Inspiration

A late-life divorce can be a catalyst for growth

divorce growth

No matter what you do, or who you are, getting a divorce after 50 is going to impact you emotionally, financially, socially, and legally.  A new life doesn’t just magically appear for you once the old one has been shattered. Recovery and moving on can be a long, slow and painful process.  Decades of memories can be a daily tripwire, throwing you off balance. You will run the gamut of emotions, from hurt and anger to resentment and fear. But, if you are emotionally honest, you will recover and move on. Divorce can be a catalyst for change but you have to be willing to do the work to get there.

In working through the conflict, hurt and other negative emotions that come with divorce,  you sever what binds you to the past, and create fertile ground in which the seeds for your future can grow.

Set new goals

With the end of your marriage comes the death of any future dreams you and your spouse may have had together. You may have pictured retirement, happy times together with grandchildren etc. The sooner you can create new goals for yourself the better. This is because it’s easier to move forward if you have a destination in mind.  Picture clearly what you want for your future and make it as detailed as possible.  This can be like a guiding light through the heavy fog. Any small step in the right direction is good. Even if it’s hundreds of tiny steps with a few steps in the wrong direction at times, you will eventually reach your destination.

As you work towards your new goals and creating a happy and fulfilling life for yourself, don’t beat yourself up when you fall short. It’s inevitable that you will make a few mistakes along the way. Even a few steps in the wrong direction can simply make you more determined to get back on track and reach your goals.

Make good decisions

If you have to make any major decisions in the initial phases of your divorce when you’re still traumatized and emotional, it’s best to consult with professionals who can offer sound advice. Involve those who love and support you too. However, you will eventually have to start making some decisions yourself. When you are feeling more stable emotionally, and you have clarity of vision for your future, decision-making becomes easier.

Don’t settle for a ‘lesser’ life

Facing a late-life divorce is a challenge. For me, it left me lying in a heap as my world fell apart. But it has also strengthened me and forced me to grow as a person.  I still believe in marriage and that you should try everything in your power to make it work. But, if that is not possible, you do not have to settle for a ‘lesser’ life.  Even though divorce results in much stress and rips out the foundations of your former life,  in the long run I believe it can be a catalyst for change. You can rise to the challenge and use the circumstances to create a fulfilling life for yourself.

Find strength in your single status

Your new status as a single person usually makes every aspect of life more challenging. But it is possible to carve out a good life for yourself as a single person, even if it takes a while to settle into your new circumstances. You may even find you grow to love being single as you begin to understand more about yourself.   Your self-confidence grows stronger as you realize you don’t need someone else to lean on or to be happy.

Your adult children will adjust

Your children, even if they are adults, feel the repercussions of your divorce. However, they do adjust, especially if they see that you are happy.  When you co-operate with your ex, they realize that you are still able to work together. They don’t feel that they are caught between the two of you and have to take sides. The happier you are and the less you cling to them for emotional support, the happier they will be.

Becoming fearless

It’s funny how when one of your deepest fears come to pass, you become more fearless. Perhaps you were terrified of being on your own – now that you are, you realize that you have managed to survive.  In a strange way, when the worst happens, you become less afraid of uncertainties and of possible outcomes. You have faced the fire and come through it. You are able to start taking the risks that lead to personal growth.

A new life

You no longer have to deal with infidelity or any of the other issues that brought an end to your marriage.  This can be a great relief, giving you more energy and a chance to focus on building a new life for yourself.  Of course, there will always be times when your divorce still hurts. But you have passed the point of fighting the change and trying to hold on out of fear of letting go. You have discovered more about the person you want to be and what makes you happy. You are moving forward instead of looking behind you all the time.  And what you see ahead may be pretty amazing!

 

 

Adjust to being single after a late-life divorce

beach hat

When you’ve been through a divorce and you are no longer a wife or husband, you have to learn how to be comfortable in your skin as a single person once again. After a long-term marriage, you probably don’t even remember what it’s like to be single.  It’s exciting to go through the process of finding out but daunting at the same time.

It takes guts to take those first shaky steps forward on your own, especially if you’re over 50. It’s easier to withdraw or attempt to escape in some way. I’ve seen how some people jump into an ill-considered second marriage simply because they cannot deal with being on their own.  But it is possible to be “happily single” and to revel in your freedom.

A new identity

If you are a woman going through a late-life divorce, you may have identified yourself as a wife and mother for decades. When the role of mothering is less hands-on and a divorce occurs, it’s no wonder that you go through an identity crisis. Moving on usually comes in fits and starts, but the more you heal, the more you are able to think about yourself in a different way and be open to new options.

For years you sacrificed and made adjustments because that is what you do when you are married with small children.  Now you are able to focus on yourself and what you want out of life without feeling guilty.

Living alone

Your lifestyle usually changes drastically after a divorce.  Loneliness may be one of the biggest problems you may have to face if you’re living alone. You are so accustomed to being part of a couple that it’s inevitable to feel some loneliness. There’s no-one on the other side of the double bed anymore and you may have to eat all your meals alone. Of course, many people experience loneliness within an unhappy marriage too but even in marriages where communication is superficial at best, there is at least still the physical presence of another adult.

When living alone after a divorce, you have to find a balance between enjoying your solitude and finding new ways to connect with other people.

