it’s initiating a conversation that I anticipate will make me uneasy or completing a task that’s completely out of my comfort zone, both related to a lack of confidence. My first reaction is to put it off for another day, make excuses or ignore the situation all together. But that usually results in either guilt or angst when I realize the conversation or task isn’t going away. Avoidance is never the easy way out. How many times have we told our children: The longer you wait to say you’re sorry the harder it is to do.
At these times, when I’m in avoidance mode, I think—gather up your resolve girl! The thought often ignites my strength and determination to approach the difficult. Years ago, when I was making a major career change, a friend gave me a card. I keep it in a frame on my desk. The saying speaks to me about resolve and the picture always makes me smile.
Put on your big girl panties and deal with it! Now that’s RESOLVE! We all have that resolve but sometimes need a reminder, like the card, to access our strength and determination.
There’s one other use of the word resolve that I just love. In music, a resolve means going from dissonant sounds to harmonic; from the uncomfortable to the soothing. A resolve is pleasing to the ear when listening to music and a beautiful metaphor for our feelings. When we access our resolve and tackle a difficult situation we move from dissonance to harmonic. Our angst turns to relief and sometimes even inner peace. I just love the musical connection.
So, if you must make a New Year’s resolution have it be this: To be aware of your strength and determination. Be confident that you have the ability to tackle those dissonant situations with great resolve. Happy New Year!
Roberta Dolan is a former special education teacher with a master’s degree in counseling. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, Roberta has made it her mission to end the silence of sexual abuse, lend support to survivors, and educate others on preventing child sexual abuse through seminars, her blog, Write to Survive, and website www.RobertaDolan.com. Say It Out Loud: Revealing and Healing the Scars of Sexual Abuse (She Writes Press 2014) is Roberta’s first book. A unique blend of memoir and how-to, the book offers strategies for healing from any type of personal trauma. Roberta is available to speak to book clubs, women’s groups and organizations on Healing and the Power of Saying it Out Loud.
Imagine my surprise when I went in for my annual physical and the doc said, “You need to lose about ten pounds.” What???
I admit that even though I had pretty much ignored the scales sitting in my closet, I had definitely noticed that some of my jeans felt a wee bit tighter. Okay. More than a wee bit. When I wore them, I felt as if I was gasping for breath. Not good.
But, I’m exercising almost daily, I thought. In the summer, I ride my bike a lot. I’ve been walking, too, and if we ever get enough snow this winter, I’ll be out doing some cross-country skiing.
You know what she said? It’s your eating. I almost had to laugh because one of the things I started doing after moving to Vermont in June 2014 was to experiment with cooking. And, let me tell you … I have cooked. Everything. Some really healthy stuff and some really decadent stuff. And, I’ve eating it all. I’ve even gone back for seconds.
Maybe it’s because my husband can eat whatever he wants and have dessert every night and not gain an ounce. He works out everyday, too. And even though I’ve been working out, I’ve been gaining weight for both of us. Having the metabolism of a snail hasn’t helped.
Now, if you saw me, chances are you wouldn’t think I was that overweight. In fact you might just pooh pooh me for saying it. But what got my attention – it wasn’t about the excess poundage and how it looked, it’s what it has done to my vitals. My blood pressure which has always been normal and very good is now high. Trust me, it’s not because of stress. My cholesterol has gone up and this has never ever been an issue for me.
So, I’m exercising and getting plenty of sleep. Obviously, the good eating has gotten out of control and I must pay attention now before it’s gets even more out of control.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot since my appointment last week and the one thing I was happy about is that I realized it isn’t about vanity as much as it is wanting to be in good health. I don’t want high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or achy joints. I don’t want to get to the point that I’m not mobile – that I need help getting off the toilet. NO!!!
Growing older gracefully is what I want – no injections, no fillers. Okay – most likely some hair color, but that’s it. The rest will be me taking care of me – plenty of sleep, daily exercise, healthy eating, and being with people I love.
Much of that takes a lot of self-compassion – something that my friend Kat Tansey, founder of Choosing to be Fit: The Art of Taking Small Steps to Transform Your Life and the upcoming Unshakable Self-Compassion online course, has helped me understand. It’s about loving yourself enough so that taking care of you – including doing what you can to live your healthiest life – is at the top of your list.
Recently Kat shared trainer Mike Vacanti’s video with me and it says it all: This is what matters – being on your own from age 77 to 87 instead of living in an assisted living facility OR nursing home because you HAVE to. And, what you do today has the biggest influence over that.
It sure put the icing on the proverbial cake (that I’m not eating) for me. I’ll let you know how the healthy eating plan (no diet!) and even healthier living are working out.
Hope you will join me in loving yourself enough to take care of you.
And, if you want to share, would love to hear about your commitment to yourself. We can support each other – which makes it so much easier.
It’s finally hit home with me. We say it all the time and I’m not quite sure we believe it, but I do now. CHANGE is good – even when it might be challenging to leave things the way they are, for us to stay the way we are, and to just settle into our comfort zones.
Of course, you can do all of those things. Comfort zones can be comfortable until they aren’t – when that voice within reminds you that there is something else that could be the icing on the cake for you if you’d… CHANGE.
So, to make it more appetizing, I like the words “transition” and “reinvention.” I like the action words “expand” and “evolve” – all of them sounding so much more exciting and inviting than “change.” In fact, they sound like things I want to do with gusto.
And, that’s exactly what’s happened for me over the past year and a half. Headed into my second brand New Year in Vermont, I finally quit hitting the snooze button and got excited – really excited – about what’s next for me. It’s all about saying YES to trying new things, and putting my old “talents” by the side or where I can get them if I need them so I can fully jump into the new. To try things out to find out… is this for me???
