"Change, like a wedding or retirement, is  a singular event; transition, like the marriage or the rest of your life, is an ongoing process of adapting, inner transforming  and learning."


"In the middle of the road of my life I awoke in a dark wood where the true way was wholly lost."

- Dante  


"Life is much too short to stay stuck in the doldrums for very long."


"To your kids, it's a big deal that you are getting divorced, but how you get divorced is even more important.  Parents get divorced, but kids don't -- they need a healthy connection with both mom and dad."


"Life is like a 10 speed bike.  Most of us have gears we never use."

-Charles Schultz  


"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

- Mary Oliver


"The idea is to die young as late as possible."

- Ashley Montague


"Perhaps your life is filled with secret possibilities you never imagined."

- Robert Fritz  


"I was going to stop procrastinating but I decided to put it off."

- Anonymous


When you feel connected to something, that connection gives you a purpose for living."

- Jon Kabat-Zinn


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Divorcing, with Children

Divorcing when you have children has to be one of the most painful, scary and all-around difficult transitions we face as adults. It might be the ultimate crucible for testing our maturity and emotional intelligence, requiring a quick learning curve under conditions of duress and personal compromise.


While we're disengaging from a partner we once loved, and may even continue to love in some ways, we often function as temporary emotional train wrecks.  The rub is that while we wrestle with anger, grief, betrayal, confusion and mistrust, to name a few of our more likely emotions, we must also realize that our children have two parents and they divorce neither.  Even if we believe our ex-partner isn't the greatest parent, our children will retain their love and loyalty for them.  To assist their well-being, we must respect and honour their attachment and need for connection with their other parent. 


The challenge of divorcing, with children, is to separate our own hurt and need to disengage, from our children's need to process their feelings while staying connected to both mom and dad.  As one of two parents we each have rather complex dual roles, first, to disengage ourselves as cleanly as possible from our ex-partner, second, to foster our own relationship with our children, and third, to support, honour and encourage our children's relationship with their other parent.


Children do best with divorce when both parents maintain a strong, positive connection with their children, despite their own differences.  This outcome is found even when one parent has minimal parenting time or enjoys only intermittent involvement due to living at a distance.  Kids are very sensitive to our love, interest and involvement, and typically understand way more than we adults give them credit for. 


Crisis and Growth

"Often the experience of a personal crisis or a failure will constitute a basis for the creation of a personal vision, which in turn becomes the framework for a life of possibility."

                       - Zander & Zander,

                              The Art of Possibility

Oh how true!!  In fact, we often stay stuck in old ruts, with feelings of uncertainty, dissatisfaction and unhappiness, until some crisis or necessity forces us out of semi-denial and into action.  Whether we like it or not, a growth phase is thus triggered.  If you don't buy this idea, look at what's happening with our current economic meltdown, or with the global warming our lifestyles of excessive consumption are triggering.

I was fortunate on this score in my own life, although I sure didn't feel lucky when the crisis hit.  I was a young psychologist working with cancer patients and their families, which was an eye-opener in itself when young "kids" my own age came in for treatment of leukemia or some other life-threatening malignancy.  So when my first marriage fell apart around the same time my father suffered post-surgical complications and almost died from a gut infection, I was thrown into crisis.  A year later, my father went in for follow-up surgery and additional complications this time around did lead to his death after a long and lingering struggle.

I was devastated and confused by the end of my marriage, but like any good psychologist, I adopted the perspective that there must be something I was meant to learn by the loss.  Whether or not this notion is self-delusional, just adopting the perspective tends to restore some sense of control to one's life during a crisis, and I set out to learn how to live better, "with myself, for myself and by myself," so I'd be better prepared in my next relationship.

I was on this quest when my father died.  He had been healthy, clear-thinking and active, and at 75 years, wasn't exactly young but wasn't terribly old either.  A natural aspect of any intensive grieving process is a search for meaning, not only in the relationship and associated losses, but in the bigger questions such as "what is this life about anyway?" I was thrown into these questions in a big way, and did some serious soul-searching about what really mattered to me and where I wanted my life to go.

Over the next year or so, three priorities came up clearly.  I wanted to see more of the world, I wanted to develop my career, and I wanted to share my life with someone and start a family.  As my first priority, I knew that I didn't want to die before I had hiked in the Himalayas.  This dream set off a whole chain of events that taught me a profound understanding about the power of commitment.  I started scheming about where I wanted to go, saving money for the adventure.  When I approached my boss about taking time off, I was delighted to receive a year's Leave of Absence with about a year of lead time.

One of my colleague's gave me the following quotation as inspiration for the journey, and I've kept it close ever since:

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness, concerning all acts of initiative (and creation).  There is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas & splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.  All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.  A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents & meetings & material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.  Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.  Boldness has genius, power & magic in it.  Begin it now.

                                    - Goethe

Over the next several months I continued to absorb the meaning of this lesson, as people I hardly knew told me about places to visit, connected me to family members who were also going travelling around the same time, and gave me names and addresses of people in distant lands who would welcome a visit from a Canadian.  I was amazed and inspired by the unexpected momentum.  What had seemed like an exciting but solitary adventure came to be a shared excitement, catching the imaginations and good wishes of many.



Life Lessons from my dog

 First Snowfall, November 2008

My dog reminds me each and every day of several rudimentary but essential life lessons:

Attitude and energy!  She approaches each day anew, frisky and ready from the get-go, to play, explore, run, jump and generally live fully. 

Get your 10,000 steps in!  Try to ignore her need for at least two good walks a day, and she'll stare you down, follow you around without mercy, or drag out her toys in the living room and drop them on your lap.

Eat and drink well!  Lots of water and nutritious food on a regular basis, with a few mooched treats whenever I can get them.

Get your rest and relaxation! If I don't sleep and rest when I can, how will I chase down my four-legged friends, or give those rabbits a run for their money? 

Attend to your personal hygiene every day!  You know, clean between your toes, lick your fur down carefully, chew off the burrs and hairballs from your legs, and get the thorny twigs out of your tail.  Preferably, do all this before the rest of the pack has fallen asleep; your snoring is probably bad enough.

Ask for what you want, and the odds of fulfillment improve!  For example, if you love to be massaged and scratched, roll over on your back to invite tummy rubs; greet your loved ones with enthusiasm and excitement when they come in from work; and place your head on their lap with that "oh so sad, I need my ears scratched" look.

Keep yourself intellectually stimulated, in her case, with chase a stick, steal a ball, run with doggie friends, check out the squirrels in the kingdom, or train your owners to feed you cheese for the silliest of tricks.  They are so easily entertained, and once you get them trained, they generally give you few problems!!

The greatest pleasure is watching her everyday delight with the here and now, her enthusiasm for physical movement, her zest for simply being alive, and her presence to the moment.



On the Nature of Change & Transition


 (see www.phenomenologyonline.com/articles/clark.html



Awakening city, January 2008