I live about 30 miles from Washington, DC and even though I’ve lived near there for 20 years, I still hate driving in that town. No matter what I do, I still get lost – even with a GPS!
A few years ago I was driving to an appointment in DC, and my GPS kept sending me in circles – I was doing the same thing over and over, and I got extremely frustrated. I was calling my GPS lady horrible names, and my estimated time of arrival was already showing me being late (and I hate being late!) I got so focused on being late, that my anxiety made my navigation worse. I didn’t want to pull over for sake of losing more time, so I got even more lost. Then I ended up in a very bad neighborhood, and then I became scared.
Whether you’re driving or just trying to navigate through life, getting lost sucks. The more you try to find out where you’re going, the worse it gets – and it can put you in a very seedy place if you don’t take the time to pull over and assess.
Every time you are in transition, you feel as if you’re lost, without a compass or a GPS. And even though people may tell you where to go (like a GPS does), they don’t always point you in the right direction.
So you get frustrated, and you keep driving in circles, repeating the same path, and hoping for a different outcome.
This is when you need to trust your gut, pull over, and reassess your steps. You can get so focused on where you need to be, that your anxiety about not being there will only make things worse (like when I was driving in DC). Don’t worry about being late. Don’t get caught up in the additional time it takes you to reassess.
Pulling over means making a plan. For instance, let’s say you’re dating all the wrong people, and no matter what you do, you keep meeting the same losers. You’re lost, yet you keep circling around hoping for a different outcome. Hope isn’t a plan. Hoping means you’re not in control.
In this case, you would pull over and take a step back, and look at your end goal – who is your ideal partner? The more you get frustrated by who you’re not meeting will only keep you lost, and dating the wrong people!
Like any plan, it comes with an outline:
1) What is your objective or end goal
2) What is your strategy to get it
3) What are the tactics
4) How will you implement
Using the dating example your plan might be this:
1) My goal is to be in a committed relationship, with someone amazing
2) My strategy will be to date online, and be open to any introductions
3) My tactics are to research how to make a good online dating profile; write a list of deal breakers and boundaries for my dates; date at least 1x per week.
4) I will implement by trusting my gut, being open to the right person, but discard the ones who aren’t
People often struggle with making a plan because they stumble on Step 1 – having clarity on your end goal. It’s hard to use a GPS without an exact address, right? But we make excuses for why we shouldn’t have what we want, so we therefore don’t get it, even though we think we want it! Making excuses is like muddying your GPS signal – without a clear signal, you will get lost.
So if you’re lost, try working on just Step 1 – don’t do the other steps until you are crystal clear on what you want. Write it down and sit with it for a week. Ask yourself, “Is this truly attainable right now? Am I afraid to have it because of what other people will think?” Once you have clarity, then work on the other steps (and don’t forget to have fun with this – lighten up your mood!).
It’s funny – about a month ago, while driving in DC, I found myself in the exact location where I was once lost. But this time, I knew exactly where I was. I had circled around that same neighborhood so many times, I knew how to navigate my way out.
That’s the cool thing about being lost – it only happens once. While you’re feeling so aimless, you’re actually learning new skills and tools that will equip you the next time you’re thinking you’re lost. But you won’t be, because you’ve been there, done that.
To your own GPS and finding your destination…
I probably have the best commute there is. I get to ride my bike to my office, over cobble stone roads and passing views of sailboats and kayakers in downtown Annapolis. Rarely do I run into crazy drivers or commuters.
But there was this one day that was different. As I was on my bike, waiting for the light to turn red so I could cross, I saw an oncoming car going too fast for her approaching red light – she had no intention of stopping. It all happened in slow motion. I saw her texting and not paying attention. Meanwhile, I saw a car come behind me and speed up to catch his green light. I instantly created a mathematical equation of distance vs speed and realized the man was going to get T-boned by the texting driver.