As an introvert, I do not have a problem with solitude. I have always enjoyed being on my own and don’t often feel lonely.  However, with an empty nest and no husband around anymore, there was much too much silence, even for me. I realized just how important it was for me not to become completely isolated. I had to overcome my natural reluctance to socialize and achieve a balance between being alone and being with others. Extroverts, on the other hand, may have to overcome their reluctance to be on their own. They may need to learn to enjoy solitude, rather than run away from it.

Socializing as a single person

Ease into it gently

It helps to ease yourself gently into socializing as a single person after a divorce. You have probably spent years socializing with other couples and it can feel really strange to have to go out on your own.  At first, I didn’t commit myself to any occasions that I knew were going to be overwhelming for me. I also avoided occasions where I knew I would be the only single person.

You need to find ways to socialize that make you feel comfortable and fulfilled. While I was married we socialized with the same couples every weekend. With the divorce, this obviously ended and I felt a sneaky relief.  I still love my ‘couple’ friends but it was liberating to socialize with them on an individual basis, by going out for tea or breakfast.  I’ve always enjoyed relating to a few people at a time, rather than a large group.

Meeting new people

One of the advantages of having the internet is that it is easier to find groups of people with the same interests and values as you.  A simple search for activity groups in your area such as a walking or hiking group may give you a good place to start. You already have something in common with the other members and so it makes it easier to initiate conversations.  You may feel terrified when you have to attend a group activity for the first time. Fear and uncertainty are natural and they are the price you for moving forward. It’s the same principle that operates for most new things you attempt in your life, such as starting a new job or learning a new skill. As you take those steps and begin overcoming the obstacles one by one, you grow in confidence.

Volunteer work

It may be worthwhile to get involved in projects designed to help others.  It not only helps you to realize how fortunate you are, but it takes you out of your comfort zones and gives you the opportunity to meet new people too.

Picking up former passions

A place to start on your process of rediscovery may be to think about what was important to you before you were married. You do not necessarily want to go back to being that person, but it may be the perfect time to explore passions you shelved while you were bringing up your family. Picking up an old hobby or interest may just help you to rediscover facets of yourself that are undeveloped.

Taking up writing again has gone a long way towards helping me come to terms with my divorce and restoring my self-esteem. I have rediscovered a passion that I made little time for when I was raising my children.

One of my unexpected pleasures now is to jump on my bicycle and go for a ride (I was given the bicycle by good friends after the divorce). It helps me to recapture the sense of freedom I used to feel as a child.

Some people advocate writing in a journal as a way to find healing. I personally found that it was far too painful for me. I couldn’t face that systematic expression in written form of my emotions after my divorce. It was only when I was no longer completely raw that I was able to start putting the words on paper.

I did find artistic expression helpful when my emotions were all over the place. I bought myself a sketchpad and some basic supplies, including some oil pastels and started expressing my emotions through drawing. I found that expressing my emotions on paper relaxed me and made me feel calmer.

I have started a basic French course to brush up on what I learned at school.  My next step is to join a conversational French class. My sister has moved to France and I want to be able to hold a conversation in French when I visit her next year.

As you explore all avenues to rediscover yourself, whether it be finding a new job, making new friends, traveling etc. you will find that the biggest part of your journey is probably internal rather than external. It is what happens inside you that propels you forward.

Don’t be dismayed by the setbacks

When you are in this process of rediscovery, you will often find that you hit obstacles and setbacks along the road. Healing from divorce and getting to the place where you are moving forward is not linear. It comes in waves and it’s unpredictable. It’s also different for everyone so you cannot measure your progress against that of others. One day you might be ready to tackle the world and the next you may be huddled in a corner crying.  One day you may start thinking about taking a trip to another country and the next day you may find you do not even have the energy to go on your daily walk around the block. You have to learn to go with the flow and realize that it’s all part of the process of putting yourself back together again. What does happen with time is that you start to focus more on moving forwards, and look less and less in the rearview mirror.

Last Word

You can use the crisis of  your divorce as a catalyst to grow and mature into who you really want to be. It can force you to take stock of your life, look at your mistakes and take time to discover more about yourself.  The process is not easy and it requires patience and dedication, but there will come a time when you can put your divorce behind you. You will have made the transition from being half of a couple to being single.  If you’re patient, kind and loving towards yourself in the process, you may just find that you really enjoy being single.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using art to express your grief

art therapy

When you are experiencing extreme emotions, art gives you a way of venting in a safe way. No matter how disturbing the art you create, it’s much healthier to express these emotions than bottling them up inside.

Expressing and transforming feelings into visual images helps you to heal. It gives you a way to communicate your inner pain when you can’t express it verbally.  No technical skills are necessary and it’s never too late to begin.

It doesn’t matter what form your artwork takes and the benefit comes from the process itself, rather than the finished product.  You don’t have to be an artist and in fact, if you haven’t ever studied art, you will probably express your emotions more freely than those who are trained to worry about perspective, light, color etc.

How can art help you?

  • It helps you to release your emotions in a safe way.
  • It has been proven that creating art increases serotonin levels in your brain.
  • The process helps you to access your subconscious mind. The connection between your head, heart and hand in creating art can allow you to express feelings that may be trapped below the conscious level.
  • It can be like a form of meditation due to the repetitive, soothing actions. It creates a state of relaxation in your body that is beneficial to your health.

Think about your personal history with art

You may have negative or positive ways of thinking about art that come from your childhood. It’s worth asking yourself the following questions. I answered the questions myself to show you what they can reveal.

