Exploring Meditation

Meditation has been shown to be helpful for treating depression in clinical studies conducted by mindfulness Hopkins University. In fact, 30 minutes of meditation daily may improve symptoms of anxiety and depression. It’s important to know that meditation only should not replace meds or other treatments for anxiety and depression. In the world of psychology, treatment is multi pronged. Also, what works for one patient, may not work for another.

This John Hopkins study found that “mindfulness meditation”, a form of Buddhist self awareness designed to focus precise, non judgmental attention to the moment at hand–showed promise in alleviating pain symptoms as well as stress.

If you are new to meditation, or have been doing this for a while, a good app to use is Headspace. Headspace offers guided meditation courses, you can customize the length of each meditation session as well.

In the world of personal development, Gabby Bernstein is an excellent coach in meditation. Head over to her website here and download a free guided meditation. Her books are pretty great too. I just finished ‘The Universe Has Your Back’ and loved the advice.

You can meditate anywhere. At home sitting in a chair, at work, on the subway, the possibilities are endless! I usually sit cross legged on the floor. I feel more centered when I am sitting on the ground. Some people light candles, or play music. Whatever gets you focused.

When starting out in meditation, I find that listening and focusing on my breathing helps keep my thoughts from wandering. Close your eyes, breath and just listen. It’s hard since our minds want to wander. But just practice re-directing your thoughts, and pretty soon, you’ll be meditating.

Healing after Divorce

After my divorce was finalized in November 2016, I knew I had to start moving on with my life. I was so tired of drinking, crying and dealing with intense anxiety. I got on google and did research on local therapists, support groups, information on how to be a single parent. I stumbled upon a website called DivorceCare.

DivorceCare is a recovery support group that has locations all over the U.S. These groups meet in churches or other businesses. The group I joined had meetings in a church in Springfield. The group was free, all I had to pay for was the workbook for the 12 week course which was presented on a DVD. So each Sunday evening, I drove with my son to the church. The church had childcare on Sunday evenings due to church service going on the same time as the group meetings. I sat in group with a handful of other people who had either been through the divorce process or were in the midst of divorce. The group was moderated by a couple who had been divorced themselves, who had completed the course and were eager to share their experiences with the group members.

Each meeting on Sunday started with a prayer, a lesson on DVD, and then we discussed the lesson, took notes and shared our own experiences. The lessons focused on what to expect emotionally during divorce, the healing process, how to handle finances and custody of children. We would talk about what was going on with the legal process, venting on custody arrangements, or just sharing emotions were were feeling. At no time during those lessons was religion or doctrine ever pushed on me. It was so calming walking into that church, I felt a sense of peace come over me.

There were people from all walks of life in my group. It was so helpful to me to see that there were other people out there feeling the same way I did. It also gave me perspective on my own situation, since there were people in my group who had it WAY worse than I did with the divorce process. We all can get through this. It is not easy, but it is possible.

Another avenue I explored after my divorce was finalized was seeing a therapist. I was blessed with my job at that time to have an Employee Assistance Program that offered three free visits with a mental health professional. I used those visits with my therapist to discuss coping mechanisms and building confidence to move forward and heal.

I hope this helps you or someone you know going through divorce or trying to heal after the divorce. Please leave a comment below with any other suggestions to others out there.

Check out https://www.divorcecare.org for more information on DivorceCare groups and meeting locations.

The Divorce

See the photo of that woman? Those sad eyes were mine back in August 2016. That was the month I found out I was getting divorced. I remember the day the bomb dropped as if it were yesterday. August 2016, my husband, son and I were just moved back into our house in Fordland, Missouri. We had spent the previous three years in Naples, Florida for my husband’s job. On that particular day, it was morning, I was making a protein shake in a blender bottle. My husband was eating breakfast of eggs and bacon. My son was already at school. “Paula, I have something to say to you”, he said, “I want a divorce, I don’t love you anymore.”

I felt the world fall out from beneath me. I won’t get into specifics right now as to why he wanted the divorce. But I knew from that moment that all of our lives would never be the same again. Those three years we had lived in Naples were difficult for us both emotionally and financially. Three years prior, my husband had graduated with a Masters degree and no job. He found a job in Florida, we packed up all our belongings and moved from Missouri. I started working full time as a medical assistant. Our son had special needs, being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. It was stressful. The entire time we spent in Naples, my husband and I grew apart, talked less, and both became depressed. The move back to Missouri was meant for us to slow down, be near family, and try to fix our struggling marriage.

The few months leading up to that eventful day in August 2016 were filled with revelations, his lies and infidelities. My world was rocked. I wanted us to stay together. Myself being the product of a divorced family, I resolved that I would never divorce. I was resolved to keep my son from being a child shuttled back and forth between homes on weekends, vacations and holidays split between parents. I thought my husband and I were making progress. I thought we were mending our marriage. I was wrong.

