I Just Keep On Dancing

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I truly believe that the majority of people are trying to do the right thing to accomplish what they believe is in the best interest of everyone.

I also know that everyone has a different perspective. A childhood friend and I were talking yesterday about a situation I’m navigating. He related it to lesson he learned from his wife. When a pigeon poops on your car, you don’t get mad at the pigeon. The pigeon is just being a pigeon and going about pigeon business. So, the next time someone poops on you (hopefully just figuratively) remember, they’re just being a pigeon. Most likely, they mean no harm.

It also helps because sometimes I feel sad and exhausted from all of it. That also sucks, because I like to smile and laugh and love making others do the same. But I’ve also learned that it’s a lot healthier for me to sometimes cry, to be sad, to let it out and to be outraged by the unfairness of it all.

After I’m done with that, I just turn on some nice tunes, find my center again, thank God for all that I have, hug my boys, remember that pigeons are just pigeons and I keep on walking and dancing. Eventually these thunderstorms will pass (and with any luck the pigeons will migrate to other areas).

Song: “Keep On Dancin'” Ellie Goulding

Rumor Has It

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I think Adele may have a song for every occasion.

Going through a breakup or a divorce is inexplicably difficult and unless you’ve personally experienced one, it’s nearly impossible to truly understand the stages of healing and the challenges presented.
One of these challenges is experiencing it under the glaring eye of gossiping neighbors and acquaintances that stalk your Facebook page trying to dissect your every move and then discuss it as if they’re your best friend.

I know this happens because the lives of my friends who have recently divorced often come up in conversation, as if this is something I have a desire to discuss. I’m positive this means that my divorce and love life are discussed behind my back. Very few of these people will actually go to the source and ask how the person is doing, they prefer to get their information third hand from a friend of a friend.

More than likely the person being discussed would love for you to reach out to them and share your genuine concern for their well-being. Instead, a game of telephone ensues with inaccurate information and half-truths spread around the town. People don’t realize the impact they have on influencing other people’s opinions.

In most cases, there are children involved that can hear rumblings on the playground of what they heard in their own kitchens over family dinner. Perhaps their own insecurities or lack of excitement in their lives leaves them with nothing better to talk about, until the next divorce happens.

Believe me, those of us that have been through these tough times would love to post as our status:  “Yes, I’m divorced. Yes, it’s difficult and it sucks. My family has had struggles, but we’re going to be just fine. If you have questions, please ask me directly!”

You will never be able to control what people say about you or combat rumors and misinformation. You can only live your life to the fullest and only concern yourself with the true and genuine people that have proven their steadfast friendship over time.

Sometimes you will get burned by people you trusted. Unfortunately this is the reality of any relationship. People are human and will inevitably hurt one another and won’t always share your morals and values.
In the end, these situations only make us stronger, more empathetic and dedicated to those we care about.

Leslie

We Are Family

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Today is Father’s Day and I spent the entire day reconnecting with my dad. We live in different cities and only see each other a few times a year (more now that I’m single).

He’s not a big communicator. He doesn’t like to talk on the phone and my texts have to end with a question that requires a yes or no answer. So, it’s only in those face-to-face moments that we really get to reconnect. It serves as a reminder of how much I love him, miss him and need to spend more time with him.

I had a million things on my to-do list to get done this weekend. Instead, I slowed down and focused on my dad. We lunched and laughed. We went to my son’s hockey thing. Then we drove down to Zilker Botanical Gardens and literally stopped to smell the flowers, to watch a hummingbird and to take a picture of a turtle and a piece of wood because the texture of it caught his eye.

For as long as I can remember, my dad has loved taking pictures. One of my earliest memories is running through grass as tall as I was, trying to catch butterflies while he took pictures of it.

After dinner and a shared pizookie, we came back home and talked of past relationships, crushing heartbreaks and how beautiful the world really is. We laughed and cried (okay, I cried and he remained at that 30,000 foot level of ‘that’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes’). My dad’s all-in, never ending love for my mother (who died 34 years ago btw) is why I still believe in true, giddy, can’t-get-you-out-of-my-head love. It’s inspiring, it’s touching and it’s heartbreaking.

Yet he stops to smell the flowers and enjoy the beauty in small things. He looks for the good in people. He’s patient and kind. He’s quiet. I used to spend hours with him in his darkroom while he developed pictures. Using very few words, he showed me how to develop pictures (not that he can’t tell a long (oy-vey) story when he’s passionate about something). He’s pretty methodical and takes things slow. He’s in his own head a lot. He thinks, then speaks.

He also knows how to be silly and sing out loud in public. He loves music and we’ve always listened to the radio and sang together. It doesn’t matter if you’re in or out of tune, just that you love the music and can feel it. He bought me my first album and many after that.

Someone recently asked me what I’m looking for in my next partner. I would have to say I’m looking for someone with more of the same qualities as my dad. My ex was nothing like my dad and that’s a life-lesson for me. My dad will also tell me I don’t need a “next partner” which is one of the many things I love about him.

My family doesn’t do drama. We don’t have family feuds. We live and let live. We’re independent. We love God. We forgive. We turn the other cheek. We love. We laugh. We play silly games. We laugh some more. We sing. We dance. We’re a fairly quiet bunch (unless there’s a football game on, or we need to bust into song). We cook together. We eat together. We’re inclusive. If you don’t have a place to go for Thanksgiving, we’ll make room for you at our table. We’re curious. Most of us ask a lot of questions.