  1. Do you have any childhood memories of artistic activities?
    One of my good childhood memories is of coloring-in with a huge box of crayons in a fairytale coloring-in book. I also clearly remember my mother taking me to pick up autumn leaves which we made into a collage in a scrapbook.
  2. What did your family think about art?
    My father and grandmother both enjoyed art as a hobby but they came to it later in life. While I was growing up, there was little focus on artistic pursuits in my family.
  3. Did you have any negative experiences with art? Do you remember being told that you were not artistic? Yes, I was regarded as the academic and my sisters were artistic. At high school the art teacher encouraged me but I was very insecure about my artistic ability. My mother took art at school and she would often tell us the story of how the other pupils laughed at the picture of a grand piano she drew for her final exam. That story stuck in my head.

Getting started

Facing a divorce late in life has led me to explore all possible avenues for healing. One of these was experimenting with art to help with the healing process. I had done a few watercolor and acrylic paintings over the years but for this purpose, I felt I wanted to start off with some basic drawing and coloring-in supplies. (perhaps I was thinking back to the pure, carefree joy of coloring-in as a child!)

My Basic Supplies

Sketch pad
Color pencils:
Moore: Premium Art Color Pencils Set (48 pcs)
Oil Pastels:
Pentel Arts Oil Pastels  An affordable set of 50 colors so you can experiment freely from a vast range.
Drawing pencils with soft lead (2b or 4b)
Gum eraser and white eraser
Glue

Pens:
I like the Gelly roll gel ink pens because they glide effortlessly across the paper. I use the white ones to draw or doodle on black paper.  It’s amazing what interesting shapes come out when you pick up that white pen and freely allow it to wander freely on that black paper!

Sakura 37488 3-Piece Gelly Roll Blister Card Medium Point Gel Ink Pen Set, White

Sakura 57381 6-Piece Gelly Roll Classic-06 Gel Pen Set, Fine, Black

Find a quiet, comfortable spot

Try to find a quiet spot with as few distractions as possible. Make it as comfortable and pleasant as possible with soft cushions and objects that are important to you that have meaning and personal value.  Play some calm music – rather choose instrumental music as songs with lyrics can distract you.

Some daily art therapy activities

Try to commit to a session or two a week, or even daily if possible.

Create a collage

If you have never expressed yourself artistically before, it may help you to start by cutting out shapes and images from magazines. Cut out shapes, images and colors that express what you are feeling and create a collage. You will probably find that you want to add to it with pastels etc. and this will help to set the ball rolling for you.

Visualize and draw your emotions

Think about how you are feeling. Are you sad, angry, fearful? Say, for example, you are feeling angry, first visualize the shapes and colors that express anger in your mind’s eye.  Choose the tools that you think will help you to express this and just allow images to come. Don’t think about right and wrong ways to express it. You may choose never to share any of your pages with anyone, so you can let loose with lines, colors, shapes and even words.

Color a mandala

mandala coloring book

Carl Jung, the psychoanalyst, saw a mandala as “a representation of the unconscious self”. He believed that he could identify emotional disorders by looking at mandala paintings done by his patients and then work with the person towards wholeness. The word mandala is Sanskrit for “healing circle” or “whole world.”  Mandalas are associated with Eastern religions but their use has spread to the Western World and many people color or paint mandalas for the soothing, rhythmic activity and stress relief that comes from doing so. A mandala usually has a prominent center surrounded by an intricate design of colorful shapes. Try the Mandala Coloring Book for Adults on Amazon.

Looking back

Take a look at your work at the end of a session without being critical. If it triggers off some thoughts,  write them on the back. Add a date and a title. Once you have done this for a couple of weeks, it is interesting to look back on what you have done. Look at the shapes, colors, form and content of what you have created. Is there one emotion that stands out?  Is there a color that you use most often? What shapes are important to you? Don’t try to analyze your use of colors and shapes according to common associations. Your own meanings can be influenced by so many things, from your family background and culture to your religious beliefs. By looking back,  you will begin to discover how you personally express your feelings in visual form.

Last Word

Expressing yourself artistically helps to transform your emotional pain and make sense of loss. There is, of course, a limit to what the simple exercises mentioned here can do. Art therapy can really only be defined as such when it takes place in the presence of a certified art therapist. But it doesn’t hurt to try out some of these art activities if you are looking for healthy ways to process your emotions. The process in itself is relaxing and soothing, even if you never find any ‘deep meaning’ in what you have created. Make it a part of your life and you might be surprised at how much you grow to treasure it.

*Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you choose to click on them and purchase something, you’ll be supporting this website at no extra cost to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t live your whole life on autopilot

observe

Humans are creatures of habit. Much of our day-to-day life is repetitive. We all know that feeling of getting into the car and arriving at work without being able to recount the exact details of the journey. When we repeat actions on a daily basis, we use up less energy by doing exactly what we did before. Safe routines can also protect us from danger.  The problem comes when more and more of our life becomes routine until there is no spontaneity left. Don’t live your whole life on autopilot – that is existing and not really living. When we live in autopilot mode we are not really present in our lives and that can only result in plenty of unhappiness. lack of fulfillment and regrets.

mony treeDr. Ira Hyman, Ph.D, did an interesting research project with some former students. They  conducted two studies in which they placed obstacles directly in the pathway of walkers and checked if they avoided the obstacles and if they became aware of the them.  In the one study (inspired by a YouTube video by Amy Krouse Rosenthal) three-dollar bills were clipped onto a branch of a tree beside a narrow path between some dorms and the academic centre of campus. All individuals had to move their heads in order to not walk into the branch. The researchers discovered that people could walk past the tree, move to avoid a branch, and fail to become aware of money hanging directly in front of their faces. We have all heard the saying that ‘money does not grow on trees’ but even if it did, we probably wouldn’t notice it!  Studies like this just help to illustrate how much of our lives is lived on autopilot.