Instinctively, I screamed, “Hold up!” and luckily he slammed on his breaks. He finally saw the woman run her red light, and he appeared shaken, yet relieved after realizing the disaster he avoided. He looked at me with thankful eyes and mouthed the words, “Oh my God, thank you!” and then he sped off, carrying about his day.
As I biked on, I realized I totally saved that man’s life, and maybe even the other driver who was texting. Now… rewind to just 12 hours before.
The night before, I was having a stressful day. I was so upset about something, and that led me to escape my stress by going on a late evening boat ride with my husband. We didn’t dock until 1 am, which is extremely late for me. I felt a lot better, but the late evening made me sleep in past my usual wake-up time.
So all of those events the day prior – my stress and the late evening boat ride – put me on that street corner, at exactly the right time, in order to save that guy’s life.
That’s when it really hit me: there is something so much bigger out there controlling our fate. Yet we work so damn hard thinking we are all alone, running our lives with no help.
Had I not had a crappy day prior, I would have awoken at my usual time, and missed that car accident. I like to think that those drivers had angels, and they created a weird event in my life in order to save theirs. Who knows. I won’t ever know, really. But I like to have faith.
And so can you.
Every living thing on this planet is formed by energy, and our energy gives off vibrations. Our vibrations bounce back and forth onto one another, making us create events and circumstances that impact the world. But all you ever see is YOU, your story, and your own experience. Only our angels and God get the big picture.
So this means that when you’re having a really bad day, trust that it’s all happening for a reason. Maybe it’s benefitting someone else, or maybe the bad event will teach you a lesson that will only benefit you a year from now. Sometimes you’ll get to see the WHY in it all – like when I was able to prevent a car accident – but you won’t always.
Instead, the only ‘why’ you’ll ever ask is, “Why me?” Wåçhen we wonder why we are going through hell, it means we don’t trust that something good is going to happen from it. All we experience is the pain, and then bitterness and resentment follow.
I get it – I was having a ‘why me’ moment the other night! But as I rode my bike through the intersection that never saw debris or emergency vehicles, I heard a voice loud and clear in my head. The voice chuckled and said, “Haha, Lindsey, now you get it. Why not you?”
And I ask you the same thing this week. Trust your pain and struggle. It’s happening to serve you or someone else – you can’t control the world, so stop trying to. Surrender and trust.
When my youngest son ‘graduated’ from the 5th grade, his ceremony was surprisingly moving. Aside from the fact that I think over-indulgent ceremonies for every milestone our kids reach is a bit ridiculous, this particular one struck a chord with me.
At the end of the ceremony, we got to watch a slide show that showed each child’s baby picture, and their own comments on what or where they want to be in 10 years.
Their answers really hit home for me. I started to take notes and here’s a sampling of what I saw:
NFL or NBA player
Developing space ships at NASA
A TV Reporter for the Today Show
Getting my MBA at Harvard
Graduating from Med School
A Movie Star
A Singer For a Major Rock Band
These kids are dreaming big, because they think they can. In fact, right now, they KNOW they can achieve their dreams. They are unstoppable and fearless.
As this age, you never hear kids say, “I could never do that. I’m not good enough.” It’s why we love children – their egos haven’t fully been developed to make them fearful. They haven’t yet hit obstacles that tell them their dreams may not occur – they are doing just that: dreaming.
But the sad thing is, over time, many of those kids will fall away from their dreams because someone will tell them they shouldn’t, couldn’t, can’t afford it, it’s stupid, not realistic, they can’t make money from it, etc. How many times has that happened to you?
I really wanted to be journalist, and more specifically, I wanted Katie Couric’s job on the Today Show. In fact, my high school year book predicted that I would be a TV morning show reporter in 20 years.
But it never happened. I had lots of people telling me I shouldn’t, or that it was no pay in the beginning, or I would have to live in some no-where town reporting dumb stories.
If I didn’t actually listen to those who discouraged me, I wonder where I would have ended up.
But here’s the cool thing – I dusted off the dream of being a writer and made it happen, 25 years after I first dreamed of doing it.
