Starting Over Single with “T”

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We’re moving toward the end of the alphabet with our series for Starting Over Single. Let’s look at some important “T” words.letter-t

Truth

Now that several months – even years – have passed since we started this journey, we can look back and think about truth.

For many of us, the truth was skewed in several ways: through spiritual abuse – twisting the Bible to say something it was never intended to say or spiritual authorities telling us we HAD to stay with an abuser.

Your truth may have been twisted by a manipulating spouse who tried to make you feel as if everything was your fault.

Sometimes we need to examine the truth for our own growth. What were some ways you and I could have made the situation better? Did we live in denial for several years, refusing to see the truth because it was too painful?

One of my clients lists “Truth” as her top core value. She now focuses her entire life around the topic of truth and she refuses to associate with anyone who will not live in truth. She wants the rest of her life – going forward – to reflect what is true and what brings her integrity.

Looking back, maybe you can see some of your personal scenario wrapped in exaggeration or even a lie. This is the time to examine your heart and make sure you are telling the truth – to yourself and to others.

It is harder to tell ourselves the truth. When I realized my entire marriage was a lie, that truth emotionally set me back for a while. But it also helped move me into a new level of healing.

So examine your own truths and remember one truth that will never falter: God loves you and has a good plan for your life. He will NEVER abandon you or reject you.

Tranquility

This seems like a rather old-fashioned word, but it can have a special meaning to women who are Starting Over Single.

Some of the synonyms for tranquility include: calm, peacefulness, serenity, harmony and composure.

One of the ways you can surround yourself with tranquility is to downsize and declutter. Many of us must downsize when we sell the divorce house, and at first – it may seem difficult and bring to mind painful memories.

But after a time, we can see the value of starting over, getting rid of anything that causes pain and having the freedom to make our own choices.

Give away the wedding china and find some dishes you like. Trade in the bed of betrayal for a new bedroom suite – something that gives you special joy. Sell or pawn the wedding band and buy yourself some new bling.

Surround yourself with essential oils such as lavender that help you sleep and feel more tranquil. Redecorate in calming colors and get rid of trashy dead plants. Pack away the wedding album so your children can have it someday, but refuse to allow yourself sad thoughts about that day. Give your wedding dress to a school drama club or sell it for consignment and use the money to bless a single mom.

Whenever you decide about an activity, ask yourself “Will this add serenity to my life or will it add stress?”

Avoid anything that adds stress.

Enjoy your new life and live in the tranquility of peace. You’re heading in a new direction, and it’s going to be good.

Trust

Many of us will experience trust issues as we Start Over Single.

A man has hurt us, so it is easy to assume other men will do the same. And of course, we need to be careful about beginning any relationship that isn’t safe. Check out this resource: Safe People

We cannot blame all men because of the failure of a few, and we cannot blame all church leaders because of the abuse of some.

This is the time to build our hearts toward a new and smarter level of trust. Being able to recognize the truth will help us as well as being proactive with current relationships.

Before you get serious about another relationship, check him out. Websites will help you determine if he is a sex predator, if he has been arrested for domestic violence or driving under the influence. In the Kansas City area, here’s an important website for background checks: www.jococourts.org.

By this time, you also know which of your former friends have proven to be toxic. They may have decided to abandon you, and it still hurts.

But now you know the truth about who they are. So don’t let that truth scar you or isolate you against future relationships.

Get involved with a different group of people. Take a craft class or renew your membership to a fitness program. Call another woman who is Starting Over Single and go to a movie together.

Begin to trust someone else and build on the truth.

It may be difficult to find another church you can trust, but many good churches still exist and many church leaders are NOT spiritual abusers. Check out their websites for programs involving single women or single moms. Then start visiting.

In most churches, you’ll find some great people. They may believe a bit differently than you, but you are changing, too. Perhaps God has an entirely new spiritual family for you.

Move forward with joy as you examine the truth and live a more tranquil life. Then learn to trust your own instincts and find others you can connect with to build trusting relationships.

How have you learned to trust again?

©2016 Starting Over Single

Starting Over Single with “S”

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letter-sThe “S” words that continue our alphabet series fit in nicely with this time of the year – November and the approaching holidays.

Seasons

We often think of seasons as the natural movement from winter to spring to summer to fall. Most of us have a favorite season because of the temperature and/or the colors and textures in nature.

But some of the most important seasons of life are the ones we go through as a result of circumstances and the aging process.

We live through the season of adolescence which is awkward and uncomfortable although sometimes a bit interesting.

The season of education when we finish high school and maybe pursue a higher level of learning. Usually during college or soon after, many of us will enter the season of marriage which often includes the seasons of having babies, buying a home, advancing in our careers, et cetera.