Warning signs

The Cambridge dictionary defines being on autopilot as “doing something without thinking about it or without making an effort”.  Here are some warning signs that may indicate too much of your life is spent on autopilot:

  1. You have lost hope.
    You have nothing to look forward to except more of the same. You have given up on your dreams and aspirations. You have given up all attempts to make any changes in your life. You no longer have any sense of purpose. You may begin to feel this way because of all the losses and discouragement you have suffered in the course of your life. You may have decided that you would rather live without the highs and lows rather than being disappointed again.
  2. You have begun to fear change.
    You no longer want to stretch your boundaries or challenge yourself. You no longer ache to do something new. You think that if you don’t continue performing the same actions day after day, the consequences may be frightening. You may get an idea that lifts you out of your mundane life for a moment, but it remains only an idea because your fear kicks in and squashes it with thoughts that it’s too difficult to follow through.
  3. You don’t take the actions necessary to make your dreams come true.
    It seems like just too much effort to take steps towards fulfilling your dreams. You no longer make any conscious effort to make your life or the life of those around you better. You don’t take risks and yet you live every day with regret about what you are not doing. You are always waiting for something to happen to you as you don’t feel you can make the changes yourself.
  4. You lack self-esteem
    When you lack self-esteem, it is easier to live a life of dull routine that provides no challenges because you do not feel equipped to handle them.
  5. You are influenced by the negativity of others.
    When crabs have been caught, they could easily escape from the bucket but they keep dragging one another down and so none of them get out. People who have a ‘crab mentality’ do not rejoice in the success of others but try to prevent it because of their jealousy, envy and competitiveness.  If you are attempting to make changes in your life, these are the people who will resent it. If they have to go out and work in a cubicle every day to earn a living, why should you be any different? Why should you be able to follow your passion when they have to do the same meaningless job day after day just to pay the bills?  When you share your dreams and hopes, they will point out all the reasons why what you want to do is impossible. If you listen to these voices, you have little chance of escaping mediocrity.
  6. You are caught in the trap of materialism.
    There is absolutely nothing wrong with possessions but sometimes the quest for them gets in the way of life rather than enhancing it.  There are many people who reach the end of their lives having accumulated many possessions but still facing plenty of regrets and unhappiness.

A meaningful life without regrets

Do you want to live your whole life with feelings of regret? There is a natural tendency to re-examine our lives at the start of any new phase such as when we have children or when our children leave home. It often takes a near-death experience or some kind of tragedy to really jolt us out of our complacency and take stock of our lives. It took the trauma of divorce to well and truly shake me out of my comfort zones.

Find out what’s holding you back, say ‘enough’ and make a decision that you want to live more intentionally and meaningfully. That’s the first step. Of course just saying it isn’t enough and it has to be followed up with actions. But there’s nothing stopping you except you.

Living life without regrets does not necessarily mean the same for everyone. For someone it may mean embarking on an adventure such as deciding to live off the grid or traveling around the world. For someone else it might mean living simply and authentically according to their true values – they may want to embrace a creative lifestyle or get rid of excess possessions. It may mean deciding to live fully in the present moment without being dragged down by the past or fearing for the future.  Be consciously aware of living fully in the present and enjoying what it has to offer.

I thought about this today when my adult daughter came to visit me and I was busy doing all sorts of other things instead of talking to her.  I sat down, put aside everything else and we had a good chat. I felt so close to her and my life was suddenly much fuller and richer as a result. This is a simple example but I think it’s the simple choices that can lead to more permanent change.   Maybe, living a life without regrets is as simple as beginning each day by making a conscious decision to be more fully present.

Last word

I think we all want to live life rather than merely existing. To do this, it’s important to be aware of how much of your life is spent on autopilot. Once you have this awareness and you discover what’s holding you back,  you can  start making some changes. If you start becoming more conscious and think about what you are doing, eventually your life will become more meaningful.  Do this often enough and I believe you will no longer feel powerless.  Are you living in a haze where you’re not fully present?  If you are, it’s time to make some changes. I am trying to live more intentionally myself and it’s not always easy to leave your comfort zones and challenge yourself. But, I have found that the rewards are great when I do succeed and that encourages me to move forward. It certainly does not happen overnight and takes determination but it is worth it!

5 ways the internet can improve your life after 50

silver surfers

When I was much younger I used to consider 60 as the dividing line between middle and old age. Needless to say, as I grew older so my goalposts moved. I aim to live and thrive for years to come. I am grateful to be able to use the power of the internet and experience its benefits as I get older.  I am not alone – millions of older adults are finding that their lives are enhanced by using the internet.

(This post contains affiliate links. If you buy through my links, I earn a small commission that helps me to run this blog and you do not pay more when you do so).

The rise of “silver surfers”

It has only been 25 years since the World Wide Web was introduced to the public and in that time it has become part of everyday life for more than half the population of the world. The term “surfing the Internet” was coined as far back as 1992 by a university librarian, Jean Armour Polly. She had written an article and was looking for a title. She said “I weighed many possible metaphors. I wanted something that expressed the fun I had using the Internet, as well as hit on the skill, and yes, endurance necessary to use it well.” She was using a mouse pad at the time that pictured a surfer on a big wave. It said “Information Surfer” and this gave her the inspiration she needed. A metaphor was born that caught on and is still being used.