Your dreams don’t have to stop. They may get put on hold. Life may get in the way. But if you had a dream when you were in the 5th grade, and you still wonder what life would be like had you done it, then it means your candle is still burning. The worst thing anyone can do is blow out their hopes and dreams. Don’t let that be you.
But let’s also get practical. Your dream of being a rock star may not exactly come true – but you could always lean into it! You could dust off your guitar, join a local band, start singing in your living room, and give a concert at your local coffee shop. Your dream is the act of singing and performing, not just the fame that comes with it.
I wasn’t able to become a reporter at 35 years old – yes, that ship had sailed – who would have hired me? So instead, I became my own reporter, writing about topics that interested me, blogging, and publishing my work on Facebook. For me, there is nothing more rewarding to see my byline on something that I wrote, even if it was just on social media.
By me leaning into that dream, something drastically shifted. I became passionate again. I found a purpose, one that was truly my own and didn’t require me to depend on others to get it. And that passion led to me starting my business.
I may not be on Good Morning America, but I now have a radio show, a blog read by thousands of people, and when something really inspires me, I write about it on Huffington Post. Not only am I coach, but I’m finally the journalist I wanted to be – and I have never felt more fulfilled in my life.
So what’s your dream and how can you dust it off? If you wanted to be a move star, perhaps you can audition for your local theater group? Don’t ever say, “It’s too late.” You’re in a life transition right now – in fact, it’s perfect timing! Go out and do it!
I no longer dream about being Katie Couric. Instead, I dream about her interviewing me – and who knows, it might just happen!
The other night I couldn’t sleep (gotta love being over 40), and I turned on the TV at 3 am and watched the movie, Revolutionary Road.
If you aren’t familiar with the picture, it depicts Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet as a young married couple in the 1950s, living a seeming perfect life. They live in Connecticut, in their cute, suburban Cape Code home, located on Revolutionary Road.
The movie opens to Winslet performing in a play, and after the performance she is in the dressing room, looking miserable – as if she is hiding from her truth – that life isn’t turning out the way she wanted.
On the drive home from the play, DiCaprio begins to poke and prod Winslet, wanting to talk about what’s bothering her, yet she doesn’t want to talk. The argument gets so heated they have to pull off the road. They admit how much they hate each other, and the scene closes.
The next day, everything is fine. As if nothing happened between them. As if the truth wasn’t spoken. So they continued to live in denial.
Winslet suddenly has a brilliant idea – they should move to France – and escape their problems. Once she and her husband agree on this idea, their lives return to joyful bliss. They go back to being madly in love.
But their joyful bubble bursts when she finds out she is pregnant. He wants to keep the baby and not move to France, and she wants to end the pregnancy and pursue their dreams. They spiral back into their miserable state as a couple, spitting vitriol and threats. Their marriage is borderline abusive, and it ends tragically.
This movie is a haunting replica of my first marriage. Winslet’s dream of wanting more for herself, feeling like a caged bird, hating suburbia and the fake people that come with it – this was all me.
And every time I came so close to honoring my truth within – a massive argument would ensue. It was often violent, with door slamming and name calling – yet because I felt like I couldn’t escape it – I would retreat into denial. I would act like everything was fine.
It was easier to ignore what I wanted, so I did what Winslet tried to do.
Instead of wanting to go to France, I would want to move, find a new job, have another baby – these things would allow me to further escape from my truth, and provide a wonderful distraction.
Until they all failed – I would get laid off from my job. The house contract would fall through. I would have a miscarriage.
Back to my reality I went – and I slipped deeper into my prison.
It’s amazing what we can do to sabotage our own truth. We create false dreams or goals. We make excuses. We go on vacation. Or we delve into a never ending project. All to avoid what we are meant to look at – ourselves.
But after the projects are finished, or perhaps they implode, you’ll always be back, sitting face to face with yourself once again.