Now we have entered and are working through the season of divorce. Sometimes it feels as if this season will continue forever, but it is still only a season.

Seasons have a beginning and also an ending. Someday we will reach the end of this journey when we will know we are healed. We will move into the next season of joy, empowerment and personal significance.

Our next season will be richer because we have learned more about ourselves and we are able to help other women who are at the beginning of the divorce season.

Story

A good story has a beginning, a middle and an ending with several plot lines involving conflict and resolution.

We have begun this story of Starting Over Single with plenty of conflicts and we have learned how to resolve many of them.

Some of us are still slugging through the middle of the mess and it feels as if we are bogged down in all the details. But in a good story, the characters never stay in the middle.

They move toward the ending where it’s either a happily-ever-after, some type of learning experience or a resolution of the mystery.

But whatever is happening, the story is best told when the main character has some type of growth or healing experience.

For each of us, the details of the divorce story are different. But we, as the main characters, are learning more about ourselves and how to deal with future conflicts.

We know how we want our next story to read and what types of characters we will allow into the pages of our lives.

We cannot change the fact that divorce has entered our lives – that piece of the story is now part of our history.

But we can move forward to make the end of the story one of beauty, personal growth and a contentment with life.

Self-Care

Here’s an exercise for you that will illustrate the importance of self-care:

  • On a 3 x 5 card, list all the people you have taken care of within the last 5 years. Include children, husband, friends, even online friends.
  • Then list all the people you estimate you will take care of within the next 10 years. Include any possibility of children marrying and having grandkids, aging parents, siblings with needs and again – even online friends.
  • Count up all those people. You may have hundreds of people on your list, and this may be the reason why you feel tired all the time. It takes an amazing amount of energy to care for others.

Now look at your card. Did you include yourself on either list?

If not, then you’ve forgotten an important person. We cannot truly care for others if we do not care for ourselves.

Self-care is vitally important during and after the Starting Over Single journey and it will look different for every woman.

Maybe your self-care includes:

  • Taking time to read a book
  • Recovery time at the beach or the mountains
  • A good hair cut with a facial at a day spa
  • Scheduling your physical exam
  • A monthly massage and/or manicures and pedicures
  • Your favorite beverage at Starbucks
  • Stretching yoga exercises

The point is … make sure you are adding self-care to your weekly schedule. In fact, you may have to write it in the calendar to remind yourself that YOU are worthwhile and self-care is vital.

To be truly healthy – body, mind and spirit – we need to make sure self-care is a major part of our Starting over Single recovery.

It is NOT selfish. It IS vital so that you can move forward in life and have the energy to care for all those other people on your list.

©2016 Starting Over Single

Starting Over Single with “R”

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As we continue our alphabet series, let’s look at some of the “R” words that affirm our Starting Over Single status.letter-r

Reflection

Especially as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, this is a time for reflection. Perhaps you’re thinking about Thanksgivings of the past and how you enjoyed fixing a big meal, decorating with pumpkins or sharing with grateful hearts around the table.

Your Thanksgiving holiday may look different this year. The in-laws are no longer in the picture and even the visual of past years may bring fresh grief.

Your children may be spending Thanksgiving with the “wasband,” so what’s the point of fixing a big meal just for yourself?

This is the time to reflect. Yes, be grateful for past Thanksgivings and all the blessings you have enjoyed. But don’t get stuck in memories.

Think about all the things you are grateful for now:

  • You’ve made it through another year
  • The Thanksgiving colors are beautiful and hopefully – your vision is clear and you can see the trees with their magnificent leaves
  • Wherever you are in the process, you’re farther along now than you were last year at this time
  • You can pick and choose exactly what you want to wear, what you want to eat and how you want to spend each day
  • What else are you grateful for?

Another type of reflection is to consider how you will move forward. Can you help another woman going through this journey? You now have experience and you know what has worked for you. Pass it on!

Relationships

As we are Starting Over Single, we have a new appreciation for relationships. We know about the toxic ones and we’ve learned a few things about how to avoid them.

A great resource is “Never Go Back” by Dr. Henry Cloud. This book describes 10 things we never want to do again, including getting involved in unhealthy relationships.

You have probably learned about the people you can trust and who are your true friends. Most of us lose a couple of friendships along the journey – former friends who no longer want to associate with someone going through a divorce.

But we’ve also begun to treasure even more the relationships that last – no matter what we’re struggling with. These are the people God has given us to encourage us and sometimes – these are the people who will meet practical needs.

If you have children, this journey will bond you together like nothing else in life. Although you will have struggles and each day is a new adventure, when you look back from the vantage point of time – you will see how precious and strong the relationship is with your children.

It is a proven fact that children will be angrier with the mother than with the father. They will act out in ways against you that they will not do with Disney Dad.

