Archive | August, 2011

Building Character

30 Aug

When I was a little kid my dad used to tell me that losing  “builds character.”  He meant it in relation to when your team didn’t win or you didn’t come home with that science fair trophy.  At the time, I didn’t really understand what he meant.  I didn’t really understand he meant until very recently – when I underwent one of the most significant losses in my life –  my dream of a family life.  Very recently I realized that what my dad meant was that losing something important to you forces you to undergo a transformation – it forces you to evolve – to find a greater meaning than the  one thing you feel like you just lost.  

Losing the life I thought I wanted has forced me to undergo a transformation – to take on a journey to find myself.  I realized that I read “Eat, Love, Pray” by Elizabeth Gilbert too soon – I read it when my son was a newborn.  I didn’t really understand what message Ms. Gilbert was saying at the time (that’s how lost a new mother can be in her new life!).  

I recall that I thought  the protagonist was pretty whiny and I didn’t understand her personal struggle.   However, there are times when I reflect on her book and I totally understand her message.    While I still don’t love her book like many others have, I can, like I think many woman can, relate to her feeling of claustrophobia within her marriage and her rethinking the life’s path she took before she awoke one day and said this isn’t working for me.  

  She was a very lucky woman to have the opportunity and luxury to take one year off from her life to find herself and to forgive herself and heal – not many people can do that.  I certainly do not have that luxury (although there are many days I wish I did).  Even without the good fortune of being able to take a year out of my life to focus on myself, I am doing just that every day within the fabric of my life.   I, like Ms. Gilbert, am searching for all that she was searching for  – food to feed my soul (albeit more of a vegetarian/vegan ilk); I am on a desperate search for  spirituality (a hope to feel connected to my soul and the divine) and of course, I am hoping to find true, healthy lasting love.

Everyday I tell myself, I am grateful for this challenge in my life, the challenge of being a single parent, the challenge that is making me grow and evolve into a stronger, more balanced woman.   I hope that one day I will produce something that has touched the lives of others – just as Ms. Gilbert has with her book – but for me my production would not be a best-selling novel or a made for the silver screen film.  Instead, my production, I hope, would be that I can finally be a peace with myself and help others to be at peace with themselves too.

I hope you take the time to be thankful for the challenge that you are undergoing at the moment and have the knowledge that this challenge is encouraging you to grow and evolve into a more beautiful person.


Little Tremors

28 Aug

This week NYC (and most of the East Coast) has undergone not one but two Acts of God: tremors resulting from an earthquake in Virginia and Hurricane Irene.   These two events highlighted to me that I am all by myself.  I needed to take action to support my son and I during both of these events.  There was no one to say to me – I’ll get the milk, you get the water, let’s cook together and make sure we have flashlights.  The day of the tremors I immediately went to my son’s daycare center to make sure he was alright.  There was no one else to consult of whether I should get him or is he safer there.  I made the decision my gut told me to and I picked up him from his nap and brought him to outside of the buildings.   In the end it was a non-event but at the time I had no partner to ask what is the best thing to do.  I imagined my life with a partner to consult – and now it is all up to me.  It makes me feel lonely that during these times of natural disasters – I am virtually by myself.

Walking the streets of NYC this afternoon, assessing the damage Hurricane Irene unleashed here, I observed all of the families and couples and I wonder to myself – “why don’t I have that?”  My immediate reaction is to ask why am I not good enough for someone to want “THAT” with me.   This way of thinking forces me into a downward spiral of negativity and sadness. 

In order to stop these negative thoughts, I am slowly whispering to myself that anyone who gives me a chance will learn that I am special and that any person who gives me a chance will realize that he is lucky to have found me (instead of me wondering if I am good enough for the person I am dating).   I am learning that what meaning we ascribe to events in our life  that impacts how we see ourselves and perhaps who we attract.  It was not easy to spend this weekend by myself but I realize now that I should focus on the negative thoughts, instead, during this lonely time in my life, I vow to get to know myself so that I will grow to love myself and next time I decide to enter into a relationship –  I will know that person is lucky to have found me and I will not doubt myself again.   My love for myself will hopefully set the base for a fulfilling and healthy relationship.

Putting Trust in the Universe/the Divine

25 Aug

Do  you trust that whatever experience that you are having is a lesson to help you evolve and  grow to be the person you are meant to be?  I want so much to believe in this concept.  I want so much to believe that when I suffer or have pain in my life it is to teach me something and help me grow into the person I am meant to be.

Today I learned that each of us has some designated contract with our soul.  That people walk into and out of our lives for a reason  – they are part of that contract.  These people offer us something we need to learn.  I have accepted this concept before but I totally neglected it as I have been so wrapped up in mourning the loss of my most recent relationship.