So for now I am saying NO to doing radio shows, podcasts, teaching classes, leading retreats, and serving on too many boards and/or committees. I am saying NO to spending any more time on home decorating unless we see some artwork we can’t live without. I am saying NO to spending time with people I really don’t want to hang around, who throw out toxic energy, or are energy vampires. NO! NO! NO!
I am saying NO to anyone who wants to “pick my brain.” I’ve always despised those words – they sound painful to me. Pick. My. Brain. OUCH! Most of the time I am happy to share thoughts or ideas with people, but that has its limits when it turns into a long session of brain picking. It’s about boundaries, you know?
I am saying NO to things that could possibly interfere with activities I have sanctioned as “Won’t Miss” activities – having dinner with Bob most nights of the week, Friday date night, morning yoga/pilates sessions, biking time in good weather.
You might think that I’m saying NO to lots of things but that’s because I’m saying YES YES YES to so many other things. My “word” for 2016 is REINVENTION. It’s about discovering parts of me I hadn’t allowed to surface and expanding other sides of me that have not made an appearance.
My YES list includes but is not limited to:
Taking more art classes – I’ll be finishing up my third art class soon and have already registered for a Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain class and another clay class. There is so much that is coming out of these creative ventures.
Cooking classes – I love to cook and I love to try new things and three cooking classes are on tap for the first quarter.
Finding my Wild Woman – Okay, I have definitely touched base with her on more than one occasion since we moved. She’s freer, calmer, more compassionate than she was several years ago. I want to know more of her. I’ve signed up for a class at Dartmouth called “Wild Woman” and our text is Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ book, Women Who Run with the Wolves. When I first read that book, it was shortly after it was published in 1992. I was still a corporate minion at the time – an unhappy one. I did not grasp this book. Now, I am ready to run with the pack and howl, so I am really looking forward to starting this ten-week class at the end of January.
More gardening and… beekeeping??? – Well, maybe. The gardening is a definite because I have dreams about what I want to continue and build upon from this past summer. The beekeeping will be in some fashion. I’ll be working with a group of people who are very knowledgeable and I’ll either jump in and learn to do it, too, or allow an experienced keeper to set up a hive that can be sustained from my gardens. Either way, I love the idea of having a garden beneficial to bees, butterflies and humming birds.
Staying healthy – Doing all the things I can to support this fabulous (yes, I said it) body that I have. No longer will I treat my car better than I do myself. I’m getting regular checkups, eating healthy stuff, drinking plenty of water, taking my supplements, drinking plenty of good wine, and getting movement into every day. I’m getting 7 ½-8 hours of sleep each night and taking a nap if I feel like I need one. At this point of my life, I am on no medications and that always surprises my doctors when I tell them that. I’d like to stay that way as long as I can. And, I like feeling good.
Joining a book group – I was recently invited to join a well-established book group. Since I want to read more, this seems like a good way to get me into that groove – plus meet new people and have a chance to be in a discussion group. I’m looking forward to my first gathering in mid-January.
Writing – Over the past many years, I’ve gotten into the discipline of writing at least a weekly blog post and that’s continuing. It’s such an incredible way to share information, do some inner healing, and perhaps write something that may be just the thing that someone else is needing to hear. It’s almost like a journal for me and once I start writing, I could keep on going as things bubble to the surface.
Identifying my tribe – It’s always scary to move somewhere new and not know anyone. I had my Baltimore tribe – and I love them still and miss them very much. But, I need a tribe up here and it’s slowly coming together in the most magical way. I don’t think you can rush the tribe thing. I think it forms for reasons known and unknown – the members just start connecting and the right people show up. I’m feeling pretty blessed about this right now.
Volunteering – Some of this will be involved with creative arts around our town and the other will be with the causes that are closest to my heart – working in a capacity to help sexual assault and domestic violence survivors. Unfortunately, there is a need for this in every community and it’s where I am most drawn.
So that’s my reinvention/expansion list for 2016 and I am pumped. I’m leaving a lot behind – maybe permanently, maybe temporarily. But what has me excited the most is the OPENING UP and ALLOWING.
I urge you to not think only about goals you feel you have to do for 2016. Think about your own reinvention. Think about what you want your life to look like – what happiness and contentment mean to you – what you want to do for YOU so you can expand into a life that fills you up instead of sucking you dry.
Pursue you. You’re soooo worth it. And, if you need some help with jumping into your reinvention, transition and transformation, check out these resources:
- The Mega Reinvention 2016 online video conference, is taking place January 2nd-31st, 2016 at convenient, non-working times of day. This program is geared primarily to Boomer and Gen Xrs who are seeking a career or life pivot because they are unhappy, unfulfilled, have aspirations to do something else, or want to invent a new lifestyle for retirement. Our retirement looks nothing like our parent’s retirement and there’s a whole lot of time for creating a whole new you. This could be your kickstart! To sweeten the pot, here’s a deal for you – a coupon code worth 50% off the ticket price. Read more about the conference. When you go to the registration page, be sure to use Coupon Code HTRW4321 for your savings. I’ll be leading a panel discussion at one of the sessions, so I’ll see you there!
- Even AARP knows that the group of people who are looking at slowing down or retiring are not like their parents. According to one of their surveys, 65% of Americans ages 40-59 say they expect to be more active at 60-plus than their parents were. 50% of folks 40-59 say they are missing something in their lives, and 21 million U.S. residents 50-70 are preparing to pursue an encore career. AARP has developed Life Reimagined, a program to help you create your brightest future around work, well-being, and relationships. You can live the life you’ve always wanted – check it out.
Let me hear from you – what’s bubbling to the surface for you? What part of you is begging for your attention? I think we can encourage each other along the way, so let’s keep figuring this out!
It’s a whole new year. And, it’s a whole new world for us.