This is because they know deep in their little hearts Mommy will always and forever love them. So it is safe to be angry, to be honest and to test the waters of relationship with you.

That makes it tough, especially with little boys who have a harder struggle with change. But once you make it through those first years of post-divorce, setting healthy boundaries and always assuring your children of your love for them – that bond will be amazingly strong.

I look at my grown son now and I am so grateful for our relationship. We have moved into the friendship phase, and we can talk about any subject with honesty and respect for our differences. He is an amazing young man.

Your children will also survive and give you joy in the coming years.

Another relationship is a treasure and that is the divine One. God will never leave you and never abandon you. He is always present. You’ve probably experienced an even closer relationship with him than ever before – a rich treasure of knowing him and relying on him that other people can’t even begin to fathom.

So hang on to the relationships that count, to the ones you can depend on and be grateful God has placed these people in your life.

Resolution

We often think of resolutions for the new year, but I like to consider how we can resolve to move forward.

I resolve to most past any bitterness of what was done to me and find joy in total forgiveness.

I resolve to help as many women as possible when they are Starting Over Single.

I resolve to make this new year even better than the next by doing my part to grow and succeed.

I resolve to embrace healthy relationships and not shut myself off from others just because some people have been cruel to me.

I resolve to live by my core values and set healthy boundaries around what I will do and what I will accept into my life.

I resolve to work at my craft of writing so my words are a blessing to others.

I resolve to continue as a life-long learner so my coaching clients will experience the success of reaching their goals.

I resolve to eat healthy, think good thoughts and take care of my soul. Total health involves body, soul and spirit.

What about you? Any special resolutions you can think of? Make a list and journal through them, reflecting on what is truly important to you. Then embrace this Thanksgiving season with a heart full of gratitude.

©2016 Starting Over Single

Starting Over Single with “Q”

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It’s always a challenge to find words that begin with Q but we did it!letter-q

Quality

This word conjures up so many possibilities. Now that we are Starting Over Single, the quality of life has changed – in many ways – for the better.

We are no longer living within manipulative behaviors and the fear that attaches like a manacle. Our quality of life has improved and now we are moving forward with joy.

Once we’ve moved through the crisis, the quality of health will also improve. We won’t gain or lose weight as a result of divorce stress. Now we can focus on good nutrition, better habits and eating real food instead of dead food.

Quality also plays in with the stuff of life. In the before divorce life, we may have surrounded ourselves with stuff, trying to comfort that place inside that hurt so deeply.

Now we can declutter and remove anything connected to the painful past. This is the time to go through every room, every drawer, every closet. Whatever you find that does NOT give you joy, either give it away or throw it away.

Surround yourself with quality stuff that energizes you and pleases you. The dishware you want for this new life, the colors you want to decorate your new space, the jewelry that represents you.

Fill your Starting Over Single life with quality and enjoy the emotional freedom of just being you.

Quiet

If you’re still raising little ones, your quiet time is limited and you have to set firm boundaries just to find some alone time.

But if you’ve finished raising kids, now is a precious time for solitude and quiet. This is the season to sit down with your journal, a steaming cup of your favorite beverage and your favorite pen. Write, reflect and learn.

Go to the library and check out books you’ve been longing to read. Fill your mind with quality words and phrases. Learn from the experts. Discover other strong women through biographies.

Spend quiet time with your Bible. Journal your prayers or write letters to God.

This may also be the time for you to continue the grieving process. Grieving in a healthy way will help to unload any baggage or leftover pain.

And use your quiet time to listen carefully for that inner voice, the divine whisper who will guide you in new directions.

The prophet Isaiah said it best, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength” (Isaiah 30:15).

So enjoy this quiet time. Turn off the electronics and rediscover the beauty of solitude. Love being alone with God and find your strength within the quiet place.

Questions

The process of Starting Over Single brings several realistic questions:

  • Who am I now?
  • What should I do with my life now?
  • How can I best use this time of being single?

Other questions might reverberate around the issues of where to live, how to manage finances alone and how to deal with holiday stress.

But the bigger questions revolve around identity – who we are and what our new focus should be.

For my SOS coaching clients, we work through a core values assessment. We ask the hard questions and dig deep to find the top five core values for this season in life.

Then we dig even deeper and discover the one umbrella core value that covers our lives and our direction. Everything else is covered by that one specific value and all our future decisions will need to be in sync with our five core values.

This is such a wonderful a-ha exercise, I wish I could share it with the entire world of women. But it’s also a highly personal assessment. Sometimes we discover our true selves have been hidden for years underneath the heavy blanket of a destructive relationship.

So we work through that grief process, too, and leave the past behind. We move toward our new identities and discover the wonderfully unique women God has created us to be.