I am divorced and I am happy I had the experience of being married and divorced. I have no regrets.  I have said to so many who say that they are sorry that I am divorced (as if someone had died)- that it is the best thing that could have happened to me.  I escaped a terrible marriage that would have destroyed my soul if I were to stay.  Second, I would not have my son if it wasn’t for that union.  Third, I would not have learned as much about myself as I have in the last few years since I ended that relationship.  The end of my marriage sent me on a journey to learn about myself. 

Today I need to remind myself that my most recent relationship taught me many lessons.  The relationship was actually a gift to me.  I must accept that the  relationship ended because that person has already taught me a lesson and now I must wait for my next lesson.  My soul was finished learning what it needed to learn from him.   

  I must trust in the power of the divine .  I know the universe had answered my prayers and calls for help when I needed it most and the universe has proven that  it is listening to me and my needs – and it will fulfill my needs but I must have patience.

Falling in love with ….my running feet

23 Aug

I’m mom who lives in New York City who is always moving – hence citymammaonthe run.  However, it is not just that I am always moving – I absolutely love to run!  I fell in love with running a few years back when I was looking for a way to drop the last few of my baby pounds that I held onto and to escape my lonely marriage. I think most runners find running when they are looking to escape something.  The more I ran, the more I fell in love.  It was all I could think about. My eating, my sleeping and my social schedule began to be dictated by my new lover — running.  I even purchased a treadmill to be able to run when my son was sleeping or if there was inclement weather.  Well, like any new lover, running became suffocated.  I didn’t do anything but run and sooner rather than later, my right leg gave up on me.  I was only a few weeks away from the NYC marathon and had completed all of my long runs when my right leg and foot wouldn’t move.  It just wouldn’t go.  No matter how much I thought about making it work – it refused. 

Well, my body caught up with me.  All of that loneliness, all of that emotional pain that I was trying to escape concentrated into tiny knots along my right leg all the way down to the tiny ligaments and muscles in my foot.  I never really understood the connection between mind and body until the point when my body stopped working for me.  The one thing I knew was a sure way to escape my loneliness, that would give me some endorphins and make me stop thinking about my life, anger and saddness  – walked away from me.  My body told me that I had to stop and listen. 

 For a long time I felt like running rejected me.  I couldn’t figure out what I did wrong.  I felt like I was rejected by running and I was dwelling in my saddness.  During this time, I was able to connect with that saddness, release it and most recently I released some repressed anger. I have been working on releasing anger as it does not come from me naturally.  I’ve been writing my anger down and it has a profound impact on my ability to understand myself  and all of that pain that I couldn’t get out for so many years.

It  has been about 7 months since I was able to get my body to go the distance.  Today I did over 5 miles.  It was the longest run I have had since December.  It was like falling in love all over again.  I ran at dusk and saw New York City glimmering before me as I ran downtown along the east river.  I had a smile across my face.  I finally felt complete.  I am not a competive runner but inside me runs like one.  

Do you value yourself?

22 Aug

I’ve learned something about myself in the last few years – I am constantly looking for places outside of myself to determine my value.  While I notice it in all aspects of my life, this searching for value by judgments made by others is most evident in my romantic relationships.

Everytime a relationship has failed, no matter how dysfunctional the other person was, I repeatedly told myself that I was not valuable and that is why it ended.  Why am I so hard on myself?  Why don’t I love myself? My value should not be determined by others, it should be determined by my own love for myself.  

 I know this began with my relationship with my parents.  As a child, I was constantly looking for my parents approval.  Am  I good girl? Did I do a good job?  Are my parents proud of me? Do they think I am a good student? Am I being a good big sister?

As a teenager, I looked to my peers for my value. Am I cool? Do I have a lot of friends? How do I fit in with my friends?  Do they want to call me and hang out with me enough?

At the office, I looked for value in what my boss thought of me, my clients and my colleagues.  Does my boss think I’m good at my job? Do my clients think I represent them well? Do my colleagues respect my work?  In my profession, I always hear other people say “he’s good”, “he’s terrible,” “she’s not technical enough”.  There are constant judgments to be made about a colleague.  It sometimes seems that what people say about a colleague is the truth.

As a parent, I’m looking for my value in what other parents think of me.  Of course, I am even more worried about what they think of me since I am single parent.

As an adult, I have been looking my value in my romantic relationships.  I told myself time and time again that if I had value than some man would love me.  I feel  like I have failed at romantic relationships.  I was married for a short period of time and divorced.   I blamed myself for the failure of my marriage for a very long time.    I told myself I had no value because I was divorced.  If I had value, I would be married.  As we discussed before, what we say to ourselves is very important because it becomes the truth to ourselves.  My diminished value became my truth.

I have worked hard to recover my belief in my value.    Recently, with the end of this very recent relationship I told you about, I started to question my value again. I believed that if “he” valued me, he would not have let me go so easily.  I have been struggling to stop this thought running through my head.  It has been difficult.  I’ve been searching for value outside myself for 34 years.   It is not easy to change.  However, I can no longer allow anyone else to decide my value.  I must let my truth be that I AM VALUABLE.   In order to do that I have a list of things that I think about each time I have that negative thought about myself.  I remind myself of all that I have accomplished in my life.  I need to show my son that I know I am valuable and I need to teach him that he cannot base his value on what others think of him but only on what he thinks of himself.   