And here’s where I went wrong – that “prison,” as I called it – was only a prison because I perceived it to be.
In fact, it wasn’t a prison at all. It was an awakening.
My truth was actually calling me to freedom – and the reason why everything went wrong, and the arguing ensued, and the misery expanded, was because I chose to ignore it. I was, in fact, meant to do all the things I dreamed about! (And I have!)
So if you are avoiding your truth, putting off that hard conversation, planning a vacation when you know you should be planning your future, realize that the discomfort you feel is just the Divine pushing you forward.
If you live on your own Revolutionary Road – where you feel imprisoned by your own home or situation – just trust that it’s merely a shelter. Think of it as a lean-to, and once the storm passes, you’ll be out walking in the sunshine.
Don’t pretend it’s fine when it’s not. Don’t bury your problem under a project. Face it.
Look at your situation like it’s a winning lottery ticket, not a daunting task.
All you need to do is cash it in.
To your winnings.
After my divorce, I couldn’t wait to be in love. But I was like a bull in a china shop – I couldn’t wait to date, and I dated just about anyone who asked me out. Even worse, I wanted to date people who DIDN’T ask me – yeah, I was one of THOSE girls, giving my number out to anyone I thought was cute (I don’t recommend this, no one called me).
But I learned something about myself while dating – I started to fall for guys too easily – perhaps even after a few dates. It reminded me of my first kiss in 7th grade. Paul was his name – and my friends arranged a time for me to meet him after school. We met in a romantic spot – under the school stairwell that smelled of urine and stale candy wrappers – and he greeted me with a warm, loving salutation of, “Hey, wanna kiss?”
I said, “Sure,” and he slipped his tongue in my mouth a couple of times, and then he ran off.
That’s when I knew. I was going to marry him. I was in love.
But he dumped me 2 days later in Spanish class, via a note passed to me by 5 kids, who all read it before I did. (But to give him credit, his break up was in Spanish. His mom would be proud.)
Yep, and at 35 years old, things weren’t all that different, sadly. After a few dates and a kiss at my front door step, I assumed the relationship was perfect.
But the truth was, I wasn’t just looking for love. I was looking for someone to rescue me. And it took me a lot of heartbreak to figure that out.
So how do you know if you’re needing to be rescued? Here are some clues:
On the second date you’re wondering if they’ll make a great parent or step-parent.
When you text, “Thanks for a great night,” and they don’t respond immediately, you start to panic and worry that they don’t like you. So you check your phone incessantly until they do.
And when you finally get a text back, “Thanks, I had a great time too,” you read the text 50 times, trying to squeeze more meaning out of it.
Or if you don’t get a text at all, you feel like you’re in middle school, rejected once again. To the point where it ruins your day and you can no longer concentrate.
When you’re finally dating, and you’re beginning to fall for them, you make plans for the weekend, but the plans may not be finalized, so you obsess whether they will truly happen. You’re so looking forward to your plans, but when you get that text, “Hey, my kid is sick and I won’t be able to hang out this weekend,” you don’t trust the facts and you wonder if you’re being blown off. You stalk their Facebook to find evidence of them telling the truth, and you’re pretty much unraveled because your plans for the weekend have been broken.
When they’re mad or upset with you, you do anything to change and make sure YOU don’t do anything more to piss them off. You take full responsibility for the relationship, and make excuses as to why it was likely your fault. You find a way to rationalize the fall-out because you’re worried that you’ll lose the relationship.
I could go on and on with this list – but do you see the pattern here? If this is you, it means you feel you’re not in control, and you feel like you’re their yo-yo or puppet. And the painful truth is this: you’re afraid of being alone.
And when you’re afraid of being alone, it means there is something deep within you that you resent. You can’t stand being alone with that thing you resent, so only another person can make that thing you resent go away – but only temporarily, until that person is gone.
By the way, that list above is from personal experience – I did this too, I admit it. It took me a long time to figure out what I resented about myself, but here it is, in all its glory:
I resented that I was divorced.