Most of us have heard about the fictional superhero, The Silver Surfer, of Marvel comic book fame. The term “Silver surfers”, on the other hand, is now used to refer to those of us over the age of 50 who use the internet consistently.  I like the term as it conjures up an adventurous ride through dangerous waters – so much better than being called a senior citizen and way better than being regarded an “oxygen guzzler” or a “wrinkly” who is “over the hill”.

Learn to use it or be left behind

For our children who grew up with the current technology, they cannot understand the challenge it presents for those of us who did not.  I grew up with typewriters, tipex and landlines. In those days I could not have even imagined backspacing to delete a mistake, carrying a phone around with me wherever I went and not having to press carriage return after every sentence.

In the early 2000s, the internet became an integral part of our social interactions with platforms like Facebook and Twitter becoming popular.  The online and offline worlds were becoming increasingly connected and as this happened, I think the realization began to dawn that the internet was not going anywhere. It was a case of learning how to use it or being left behind. At first the idea was intimidating but I knew I had to get my feet wet or I would never make it into the deep water. It was not difficult to pick up the basic skills. For those who resist learning them, it’s usually more about their mindset than anything else. Resistance born out of fear can prevent people from using the very tools that help them to retain their independence well into old age.

Using the power of the internet

Now,  I can hardly remember what life was like before the internet. I have become used to having a world of knowledge at my fingertips. When I do not have access to my laptop or cell phone, I feel as though a limb has been amputated. I have just had a weekend away with no electricity at all – I absolutely loved it but now I couldn’t imagine living that way permanently.

1. Keep earning after retirement

Current technology allows me to work from home as a writer. I am able to independently support myself no matter what my age and I can continue to work for as long as I wish.  When I first mentioned that I wanted to start a blog directed at people over 50, my children questioned whether anyone would read it. According to them, targeting this age group was a mistake. They thought I should rather focus on young people because they did not believe enough older people were ‘tech savvy’. I am glad to say that they were wrong ! I have discovered that “silver surfers” abound and I have been inspired, uplifted and informed by many over 50s blogs and social networking sites. Many people who have reached retirement age are no longer ready or able to take off their working boots and are using the internet to supplement their income.

2. Shop at the click of a button

How about grocery shopping from the comfort of your home on your iPad? No more queuing or physically walking around shops for hours. You don’t even have to waste petrol driving anywhere – your groceries can be delivered right to your door. I  recently discovered a local website that selects recipes for the week and packs all the ingredients needed to make them. You simply decide which meals you want to make and a package of fresh ingredients arrives at your door every week.

Some of us are caring for parents with mobility issues. For them, shopping for groceries online can be a godsend.  It can keep them independent and  and save you time.  It’s definitely worth investing in an iPad. The Apple iPad Air 2 is thin, light and capable, coming with a number of features  that are useful for older people – it has a wide screen size of 9.7″ and its retina display has great resolution and clarity making it easy on older eyes. For such a small package, the speakers also produce an oversized sound.

ipad for seniors bookIf you want to buy an iPad for a parent, seriously consider purchasing My iPad for Seniors (4th Edition) by Michael MIller. The book is a comprehensive guide to using all of Apple’s iPad models.  The information presented in this book is targeted at users aged 50 and up and the instructions are simplified with older users in mind.  In addition, much content specific for people 50+ is included.

3. Read reviews and compare prices

Another plus is to be able to read online reviews and compare prices before making a purchase. This is a great help for those who are retired and living on a budget as special deals are often available.  Perhaps you want to plan a holiday. You can compare quotes for various venues and find ones that offer special rates at certain times.  You are even able to compare travel insurance at the click of a button.  It is also helpful to read reviews before buying a particular product. For example, you can read up on the best travel suitcases for seniors before deciding to purchase a certain make.

4. Stay connected

Using email and social networking platforms allows you to stay in touch with those who are closest to you, despite physical distance and busy lives. In the past it was difficult to stay current with children and grandchildren. The gap tended to become wider and wider but this does not have to happen any more. Staying connected can help to keep isolation and depression at bay.

  • Email and text messaging are making communication more immediate.
  • Social networks like Facebook and YouTube make it easy to see current photographs and videos of family and keep up to date with birthdays and special occasions.
  • Technologies like Skype are invaluable in helping to keep communication with loved ones in far flung places at little cost.  I can keep in touch with my brother and sister in England and another sister in France for a fraction of the cost of a phone call. The added benefit of webcam video capability means that I can see them too – when we finally see one another in the flesh again, it won’t be such a shock.The Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 is a best seller on Amazon with over 6,500 reviews. This flexible HD webcam gives a sharp, clear image, can be adjusted to aim anywhere and has a wide field of vision in a way built-in webcams can’t match.  

5. Stimulate your brain

It is easy to keep learning remotely and the internet provides many ways to keep your mind sharp. Research has proved that playing brain development games can help to keep you functioning effectively in your daily life for longer. You might find it surprising to know that many people between the ages of 50 and 65 are learning online and often do better than their more youthful counterparts.

Watching video tutorials related to your interests is another great way to learn – find out more about how to paint, garden, arrange flowers, cook, crochet and write. You never have to be bored ever again.

If you are no longer able to travel due to financial or health reasons, armchair travel is an option. You can explore the whole world by watching videos online. It’s not quite the same as the real thing but it certainly beats the boredom of sitting and staring at four walls.