If you’d like to consider going through this assessment with a certified coach, contact me at GateWay of Hope or email me at rebeccat@gwhope.org.

In the meantime, check out these resources that can help you find your new identity:

The Search for Significance” by Robert S. McGee

Excavating Your Authentic Self” by Sarah Ban Breathnach

The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown

As you answer the questions that stir deeply in your soul, you will discover the quality of your new self. And in the quiet place, you will know God has never ever stopped loving you.

©2016  Starting Over Single

Starting Over Single with “P”

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letter-pThe letter “P” has so many possibilities for our Starting Over Single series, it’s difficult to choose just a few words. But let’s start with one of the most important concepts we can learn in life.

Patience

I will admit, this is one of the lessons I am constantly having to learn – to wait, to let the seasons of life and the benefits of wisdom catch up to me – to learn how to be patient.

But I can see some growth in my soul, and I’m sure you have learned some lessons about patience, too.

The process of going through divorce requires patience as we wait for paperwork to be completed, phone calls to be returned, legal matters solved, household goods divided and sold, custody agreements to be resolved.

If we try to rush any of these things, we may lose the advantage or even some of the financial benefits we need.

It’s better to stop, breathe and wait for the process to happen.

Another way to learn patience is to not rush through recovery. I tried to recover too fast and bought a house too soon. I needed to wait for the right property and a lower interest rate, but I was ready to move forward.

A bit more patience would have resulted in a better deal.

Sometimes we also want to rush the grieving process. We say, “I should be over him by now. It’s been two years, and I still have nightmares.”

Or “I should have recovered by this time. I still cry on the anniversary date.”

Shoulding ourselves never works out well. We can gift ourselves with patience – however much time that requires – to totally heal and to completely recover.

Patience is a virtue – one of the most important core values we can own. So let’s be patient with the process and give ourselves grace as we move forward.

Promise

We’re looking at this word differently now, because someone who promised us the happily-ever-after life did not keep his promise.

But let’s not dwell on the past or on the negatives of yesterday. Let’s look forward and think about the promise of today and tomorrow.

When God makes promises, he always keeps them. “Do not fear, for you will not be put to shame, and do not feel humiliated or ashamed, for you will not be disgraced. For you will forget the shame of your youth, and you will no longer remember the disgrace of your widowhood” (Isaiah 54:4 Amplified Bible).

Any shame you have felt because of the divorce is already covered and done – because God has made a promise to you.

Any humiliation someone tried to pin on you is a lie. Anybody who said something ugly to you because you’re now a single mom – that person is toxic. Delete him or her from your life. Set healthy boundaries around your heart.

As you draw closer to God while you’re Starting Over Single, you’ll probably discover some personal promises he has designed especially for you.

God promised that he would meet every need for my son and me, and he has done that. Every. Single. Need.

He promises that he has a good plan for our lives. That good plan has not disappeared, and someday you’ll see it become reality.   woman-worship

Another promise he makes, still in Isaiah 54, is that he will take care of your children. “All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace” (Isaiah 54:13).

We worry about our children and how they will deal with the divorce, but anyone who tries to pin humiliation on your children is not living in the grace of God.

Yes, our children will have to work through the emotions and the fallout, but they can emerge stronger and better because they’ve had to trust you and God to help them through it.

Hold God to the promises he has made to you. He keeps them – always.

Power

The journey of Starting Over Single teaches us about the power we have to become the women God created us to be.

We can make wiser choices than ever before and watch the side effects of divorce disappear. Every time we use our money wisely – saving, investing and culling out what is unnecessary – it gives us power for the future.

When we go back to school or start our own business or move away from toxic relationships, we gain more power over our tomorrows.

As we journey through the forgiveness process – which may take a lifetime – we learn more about the power of grace and the compassion of Christ.

As we change and grow, we become more empowered to be who we were made to be. We step into our new identity and enjoy being with ourselves. Living alone is no longer scary but proof that we CAN do this single life and do it well.

Single women are becoming a force in our world, a corps of powerful women who use their giftings to help the poor, save animals, raise the next generation and run for political office at all levels.

We are becoming pastors and politicians, mothers and grandmothers, mentors and disciplers, coaches and counselors. We are no longer just defined as a “wife” and we are certainly not going to EVER live under the shadow of being a “victim.”

So enjoy your newfound power and use it for the good. Then share with the rest of us…what have you learned about patience, promise and power?

©2016 Starting Over Single

Starting Over Single with “O”

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Let’s think about some powerful “O” words for Starting Over Single.letter-o

Optimism

Now that we’re post-divorce, this is the time for an optimistic outlook. We’ve made it through all the grunge work and we’ve completed a mound of paperwork.