I resented that I was a single mother – embarrassed, even.
I resented that I had no money, and eating off of chipped plates from Ikea, at 35 years old.
But I got sick of this resentment. It did not serve me at all. So I changed my outlook from resentment to resurrection. So what if I was divorced? So what if people judged me for the lack of nice plates and cutlery? So the hell what!
Once I stepped into my “so what,” oh my God, it set me free. I no longer cared for someone to rescue me. Because I learned to rescue myself.
And so can you.
So how do you know when you’re ready for love? When you no longer NEED it.
Being ready doesn’t mean you are getting something from someone. It also doesn’t mean you are giving something to someone. It means you are exchanging – equally, harmoniously, and without be attached to the outcome of the exchange.
Rescue thyself, and love will follow. I promise you!
I work with a lot of women who are separated but still going through divorce or custody proceedings – and for so many of them, this stage of divorce wreaks havoc on their lives.
Although this person is out of their lives, he is still able to manipulate, threaten, taunt the children, and gain mental control over their estranged ex-wife.
And so often people ask me, “Do I continue to fight him or do I just let it go and walk away with nothing?”
This is certainly a dilemma, but let’s dissect it.
First, check in with yourself to see where your ex holds power over you. When you open an email or text, do you get anxious? Do you start shaking and feel nauseous? When you read his accusations do you feel less worthy, and that perhaps there’s some truth to what he’s saying? Or maybe you’re worried that other believe will believe him, so you cower and feel helpless.
If you answer yes to any of these, then he still has mental control over you – he is bullying you and the system, and when a bully acts so powerful, so many people want to give up and let them win.
The painful irony of divorcing a high conflict person is that you are forced to have boundaries with someone who never respected them to begin with. So after years of abuse and conflict, how on earth will you suddenly gain the strength to win a battle that was never meant to be won?
But you can, if you change your mindset on how you view this person.
Think of your ex as a child, and that they view the entire divorce as a playground, to which they will bully their way to win. When they start to lose, they make threats, but you must look at this as a temper tantrum. The more they lose, the more they cry and whine and try to undermine you.
Every time you open an email or text, you must look at this way. If you’re child comes to you asking to have a candy bar before dinner, you laugh at such a notion, or at least brush it off, knowing that he or she doesn’t know any better. You must do the same with your ex.
When you see your ex as a child, you gain back your power.
If someone walked into your house, and tried to take away everything that belonged to you, would you let this person do it? I would hope not – I would want you to fight for what’s yours!
However – and here’s the other side to it – if your ex is draining you financially, potentially causing you to be homeless and broke – you need to have a long conversation with your attorney, discussing whether you forfeit this game.
But… if you can change your mindset, and not let the divorce BE your life, and just manage it as a really crappy chore, you may mitigate financial drain, because you aren’t controlled by him.
So many people tell me, “Once the divorce is final, I can’t wait to live my life again.”
Wait, why would the divorce prevent you from living now? Yes, your housing may be up in the air, you may be living in a crappy apartment or money is tighter, but it doesn’t mean your life has to be put on hold until this is over.
The more you see this life event as just that – an unpleasant event – you may be able to feel less controlled by it.
In my divorce, I gave up on a few things that I now regret. I let him have a lot of assets that would have benefitted me financially – especially now. But I was intimidated, felt guilty, felt controlled – and I look back on it and think, “What was I so afraid of?” Because I now see my ex as nothing more than someone who lives across town – he holds no power over me anymore.
If had the mindset back then, I’m pretty sure the outcome would have benefited me more.
Your divorce may be tricky and complicated – my goodness, I have heard some awful stories, and I never want to downplay anyone’s distress – but if you put on your big girl pants and tell your inner child that this guy isn’t gonna mess with you, you may find this to be a lot easier.
Choose to live today. Not when the divorce is finalized. Don’t forget to laugh. Enjoy the simple pleasures in life. You don’t need a big vacation to celebrate life right now.