“The excitement of learning separates youth from old age. As long as you are learning, you’re not old.” – R.S Yalow

Last word

It’s a myth that older people cannot overcome their fear of technology and benefit from being online. Perhaps it is more of a challenge for them to begin with than for younger people who grew up with the technology. However, many online websites and communities today are devoted specifically to those of us who are growing older. We can learn, have fun, challenge our brains, find new ways to pursue our hobbies and meet new people. Many “silver surfers” are finding that being online is helping to change the way they look at the second half of their lives.

What is self-pity and why is it addictive?

self-pity versus self-esteemThe Merriam-Webster dictionary defines self-pity as “a self-indulgent dwelling on your own sorrows or misfortunes”.   Here are some of the reasons why self-pity is so destructive:

  • It is addictive. You want people to feel sorry for you. It becomes a habit and just like any other habit, it is hard to kick.
  • It makes you into a victim. It prevents you from being completely honest about your own actions and the control you have over your own choices.
  • It makes you selfish. You are so consumed with your own pain that your entire focus is inward. You don’t even see the pain of others and you are unable to feel grateful when people try to help you.
  • It is self-indulgent as it is the easy route to take and prevents you from growing into all you can be as a person. It gives you an excuse to not apply yourself. You don’t have to account for your own failings, or look at other people fairly.

 

This is the script for self-pity: “I am in a really bad situation. I don’t understand why this has happened to me. I can’t do anything to help myself because it’s so bad.” This effectively absolves you from any blame and from taking any responsibility.

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How to be happy living alone

living alone

When you discover how to be happy living alone, it can be immensely liberating. If you live alone because you have no other option, you can choose to delight in the many advantages or you can bemoan your fate. Many people manage to live alone without being lonely. Of course, when you live alone, you are more susceptible to feelings of loneliness but it is important to remember that even in a crowd, it is possible to be lonely.

I have lived with others all my life and so living alone is a novel experience for me. I find that loneliness does tend  to nip at my heels, especially on holidays. However, I have had to learn to keep it at bay. Here are some ways to make you feel happy instead of lonely.

Let the light in

let light inThis may sound insignificant but I have found that when you live alone it is vital to keep as much contact with the outside world as possible. Open your curtains wide in the morning and let the light stream in. See it as a symbolic gesture, removing the barrier that prevents you from seeing out and others from seeing in. It also helps to take a quick walk around your neighborhood early in the morning, greeting any neighbors who are out and about. This immediately eliminates feelings of being isolated and shut off from the rest of humanity.

Daily rituals

When it comes to your daily activities, revel in what living alone allows you to do.  Put on your favorite music and dance to it. Eat straight out of the peanut butter jar if it takes you back to your childhood and makes you happy.  Read late into the night or take a long relaxing bath.

Drinking tea is one of my daily rituals and I now take the time to sit down and enjoy it. I no longer leave it to sit on my desk until it’s cold or gulp it down as I rush out of the door to fetch a child.

In the evening, I have the TV remote to myself. It’s funny how just the fact that I can watch any program makes me far more selective and many times I prefer to go to bed and read.  The height of indulgence for me is to climb into bed  at 9pm and to read late into the night.

My family hated it when I became involved in one of my DIY projects. On one occasion I spent days sanding down a table and chairs and painting them with chalk paint. For about a week they breathed in sawdust and had to eat takeaways. Now, I can work on my latest project in peace without inconveniencing anyone else.

Know your triggers

You may find that you hate that feeling of walking in the front door with no-one to greet you. What’s worse than walking into an empty house is to walk into a dark, empty house. Remember to leave a light on when you go out at night.  Owning a pet that greets you with great enthusiasm when you arrive home is a big advantage when you live alone. Think about getting a pet if you don’t already have one as it can help to combat loneliness.

Make your space pleasing to you

Now that there’s no-one else to disapprove, you can decorate and organize your home to suit your own preferences. Think about creating a comfortable, welcoming environment around you. Express your individuality and surround yourself with items that give you pleasure. Try to get rid of any clutter and keep only what you really need to create a calming environment.

Your kitchen
Having an overstocked, cluttered kitchen is unnecessary when you live alone and it just means more time spent cleaningWeed out all the unnecessary crockery and cutlery. Use good storage solutions and organize your kitchen to suit cooking for one and eating on your own.

Your bathroom
luxury towels

Enjoy the luxury of having your bathroom entirely to yourself. Spoil yourself with a couple of really, large, fluffy towels and make sure you have some scented candles. (Click on the images if you wish to purchase these items)

Your lounge
A comfy sofa is a must and a luxurious throw to use when you watch TV adds that little bit of extra comfort. Use plants and fresh flowers to add some life and color to the room. If you don’t want to keep purchasing fresh flowers, use the best quality silk flowers.

 

Your bedroom

bedroomTurn your bedroom into a real sanctuary with quality bedding and plenty of pillows. Make sure you have good lighting for reading in bed. A full-length mirror in your bedroom is helpful if you live alone. No-one else is there to tell you that you have a stray curler in your hair! Cupboard space can be maximized with special storage solutions so that all your clothes and accessories are well organized and easy to find. Choose a color for the walls that you find most calming and relaxing. I love turquoise, so my bedroom is white and turquoise.

 Get out of your comfort zones

Take up a new hobby or learn a new skill. Don’t fall into a rut or spend too much time watching TV. Think about how to challenge yourself. It’s your time and your future. Start writing a book, think about places you would like to see and classes you might enjoy.