We’ve reworked the budget, so we know exactly how much we need to live on. Even if we’ve had to make some financial sacrifices, we are moving toward paying off debts, rebuilding our savings accounts and possibly buying a new house.

We’ve also worked through some of the difficult emotions of the divorce, vented our guts out with the counselor and set healthy boundaries around our hearts.

We have set goals for this new season of life and we are marching forward with a determined mindset – we will be happier now. We will begin to thrive and not just survive.

Although we know life will still have its bumpy days, we’ve come through hell on earth. God has helped us through it and we’re still breathing. It will be okay.

We’ve learned to define our new normal for life, and we know we can conquer the challenges we never even imagined before the divorce.

And…since we’ve learned so much about ourselves and how to deal with life, we’re beginning to plan for how we can help other women who are struggling.

  • Offer to lead a Bible study at church
  • Begin a support group at home
  • Work toward a certification in Coaching or Counseling
  • Develop a blog and gain followers who need some practical info about being single
  • Start a book club with the single women at work
  • Schedule a coffee date with that young mom who’s having a tough time
  • Sit with the other divorced women at church so nobody feels alone

This is the time to think creatively and use your new-found optimism for the good of others. As you have been helped by other women, you can now pass it on.

Originality

This is the time to use our originality to be as creative as possible. One of the fun things I did was to redesign my bedroom.

I knew the “marital” bed had to go so I gave him that old mattress and switched the guest room mattress to my bed. After I sold the divorce house, my son and I moved to a beautiful townhome where we could heal emotionally. I bought all new bedding and for the first time in a long time – I slept deeply through the night.

Although I was working another job, I decided to create my own business and use my communications skills. So Do It Write was born, an editorial service that has since become a coaching and speaking outlet at writers conferences.

Then I started my blog at RJThesman.net and later, this blog at StartingOverSingle.com. Both of these original ideas morphed into ways to help other women who were Starting Over Single and to offer Hope When Life Unravels. Both of these blogs include books I’ve written and more ideas for future books.

Another part of being original for me was to learn more about decorating. I’ve enjoyed starting over with my own ideas of colors, textures and placement. I watch some of the design shows and I try to make my living space as comfortable as possible so that it defines me.

Now that your identity has changed, you can do anything creative you want to do. Although some people don’t see themselves as creative, we all DO have a piece of creativity within us.

Since God created us in his image and he IS the creator – it follows that we are also creative. He gave us wheat, and we made bread. He gave us plants and we made salad bars. He gave us color so we learn to paint, decorate, crochet or do any number of things that include color.

So … don’t wait any longer. Use that originality and create something beautiful just for you. Then share it with someone else.

Overcomer

Pat yourself on the back for being an overcomer. You’ve been through a lot of stuff and you’ve survived it. You have overcome the pain of being betrayed and/or abuses of all kinds. You’ve moved past the shock of it all and learned how to grieve in healthy ways.

You have become an overcomer.

This fabulous song by Mandisa reminds us how God holds us up and helps us become overcomers.

Whenever this song comes on the radio, I crank it up and sing it fortissimo. I don’t care what people in the other cars at the stoplight think, I’m letting go with the truth.

Another encouragement for me has been Psalm 54:4 where God promises to uphold us. He sustains us and keeps us going strong – even when we aren’t aware he is right beside us.

I love the idea of his sustaining power, because I am a pianist. The sustain pedal on the far right keeps the sound going on and on. So even when I’m having a tough day and my life feels discordant, God sustains me. The music of my soul continues, no matter what is happening.

As we Start Over Single and move forward in this next season of life, we can take joy in being the overcomers God has called us to be.

What about you? What are some ways you are developing more originality in your life? How are you developing into an overcomer?

©2016 Starting Over Single

Starting Over Single with “O”

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Let’s think about some powerful “O” words for Starting Over Single.letter-o

Optimism

Now that we’re post-divorce, this is the time for an optimistic outlook. We’ve made it through all the grunge work and we’ve completed a mound of paperwork.

We’ve reworked the budget, so we know exactly how much we need to live on. Even if we’ve had to make some financial sacrifices, we are moving toward paying off debts, rebuilding our savings accounts and possibly buying a new house.

We’ve also worked through some of the difficult emotions of the divorce, vented our guts out with the counselor and set healthy boundaries around our hearts.

We have set goals for this new season of life and we are marching forward with a determined mindset – we will be happier now. We will begin to thrive and not just survive.

Although we know life will still have its bumpy days, we’ve come through hell on earth. God has helped us through it and we’re still breathing. It will be okay.

We’ve learned to define our new normal for life, and we know we can conquer the challenges we never even imagined before the divorce.

And…since we’ve learned so much about ourselves and how to deal with life, we’re beginning to plan for how we can help other women who are struggling.

