It’s been one year since our divorce was granted. Recently, when I was looking through greeting cards at Walgreen’s, it occurred to me that there are no cards for acknowledging that benchmark in your life. There are Happy Anniversary cards that celebrate another year of making it in a marriage– but nothing to note the effort it takes to move away from being a couple to making it on your own.
Last year on November 20th, the day our papers were in front of an Orange County judge, I was at a loss for how you conduct yourself the day of your divorce. In my post on Nov. 21, 2020 When It’s Over I described my day of moping, then reflecting, then moving forward by having a ceremony to mark that event. Seemed to me that when you lost a marriage you should have some sort of ritual to honor that married life and then bury it so you could move forward.
Once a friend who’d known me for a long time, made an observation that comes to mind now:
“You know, Connie you just go through life, achieve your goals– but you don’t take time to celebrate your accomplishments,” she said. “You move on to the next thing.”
She was right; I had done that and now I want to slow down and change that automatic behavior. But I’d rather not do this by myself.
I don’t want this post to just be about me. All of us have situations that deserve thinking about and looking closely at what we’ve accomplished, what part that event played in our life, how it formed us or took us in a new direction. I invite you to join me in taking time to reflect on that.
Looking back over the year since my divorce, I’ve had to try out some new behaviors to move in a different direction. In the post New Beginnings: Flying Lessons I compared my experience to a baby bird learning how to fly:
“Young eagles learn how to fly from their parents and by practicing near their nest. One of the main ways they practice is by spreading their wings and jumping to a nearby branch. Watching an adult fly and copying all the moves — taking off, flapping, gliding, landing, and perching — helps the young birds get it right. Without a safe place to learn and lessons in flight, an eagle won’t learn how to fly.“
For me, the steps have been making my own personal financial/ business decisions, dating for the first time since I was twenty-two and blogging about those experiences, taking more risks in advancing my dancing skills and enlarging my dance community. Those are the areas that have consumed my focus, and at times, exhausted my energy. Looking back at the Flying Lessons post, I see that I have pushed through much of the awkwardness, the hesitancy:
“Now that I’m trying to figure out how to be in this new world, I ponder how it is to take flight. I have been hesitant of heights–whether literal or figurative; that comes out of my fear of falling. Every other juncture I’ve had in life that required major change came with a feeling of fear of the unknown. It required moving across the threshold, bearing the awkwardness of those first steps, keeping on until the steps became more familiar, and finally— making those steps more skillful, more of my own style.”
There have been many awkward steps, but it seems that the only thing to do is to keep stepping forward.
I wonder, have you had areas in your life over the past year where you have been in that awkward stage of a new beginning? In what areas can you see forward movement– taking steps until things became more familiar, more skillful, more your own style?
I like that last part about “making those steps more skillful, more of my own style.” When I wrote those words in that July post, I didn’t realize that it would refer to actual steps as well as figurative ones. My path has led me to focus on my West Coast Swing dancing–even taking some private lessons. It’s a hard dance, one that I don’t catch on to quickly— as my partners and instructors know!
Getting in better physical shape helped prepare me to put myself out there; that impetus to do that came from “Gabe” a guy that I described in the post on September 12, Attractive and Athletic: Online Dating. He’d made me consider what it is to be athletic at my age:
“The week before we were to meet, I kept thinking about his interest in an athletic woman. I danced– or at least I had before the pandemic shut things down. Many weeks, I’d attend two dances as well as take lessons. I walked every day and did aerobic workouts with hand-held weights.
But that’s not an athlete, I thought; That’s just being active. What does it mean to be an athlete when you’re 65 years old– my age when I met Gabe. Did you have to run triathlons in the Senior games, or take up kick boxing, or play competitive tennis? I felt totally inadequate just thinking about what it would take to move from active to athlete.
After meeting Gabe, I started increasing my workout. I added cautious jogging– not wanting to mess up my dancing legs. Over the past year, I’ve advanced from twenty minutes of intermittent, walking-jogging 3 times/week to 58 minutes mostly jogging 3x/week. I’ve increased the pounds in those hand-held weights and increased the vigor of those 30 minute sessions. Meanwhile, I’ve continued to follow a diet that allows a woman of my age to drop pounds. Since I met with Gabe last year, I’ve lost fifteen pounds and developed more muscle tone and stamina.
Recently, I had a conversation with my fifty-eight year old friend and dance partner about my struggle with the active versus athletic view of myself. He let me know that he would consider me athletic given how I want to dance every dance and not sit down! If it weren’t for having to wear a mask, I wouldn’t be winded even with the fast dances that I love. Thank You, Gabe for pushing me to become athletic, more fit and now, more confident.
I wonder, has someone or something pushed you to step out of your comfort zone and become a better version of yourself over this past year?
Since last November, some of my struggle has been the challenges of dating. I’ve focused on figuring out who is right for me, on “not settling” out of insecurity or being worn down from the process. This awareness came to me:
“I can’t be less than who I’m intended to be.”
It’s been my hope and my prayer since the divorce for God to transform my life, to use this time for good. In this week before Thanksgiving, it’s the perfect opportunity to reflect on how that transformation has manifested in my life– in ways I can see, and in others that aren’t apparent to me at this time.
I invite you to look at your life and consider areas that are being transformed, ways that you’re growing into who you’re intended to be. Together, with growing Thankfulness in our hearts, we can stay in this space before we rush ahead, celebrating those things that are being accomplished, those challenges we’re facing, the confidence that is growing inside.