Go out and meet people

Create structured ways to leave your house and interact with other people. Choose times at which you may feel most alone such as when your children used to come home from school.  Identify groups that you might enjoy and where you are likely to meet people who may become close friends. Join a book club if you are a reader or a walking club if you love outdoor activities.

Entertain

Inviting people into your home helps to bring in laughter and life. Don’t avoid entertaining because you think you have to do it in a formal way. Have a girl’s night where you watch movies or play games. Invite a neighbor around for tea. Healthy interaction with friends is essential, so make some effort to reach out to others, even when you do not feel like it. Yes, it may not be that easy, but it is worthwhile. Read this post I wrote about the negative impact of loneliness on your health.

Conclusion

You need to be able to be happy alone. If you are too dependent on someone else for your happiness, it is in jeopardy when they are no longer around. One of the best ways to discover more about yourself  is to spend some time alone. It can be very revealing. At first, you may find that you don’t like who you are and you may have to work on building your self-esteem.  It’s worth it because the feeling of being comfortable in your own skin is priceless. No-one can take that away from you and it means that you do not feel threatened by others. You can  enjoy an abundant life, being exactly who you are meant to be.

15 inspirational quotes for Empty Nesters

Here are 15 inspirational quotes for empty nesters to help them let go, move on and embrace the new phase in their lives. Our constant involvement in our children’s lives is what helps us to do our parenting job well when they are small.  However, as they grow older and develop more independence,  we have to start letting go.  Navigating this transition as our children gradually learn independence can be tricky. However,  holding on too tight when they are fully grown is a mistake.  Letting go is essential if we want to maintain healthy relationships with them.

letting go quotequotes for empty nesterswise parentquote Melissa Marr

 

quote about balancelet go quote

 

moving on quotekeep balance quotequote

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carl Jung quoteBible quotequote Joyce Maynard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goethe quotequote H. Jackson Brownquote Wayne Dyer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember that you are exactly where you need to be, so embrace the new phase you are facing. Don’t be afraid to face your fears and lean into the future. I know that I never want to make my children feel guilty for living their own lives. I don’t ever want them to relate to me because they feel that they should.  Life consists of a series of natural changes and if you keep moving forward, you will find freedom and perhaps make discoveries about yourself in the process that may just surprise you.

 

 

What to do when you feel lost

lotus flower

When we are feeling lost, it is hard to believe that we will ever find our way again. But, it is that very feeling of being lost that is part of the process of self-discovery. As Henry David Thoreau said “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.”  Masaru Emoto describes beautifully what is possible when we feel lost.  “If you feel lost, disappointed, hesitant, or weak, return to yourself, to who you are, here and now and when you get there, you will discover yourself, like a lotus flower in full bloom, even in a muddy pond, beautiful and strong.”

What makes us feel lost?

A life transition

It is perfectly natural to feel lost at times in our lives. This often happens in the transition from one phase to another – becoming a teenager, becoming a parent, facing menopause, divorce or the loss of independence that comes with illness or old age.  When our children leave home and we no longer have such a hands-on parenting role, this is one of the times when we may feel lost. Our roles are no longer as defined as they were.

Many mornings after going through a divorce and experiencing an empty nest at the same time, I just wanted to pull the covers over my head and stay in bed. Everything I tried to do felt like such an effort and I could hardly force myself to keep up with routine tasks, let alone attempt anything more. The former script of my life was shredded and the days when I would spring out of bed with a ‘bring-it-on-world’ attitude and a sense of purpose seemed to have deserted me altogether.

When we are moving from one stage of life to another, we are like ships who are no longer anchored and have sailed out of a safe harbor. Many times our destination is unknown. At this point people may find that they begin to drift about in the ocean of life. They lose touch with all the goals and dreams they once had. They cannot even remember what they wanted out of life anymore. Nothing seems to motivate them and make them feel alive any more.

Incoming overload

We are faced with floods of information, noise, consumerism, and technology on a daily basis. In the midst of all of this, it is easy to start feeling as though we’ve lost our way. We cannot see a clear path in front of us due to the confusion and cognitive overload we experience. Life is changing so fast, technology is progressing by leaps and bounds and we have forgotten what it is like to experience silence.  It is easy to be overcome by fear  when we are constantly bombarded with news about terror attacks, rising unemployment, global warming, economic downturns and more. Living in a state of fear gives rise to anxiety and easily results in a feeling of being disconnected and lost.

Lack of meaningful relationships

We all need meaningful relationships in our lives. When we surround ourselves with supportive people who encourage us, we have less chance of feeling lost. Sometimes it is not easy for us to open up to others and nurture deep relationships but it is very important. Even one meaningful relationship is better than having a vast number of casual acquaintances. Some people are surrounded constantly by others and yet they may still feel lost.

Even if we are surrounded by others but they are people who tend to have a negative attitude towards life, it may rub off on us and eventually we lose sight of our own dreams and goals.

Always following the advice and opinions of others instead of trusting our own is another way to end up on a dead-end path.  Common opinion may dissuade us from taking up opportunities to which we feel drawn. I had firmly set my sights on earning a living from my writing online. I must admit I did not know how much hard work it would take but if I had listened to all the detractors, this website would still exist only in my head.

Searching

I am sure there are very few people on earth who haven’t felt lost at some point in their lives, even if they are celebrities or people who seem to have it all together.  It is absolutely fine to feel lost but it is definitely not okay to stay lost. When we are physically lost, we may meander around in circles in our attempt to find our way again. We may not find our way immediately but we have to keep searching.