  • Offer to lead a Bible study at church
  • Begin a support group at home
  • Work toward a certification in Coaching or Counseling
  • Develop a blog and gain followers who need some practical info about being single
  • Start a book club with the single women at work
  • Schedule a coffee date with that young mom who’s having a tough time
  • Sit with the other divorced women at church so nobody feels alone

This is the time to think creatively and use your new-found optimism for the good of others. As you have been helped by other women, you can now pass it on.

Originality

This is the time to use our originality to be as creative as possible. One of the fun things I did was to redesign my bedroom.

I knew the “marital” bed had to go so I gave him that old mattress and switched the guest room mattress to my bed. After I sold the divorce house, my son and I moved to a beautiful townhome where we could emotionally heal. I bought all new bedding and for the first time in a long time – I slept deeply through the night.

Although I was working another job, I decided to create my own business and use my communications skills. So Do It Write was born, an editorial service that has since become a coaching and speaking outlet at writers conferences.

Then I started my blog and later, this blog. Both of these original ideas morphed into ways to help other women Starting Over Single and to offer Hope When Life Unravels. Both of them include books I’ve written and more ideas for future books.

Another piece of my originality was to learn more about decorating. I’ve enjoyed starting over with my own idea of colors, textures and placement. I watch some of the design shows and I try to make my living space as comfortable as possible.

Now that your identity has changed, you can do anything creative you want to do. Although some people don’t see themselves as creative, we all DO have a piece of creativity within us.

Since God created us in his image and he IS the creator – it follows that we are also creative. He gave us wheat, and we made bread. He gave us plants and we made salad bars. He gave us color and we can learn to paint, decorate, crochet or do any number of things that include color.

So … don’t wait any longer. Use that originality and create something beautiful just for you. Then share it with someone else.

Overcomer

Pat yourself on the back for being an overcomer. You’ve been through a lot of stuff and you’ve survived. You have overcome the pain of being betrayed and/or abuses of all kinds. You’ve moved past the shock of it all and learned how to grieve in healthy ways.

You have become an overcomer.

This fabulous song by Mandisa reminds us how God holds us up and helps us become overcomers.

Whenever this song comes on the radio, I crank it up and sing it fortissimo. I don’t care what people in the other cars at the stoplight think, I’m letting go with the truth.

Another encouragement for me has been Psalm 54:4 where God promises to uphold us. He sustains us and keeps us going strong – even when we aren’t aware that he’s right beside us.

I love the idea of his sustaining power, because I am a pianist. The sustain pedal on the far right keeps the sound going on and on. So even when I’m having a tough day and my life feels discordant, God sustains me. The music of my soul continues, no matter what is happening.

So as we Start Over Single and move forward in this next season of life, we can take joy in being the overcomers God has called us to be.

What about you? What are some ways you are developing more originality in your life? How are you becoming an overcomer?

©2016 Starting Over Single

Starting Over Single with “N”

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As we continue our alphabet series, let’s look at the meaty letter of “N.” Lots of possibilities here, but we’ll choose only three key words.letter-n

Necessities

The journey through divorce and the post-divorce decisions force us to ask the question, “What is really essential in my life? What activities are necessary for this new season and what can I delete?”

Some of the once-necessary activities no longer exist. We don’t need to buy Christmas gifts or make birthday cakes for the “wasband.” We don’t need to have that heavy talk about the budget because we now make all the financial decisions.

So what are the necessities we can now focus on? Certainly, if we have children – their needs become the focus of many decisions.

But we also have to think about ourselves and set the healthy boundaries that will help us thrive. Necessities include work, paying bills and fixing meals. But think deeper about the necessities for your soul.

  • Sleeping at least eight hours each night
  • Some form of exercise that you enjoy so you won’t procrastinate
  • Taking an artist date to rekindle that creativity within
  • Spending quality time with yourself – what do you really WANT to do? Yes, that IS a necessity.
  • Finding a support group

One of my coaching clients knows she must surround herself with beauty. So when she moved into the post-divorce house, she hired a designer to help her place everything in the best space. Just that one action gave her hope and helped her return home after a hard day – to find her place of beauty.

Save some money for your own time away. Where do you want to go? A quiet retreat in the mountains or maybe an Italian cuisine tour.

The dream of your heart isn’t just a dream and a wish. It is also a necessity – to help you move forward with joy and find your new normal.

New Normal

Defining your new normal may include a redesign of your core values. What are the values that are most important to you – absolutely vital for this new season of life?

You have learned a great deal and the old core has changed. For example: one of your core values might have been to nurture a happy marriage. Now, you’ll be nurturing yourself as a single woman and finding the best self you can be.