It is what we think of ourselves that is most important because that is what others will think of us.

A Summer Storm

20 Aug

A few weeks ago my son and I were taking the bus home from school with his classmate and his classmate’s mom.  As we got off the bus approximately two blocks from our apartment, the rain began teaming down.  We were caught at the bus stop without an umbrella.   Thankfully, we were waiting in the bus shelter.  As many of you New York City dwellers, getting caught in the rain without an umbrella is a tough proposition to be in as there usually are not any cabs available for hailing at this time!

We stopped in the bus shelter when my son and his classmate thought it would be fun to run in and out of the bus shelter and get a few drops of the heavy rain on them.  However, as with most boys, they began to test their boundaries with mother nature and how far and fast they can go from the bus shelter and not get so wet.   We noticed how much fun they were having and my friend offered that we run home in the rain because it did not look like it would begin to slow down anytime soon.  My initial reaction was – no way  I didn’t want to get wet. 

I watched the boys for a few more minutes run in and out of the rain and their laughter was so sweet and natural.  They had true belly laughs trying to beat out mother nature at this bus shelter.  A few minutes later I agreed with my friend to try to make  a run for it in the teeming rain. 

We ran the two blocks together in that pouring rain holding our little boys hands.  I have never done that in my entire life. We were soaked from head to toe.  However, my son and I enjoyed that moment. All four of us were laughing and smiling so hard that it was worth the risk of getting a little wet on that hot summer night.  I am glad I took the moment to watch my son enjoy that innocent game of running in and out of the rain at the bus shelter.  It taught me that I need to test my boundaries every once inawhile and not be afraid to get my feet wet.


19 Aug

How important are words in our lives?  I think that words are very important.  Some might say that words are meaningless and quote the old adage – “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt.”  I definitely do not agree with this old adage.

 Names do hurt.  I know this from personal experience.  When someone constantly calls you a name -you believe it.  When you constantly tell yourself something about yourself, you believe it – whether it is right or wrong.

I am very careful to never tell my son that he is a bad boy.  Instead, I tell him that his behavior is unacceptable and that I know he is a good, loving boy.  I’m attempting to instill in him a sense of confidence and to not ever make him think of himself as a bad boy.  He is not a bad boy.  He is the most special boy I have ever met.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately – much of it is self-help.  I am currently reading, “You can heal Your Life” by Louise L. Hay.  She begins her book with a very powerful statement – “What we think about ourselves becomes the truth for us”.

This has struck me as a very important affirmation.  If we tell our selves we are “fat” everyday even if we are not – then it will become the truth for us.  If we tell our children that they are bad everyday – they will internalize that and it will become the truth for them. 

I have been trying to say nice things to myself.  However, this is difficult.  Why is it so difficult for me to say nice things to myself?  Unfortunately, I’ve been spending the last 34 years telling myself that I’m not special and I’m not good enough.  This has become my truth.  I am sure that my friends and family would disagree with me and my brain knows that this is probably not true – but this is what I tell myself and this is what I feel about myself.  No wonder I ended up marrying a total sociopath!  The truth I told myself was that I wasn’t good enough for anyone else but him.  I was wrong. It took me years to learn that I was wrong and that these “words” I tell myself are not nice and hurtful.

The gentleman that just most recently touched my soul told me that he can’t date me because he is not good enough for me, that I can do better.  I know he means this.  He’s not just saying this to get rid of me. He’s not that type of person.   I have been devastated over this breakup because I know he is the most special man I have ever met.  Actually, I thought I wasn’t good enough for him.  How ironic is that?  The difference between he and I though, is that I go to therapy every week and we have been working on the things that I tell myself.  He, unfortunately, is not attending to these matters of his inner life. 

There is nothing I can do to change how he thinks of himself.  He needs to do that.  Just as I need to change my conversation with myself.   This conversation reminded me that in order to survive his grieving period, this post-breakup period, I need to speak nicely to myself as well.  Instead of saying that I’m a failure at relationships, that no one will ever love me because I am not special enough to be loved.  I must find some nice words to say about myself.  Something my sister or my friends would say.  Wow, this is hard.  Can you believe how difficult it is for me to find nice things to say about myself?

Ms. Hay says that “we are responsible for everything in our lives, the best and the worst.  Every thought we think is creating our future.  The thoughts we think and the words we speak create our experiences.”  If you believe this, and I do, her statement  means we have complete control over our lives to make it the life we want.  We have the power to get the best life possible for ourselves.  If I have the power to do that with my words then I best be speaking nicely to myself and my son.  My journey of the soul is to make sure that my son and I have the best life possible.  If today is not the day we start talking nicely to ourselves, then when do we do it?

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