The move back to Missouri, I was blessed to find another medical assisting job fairly quickly. And to make things worse, the day I was told about the divorce was two days before my start day at my new job. I was numb for the next couple of days, with our son totally clueless as to what was going on. From that moment forward, my husband refused to touch me, talk to me, or even make eye contact. I felt like I was thrown away, like a hefty garbage bag tossed in a dumpster. My husband threw me away for another woman.

“I’m not paying for any of this.” I said that morning of the divorce bombshell. “If you want this divorce, you are paying for all of it.” I added. My husband did. In short order, the divorce was filed, signed and over within two months. I didn’t have any money, or an attorney, and ended up signing the parenting plan and custody agreement. My husband and I agreed on joint custody. With myself being the custodial parent.

For those two months, my husband and I slept in separate rooms, only communicating when it came to our son’s needs. I spent most of my time in my bedroom, crying and sleeping. After two months, my husband packed up his things, and drove to Naples, Florida to be with the woman he loved. He left me with our son, no advice or help as to find childcare for him before or after school. Thank God for my friends and family, who stepped up to the plate and helped us out. They helped me with childcare so I could go to work on time, helped watch my son on weekends so I could rest.

I was blessed at my new job to have a manager who was completely understanding to my emotional state during the early months of my divorce. I spent my breaks in the bathroom crying and praying for help. I had no idea how to be a single mom, no idea how to live on my own. And outside of work, I was a mess. I drank constantly at night after my son was in bed. I spend hours crying in bed. Morning would come and I would start throwing up due to anxiety. I couldn’t eat. I ended up losing 20 pounds.

But slowly, as the weeks went by, I started healing. It was rough at first. I was so angry and hurt. But slowly and surely, the anger lessened and my son and I fell into a new routine. I started eating normally again. We moved out of the house in Fordland to a duplex in Springfield. I started college again. Things were looking up.

To those of you going through divorce or have been there and are still hurting, know that there is hope at the end of the tunnel. You will get through this. It’s not going to be a quick healing process and it won’t be overnight, but you will get through this. Stay tuned for the next post, I will tell you what I tried to help with the healing process of divorce.

The Comfort Zone

It’s funny how we all fall into the same trap. And I for one am guilty. All my life I wanted to excel and succeed. Funny, all I thought about was success was monetary. I moved back to Florida on that same mission. Get out of a small town, make more money, and really start living life. Funny thing happened along the way, I realized it’s not about the big bucks, the nice clothes, or the title you may have. We all have the ability to succeed, it’s just your choice on how you value success. Let me tell you about a success I had that was out of my realm…. A special moment and realization.

Back in August of last year, I went fishing with my boyfriend at River Breeze Fishing Pier in Oak Hill, FL. This was off the Indian River. This was also the first time I went crabbing. Being a girl from the midwest, I never crabbed in my life. We were also homeless at that time, so fishing was a means for us to eat dinner that night. So we scrapped up whatever cash we had, paid for gas from Orlando, stopped at Wal-Mart and loaded up on raw chicken, crab traps, fishing gear, bottled water and a can of pringles chips.

Once we made it to River Breeze Pier, it was around 5:00pm. It was time to get started fishing. With help, I assembled my first crab trap with chicken and fishing line, threw the trap in the water, and proceeded to wait. I hate waiting. It took all my willpower to wait 20 minutes and not pull up the trap. But finally time was up, I pulled up the trap and found stone crab and Florida blue crab in basket! I was hooked! (No pun intended). I loved crabbing! It was so easy! We then proceeded to catch at least 30 crab within 5 hours.

Wow, if you could only have seen the sunset! The pods of manatees that swam by, the dolphins and the occasional gator, it was amazing. In those few hours, I didn’t care about money, what I was going to do the next day. I just wanted to cherish what was in front of me.

In between all this crabbing, I was actually fishing. Indian River Lagoon had a ton of catfish and whiting.  I did end up catching an awesome red fish, a mangrove snapper, and a puffer fish! The only fish I kept was the snapper and a few whiting. It was now 11pm at night, and time to eat.

River Breeze Pier is part of River Breeze Park. This park had plenty of grills and a place to clean fish near the river. So the fish were cleaned and cooked, and the crabs steamed. This was the best fish and crab I had ever had. You can go to Joe’s Crab Shack, or any other seafood chain, but nothing tastes better than local, fresh fish. We ate outside at a picnic table and I was getting bit all over by mosquitos, but I didn’t care. We were so hungry and happy during that simple moment.

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It’s in those simple moments¬†that we find true happiness, that pure no cost involved joy in life. I was feeling defeated in that time, with being homeless, but that simple lesson of fishing made me feel somewhat empowered.

I challenge yourself, to take yourself out of your comfort zone, whether it be fishing, playing golf for the first time, or just exploring the area in which you live. What is your next challenge?