My coaching clients work through a core values assessment and most of them discover that a-ha moment when their new identity begins to surface. Then we craft a mission statement which becomes the focus for their new lives.

Finding your new normal and the creative way you now define yourself will become a goal-setter for you. It will also keep you from making poor decisions because everything will revolve around your new core values. By its design, you’ll have a new set of healthy boundaries.

Next Steps

Keep looking forward and avoid those backward statements such as “I should have….” That sort of belief only leads us into regret and false guilt.

This is the time to make some short-term goals and maybe even some long-term plans. Think about those necessities we discussed and your new normal.

What are the next steps to lead you toward your goals? Do you need to find a life coach to help you stay accountable? Do you need a vision board or a vision journal to help picture visually what you want?

Is this the time to start a new savings account or redefine your budget so you’ll have that dream vacation in the spring?

Now that your necessities have changed, you’ll be saving some money. Find the best method for you to put away a few dollars a week. You’ll be surprised and blessed at the end of the year.

Maybe this is the time for those next steps toward losing the divorce weight or gaining back the pounds you lost. Put together a plan for the exercise process you like best.

Gandhi said, “You may never know what results come of your actions, but if you do nothing, there will be no results.”

So take those next steps and move forward to make your new normal a beautiful season.

©2016  Starting Over Single

Starting Over Single with “M”

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Marching ahead with our alphabet series, let’s look at the letter “M.”letter-m

Motivation

No lazy attitudes allowed for women who are Starting Over Single. That doesn’t mean we can’t relax and have fun, sit and drink a hot cup of chai tea or watch a Hallmark movie – one of the especially sappy ones.

It just means we are more motivated than ever before to achieve what we need to achieve, to accomplish tasks and to move toward our dreams.

It means we believe in taking action to approach our goals and we’re not going to let anyone stop us from acquiring the desires of our hearts.

Some of our motivation stems from the reality of survival skills. Some of it comes from a deep well that is now flowing in a healthy direction – because we don’t have an abusive relationship to stomp on us.

Some motivation flows from healthy accountability partners or a life coach who keeps us clued in to the plans we’ve made.

Most of the time, we’re motivated because we want to be. We enjoy being the Number One Sales Person at work. Or we’ve tasted what it feels like to hold our published books and we want to write another one.

Or we keep thinking about that sweet child we tuck into bed each night. We want to be a good role model for that sticky-with-pancake-syrup boy and that giggly little girl.

We are more motivated than ever before because that’s what Starting Over Single will do for us.

We’re forgetting the past and looking forward to the best future ever.

Money

One of the reasons we may be motivated is because we understand more of the value of money.

We have learned how to budget wisely and we’re saving for that next car, the deposit on a better apartment or even the down payment on a house.

We’re also much smarter now in distinguishing what we need from what we want. We know a bunch of stuff won’t make us happy and we’ve already downsized to a smaller, more economical place.

We’re also saving for the kids’ college funds, because we can’t depend on the “wasband” and whatever child support he might decide to pay.

Thinking about money may put us in danger of living in the past and bringing up regrets such as:

  • Why oh why didn’t I push forward and finish that graduate degree?
  • Why did I believe that wives have to keep joint accounts with their husbands?
  • Why didn’t I start saving a long time ago?
  • Why did I buy all this junk? If I had all that money back, I’d have a nice bundle of money.
  • Why did I overbuy on this house? Now I’m house poor and I can’t sell the thing.
  • Why didn’t I see the financial abuse coming and prepare better for it?
  • Why can’t I seem to get out of this financial hole?

Living in the past and fuming about regrets won’t help. If you find yourself in this self-blame frame of mind, go visit a CPA. Talk to a financial planner. Take a class on budgeting. Look for an accountability partner.

Start now to learn more about how to manage your money and remember – you’re smarter than you think and you CAN get out of this hole. Many of us have done it before you.

Statistics prove that women are better with money than men. I believe in you.

Mini-Retreat

It may seem impossible but a mini-retreat is an absolute necessity when we’re Starting Over Single.

You may need a retreat as you’re finishing with the final papers – just to gather your courage for the final push of finalizing the divorce.

Or several months into the post-divorce journey, you may need to get away and be refreshed for this season of living alone.

Whatever you want to call it – a mini-retreat, a Sabbatical, an emotional getaway – whatever…plan for it, set a date and then do it.

You’ve been through an enormous transition in life. You’ve dealt with some past baggage and let lots of dreams go.

You’ve haggled with the legal system, talked to a mediator, arranged for custody and maintenance, reworked your budget, moved, set up your household in a different place, said goodbye to some friends and possibly your church, redesigned your dreams and now … you’re reinventing yourself.

Sheesh! Anybody who goes through that sort of change needs a break.