We need to actively search for a new sense of purpose and ways to create a meaningful life.  The searching itself is part of the process of transformation.

We may have to backtrack and reconnect with our past dreams. What was it that made us excited? What impossible dreams did we once have that may just be possible now?  For those who have kept journals, reading past entries may help to re-awaken dreams.  For those who don’t journal, now is the time to start!

Getting quiet is important if we are to find meaning again. We have to create time apart from all the influences flooding our lives to find out what truly matters to us. We have to allow ourselves to value the silence rather than indulging in a flurry of activities to try and avoid feeling lost.

We have to be prepared to move beyond our comfort zones. Life transformation doesn’t happen if we are not prepared to stretch ourselves and move out of our ruts. If we stay where we are, we stay lost. As we begin to search, we may move forward very slowly but at least we are moving. Even if we take small steps and don’t know where we are going yet, we are making progress. I have begun the journey towards making a living from my writing – a few years ago I wouldn’t have dreamed that I could do something I love and make money at the same time!

It may even take doing something completely out of character to help us find our way again. I was asked by a friend to go to puppy training with her and I accepted. She had bought two puppies on impulse and needed help as she couldn’t manage both of them. I had never done anything like this before but I had such fun and found that there’s nothing better than running around after a puppy to lift your spirits.

We may need to take a closer look at the lives of those who are doing what we might be interested in trying and ask them a lot of questions.  When we have the opportunity of making changes in our lives, we may have to consider some possibilities we have never even entertained before.

Transformation

Life circumstances change and we have to change with them. We may feel lost for a while and change is never easy but embracing it is essential.  No transformation is possible without it. I personally found that one of my turning points was to rediscover some of the activities I loved doing in the past – writing, going to theater, gardening. I began to enjoy my freedom and my own company instead of feeling so lost and dreading being alone. We have to find a way to embrace the feeling of being lost as a step in the journey towards our transformation.

I would love to hear if you have ever felt lost and how you managed to get through it.

Bridging the chasm between head and heart

Last weekend my whole family sat around the table together for the first time in a long time. It was too much like old times for me and after everyone left I felt depressed. Here I was urging others to make the most of their empty nest and I was sitting between my four walls all alone and feeling guilty for being miserable. What made me feel better was the realization that I was not the only one. There are many, many guitar2other women who go through the same process and feel the same way. Nobody seems to be immune, and even celebrities and career women have to deal with this stage in their lives. I realize that although I am moving forward and letting go, at the same time pain and grief demand to be acknowledged.

I came across an excerpt from what one mother had written to her son that resonated with me “I miss the constant noise in every room and the silent guitar seems to be a symbol of all the changes I am going through. I am trying to catch up with the reality of the change and know that I have to let go. Sometimes I have this intense longing to have you with me, but I know in my head that if I can let go of the past, and start looking ahead, some of the best years may still be ahead”. This mother managed to capture my own experience – what I know so well in my head needs to find its way into my heart. (more…)

When you’re missing your children ….

 

I miss you

  • REALIZE that it is something that affects most parents when one or more of the children leave home.
  • RECOGNISE that it often occurs at the same time as other life changes such as menopause, ill-health and retirement. There may be a number of reasons making you feel the way you do.
  • ACCEPT that sadness and crying are normal, healthy reactions. Other symptoms such as lack of motivation, sleeplessness and feelings of unworthiness are also experienced by many people.
  • BELIEVE it is important to give yourself time to work through your grief. Be gentle with yourself and do not impose expectations on yourself as to how long it should take you to get over the grief.
  • SEEK SUPPORT if you feel life is no longer worth living, you are not able to continue with any daily activities and cry excessively.

5 simple actions to improve your day

Some little actions on a daily basis go a long way towards improving your day. Before you know it, they will become daily habits:glass water with lemon

  • Drink a glass of warm water with lemon and wait about 15 minutes before eating breakfast. Your body will thank you because lemons are loaded with nutrients. Just some of the benefits are helping you to lose weight, cleanse your body, reduce inflammation and boost your immune system. The smell of citrus makes you feel good too as it releases endorphins.
  • When you wake up, think of one small reason to be grateful. Keep a little book for this purpose and write it down. Your list will grow every day and you will soon start thinking about how much you have instead of how much you have lost.
  • Identify one small task that needs to be done. This may be cleaning out a kitchen cupboard, writing an email or weeding a patch of lawn. When you have completed your task for the day, you have the satisfaction of ticking it off your list. The sense of achievement you get is ridiculous in proportion to how long the task takes. Yocleaning cabinetu will be amazed at how much can be accomplished in this way.
  • Stop equating exercise with going to the gym and get your exercise doing your housework or errands. You can even dance around your own living room as there is no-one else around to make you feel self-conscious. Start small and go for a walk around the block rather than not exercising at all.  Try to work up a sweat as this will release those ‘feel good’ chemicals in your brain.

  • Make contact with one other person. If you live alone, contact with other human beings is vital.  You have to put in some effort to reach out to others in small ways, even if it is a telephone call or an email.  You will see how even the smallest ways of reaching out bring their rewards. Since my divorce, I have forced myself to accept any invitations from friends that come my way. I go out just about every Saturday mornings to eat breakfast with friends at one of the local wine farms. Another favorite outing is having a hot stone massage at a local spa.
  • Arranging a High Tea Spa Party for four friends where you can all relax and socialize is a lovely idea. (The offer below applies only to Canadians).

    Breakaway Experiences High Tea Spa Party and Manicure for 4 - $172