Before my dad left, he got on the ground and looked under my car to finish his diagnosis of all of the things I need to fix. He wished he was 20 years younger so he could fix it himself.

I wish he was 20 years younger too, but not so he can fix my car. My family lives a very long time, but it’s never really long enough and I’ll always want my dad to remind me of who I am when I need reminding and for when it’s time to slow down and smell the flowers.

Happy Father’s Day dad, I’m proud to be your daughter.

I’ll Be There For You

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People ask frequently how I cope. One of the ways I cope is through an incredible support system – my tribe. My solid, bad ass group of girlfriends. They show up, get things done and have my back. It is the most inspiring and heart-warming thing I’ve ever experienced.

Songs about this are as long as my arm. When you’re going through a divorce, you need your tribe. You may instinctively know who these people are in your life. You may even be surprised at who all ends up in your corner.

Whether you initiated the divorce or it was thrust upon you, you will need these people as you navigate this very muddy minefield. These girls will give you a shoulder to cry on, say what a **** he is, drink with you, chill with you, go out with you, make plans for you, plan an entire birthday month of parties, spend the night with you curled up on the couch, pull you out of the house when you feel like binge watching Netflix, open her house up to you and your kids in the middle of the night, laugh hysterically when it takes the two of you an hour and several household tools to open a bottle of wine, and close up like a vault when your name comes up during youth sports or PTA meetings.

These women are your lifeline during this very crappy and sucky process. You need them. You’ve been there for them (or you will be when the time comes) and they know this. They know you. They know your strengths and your weaknesses (e.g. oatmeal raisin cookies that they will stock their homes with and whip up a fresh batch with “I love you” notes). They will not let you fall or fail. They will stand by you. They love you.

Let them love you during this time. It isn’t weakness to talk to them, vent, cry, laugh-whatever you need. Everyone processes this differently. Some let all of their emotions out and cry or vent. I wanted to squash it all and put it in a box to deal with at some other time in the very distant future. Coming out on the other side, I can see that each have their value and place. I’ve learned to cry with my friends and do a bit of venting as well.

Just remember during this process that they are your friends and not your therapist. Yes, they will fulfill that role at times, but be sure you are having fun with them too. Be sure to ask them how they are and have those typical conversations you had before your life was turned on its head.

After the initial shock wore off, I didn’t want to discuss my ex or situation when I hung out with my friends. Yes, I’d give a general update about where things stood, but I had those thoughts in my head enough. I wanted to know about their lives. I wanted to have fun with them like we always had. I didn’t need to relive every bad thing he said or did. Saving full-on gripe sessions for your therapist allows you to focus on your friendship with your friends. No one wants to hear about your issues over and over. You know the friend who always complains? Don’t be that friend.

If you don’t have a group of friends like this, go find some. Seriously. I have a girlfriend in Dallas who joined MeetUp and found women in similar situations. They bonded. They’re still good friends.

You also need to understand that you aren’t a good friend right now. That’s okay, but eventually, you’ll need to move on to the next phase and go back to being there for your girls as well.

Goodbye to You

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Someone asked me recently what my playlist was when I was going through my divorce. I really had two different lists going. One when I was deciding to leave and one during the divorce. A lot of the songs overlapped, but it included the typical

  • Gives You Hell, All American Rejects (I sang the heck out of this at karaoke with the girls during this time.)
  • Happy Ending, Avril Lavigne
  • Single Ladies, Beyonce
  • Before He Cheats, Carrie Underwood
  • Forget You, CeeLo Green
  • Survivor, Destiny’s Child (this fueled many runs)
  • Independent Women, Destiny’s Child
  • Goodbye Earl, Dixie Chicks
  • I Will Survive, Gloria Gaynor
  • Roar, Katy Perry
  • Not Tonight, Lil Kim
  • Independence Day, Martina McBride
  • So What, Pink (this one too)
  • U + Ur Hand, Pink
  • F**kin’ Perfect, Pink
  • I’m Free, The Soup Dragons (this was on a fairly constant repeat, good thing it wasn’t vinyl)

And the not so typical:

  • Lady Marmalade – Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Pink, etc.
  • What a Girl Wants – Christina Aguilera
  • Hazy Shade of Winter, The Bangles
  • I Gotta Feeling, The Black Eyed Peas
  • Run It! Chris Brown
  • Rumors, Club Nouveau
  • With a Little Help From My Friends, Joe Cocker
  • Mr. Jones, Counting Crows
  • Jenny Says, Cowboy Mouth
  • Friday, I’m in Love, The Cure
  • Bless the Broken Road, Rascal Flatts
  • Times Like These, Foo Fighters
  • Hemorrhage, Fuel
  • Bittersweet, Fuel
  • Kiling Me Softly, Fugees
  • Army, Elle Goulding
  • Live Like You Were Dying, Tim McGraw
  • Nice to Know You, Incubus
  • The Way You Move, Ne-Yo
  • Once, Pearl Jam
  • Better Man, Pearl Jam
  • Goodbye to You, Scandal
  • Waterfalls, TLC
  • No Scrubs, TLC

But what I really curled up with was:

  • The Rose, Bette Midler
  • Wind Beneath My Wings, Bette Midler
  • I Hope You Dance, Lee Ann Womack

Each of those last songs has a special place and meaning in my heart. They each take me to a different place. I don’t necessarily recommend them (and frankly some of the ones above either) for getting through a divorce in general, but they helped me through mine. The last three songs don’t have anything to do with my children’s father and I think that is key for whichever songs you pick to help motivate you to that next phase in your life.