If possible, go somewhere completely rejuvenating such as a spa, a resort, a quiet place in the mountains, a sandy beach or wherever you feel most peaceful.

Maybe you just need to check into a hotel for a while. But determine that you’re not going anywhere you have to deal with any sort of crisis.

You might even take a Sabbatical from electronics and only take emergency calls.

During your mini-retreat, journal about your thoughts. Pray. Meditate. Read the Bible or take along a good book. Sleep in. Eat nutritious food but allow yourself an occasional treat. Drink lots of water. Or you may want to fast from all food for a couple of days.

The idea is to get away from the source of the stress to spend time in contemplation and quiet. Solitude is a great healer and all of us need it from time to time.

So take a mini-retreat. If you have children, enlist the help of family and/or friends. It won’t hurt your kids if Mom takes a break.

You’ll be renewed and you may come back with the goal of taking a mini-retreat every few months. It’s good for the soul and will help you move into a new level of healing.

So … where are you planning to go?

©2016 Starting Over Single – Taking Steps Forward to Live Intentionally

Starting Over Single with “L”

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letter-lWe’re almost to the halfway point of our alphabet series. What are some of the “L” words that encourage us as we’re Starting Over Single?

LET

Although it has few letters, “Let” is one of the most important words in the English language. It implies a freedom and independence that can encourage us as we journey through divorce.

“Let” is also a key word in several Bible verses and principles:

  • Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus
  • Let the peace of God rule in your hearts
  • Let us love one another

To “let” means we give ourselves permission for some type of action that will bring about a positive change.

Let yourself think about a vision board. What will your life look like one year from now? Five years from now?

Let yourself have some type of fun once / week.

Let your body take a holy nap on Sundays.

Let yourself relax now that all the legalities are over and you’re on your own.

Let peace wash over you now that you’re away from the abuse.

Let yourself dream about that novel you want to write, about that new car you’re saving for, about the cottage in the country where you want to settle in.

Let yourself believe that life will be better because God has a good plan for you.

Let go of the negatives and focus on the positives of your new life.

LEFTOVERS

As we move forward, a leftover can be something positive to build on.

Although we may have leftover sadness and leftover emotional baggage, we don’t have to focus on the negative aspects of divorce.

What is left over now is the best part of ourselves. We are now free to pursue our true selves and be all God created us to be.

We are left with our incredible children who we can build a bond with, stronger than before. They will grow up to be survivors because of what we have experienced together. The mother-child bond cannot be broken, and the emotional umbilical cord will stretch years down the road.

We have the opportunity now to address any leftover baggage – to begin the forgiveness process. This is a journey with several types of triggers.

But confronting denial and forging ahead, we can soon take those leftovers and make them into something good – a strength and a courage that will serve us well.

Just as we take the leftovers of a meal, chop up the veggies and make a nutritious soup or an omelet with hidden ingredients – so we can chop up the past and use what we have learned to make something even better.

We now have the privilege of using what we have learned – our leftovers – to bless another woman, to mentor a young woman who is going through divorce, to encourage others who are Starting Over Single.

Leftovers can be effective ingredients that build a foundation for the future.

LOVE

You’ve probably read or heard the guideline about jumping into a new relationship. “Give yourself one year for every four years of marriage.”

So if you’ve been married 16 years, divide that by 4. Then wait those four years before you invite a new relationship or give your heart to another man.

Four years? Doesn’t that sound like a long time? Not really.

Most of us will spend about two years going through all the legal sludge and custody arrangements of the divorce.

Most of us will spend another two years in counseling, trying to heal from what happened.

Many of us won’t be ready to even consider another relationship for more than four years, and some of us will completely rule out future relationships with another man.

The scars run deep and the wounds take a while to heal.

Some women will jump into a new relationship too soon, before they’ve had a chance to heal, before they’ve worked on their own core values, before they’ve learned the joy of being independent.

Many of those women either marry the same type of man or look for the exact opposite. Neither course is wise.

Healthy women attract healthy men. And the healthier we are, the easier it is to spot men who are dangerous and deceitful.

We also need to work through our own forgiveness process or we won’t be able to have a healthy new relationship.

We can’t keep blaming all men for the failures of one man. We can’t stereotype one entire gender.

Good men DO exist, and if we wait a while – grow, strengthen our core values and live alone for a while – we’ll know ourselves better and we’ll know what type of man we want.

Then, if we choose, we can step into a new relationship with a clearer focus which will give us a better chance of making it the second time around.

So if you want to find a love that won’t betray you, let yourself work through any leftovers and emerge with a positive outlook for your future.

But in the meantime, learn how to love yourself well. With or without another relationship, loving yourself will help you thrive.

What are some of the leftovers you’re working through?

©2016 Starting Over Single