Family law attorney Marlene Pontrelli knows the road you're traveling. After more than thirty years of practice, she has guided hundreds of individuals through the maze of divorce. She knows divorce is more than just a legal action.
In Daily Meditations for Healing from Divorce, Pontrelli addresses the emotional side of ending a marriage. She offers daily meditations filled with uplifting advice that will comfort and guide you toward acceptance of a new beginning filled with opportunities. A Personal Meditation for Each Day of the Year
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Daily Meditations for Healing from Divorce
Discovering the New You
By Marlene A. Pontrelli
Addicus Books, Inc.Copyright © 2016 Marlene A. Pontrelli, Esq
All rights reserved.
Day 1. Are you ready to begin the healing process? The first step is commitment to the process. You must be ready to commit to the process of healing and recognizing that you can live happily. If you are not ready, put this book down and wait. Pick it up again when you are ready. You must be open to the suggestions in the book and vow to do each step. Some days you will be taken out of your comfort zone, and that is all right. The process is not meant to be easy. Nothing worthwhile usually is. It takes hard work and dedication. So here goes.
Look in the mirror today. Tell yourself that you are a good person and deserve to be happy. Go ahead, smile. It looks good on you. That's the goal here: to keep that smile in place without it being forced as it may be right now. Now tell yourself that you are committed to making your life better. You are going to take it one step at a time, one day at a time, and, sometimes, just one moment at a time, but you are going to do it and you are going to be happy.
Day 2. Focus on what you are grateful for today. There is an old saying, "Count your blessings." Rarely do most people do that throughout the day — really stop and count all their blessings. If they did, they would find them too numerous to count. Today, try seeing if you can count all your blessings. Start with the easy ones that apply to you: seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, good health for you and your family members, friends (go ahead and name them out loud). Now, throughout the day, take random inventory of all the blessings in your life. Tonight, write down all the things you came up with to be grateful for throughout the day. When you look over your list, you realize that counting your blessings really does visually show how much you have to be thankful for.
Day 3. Strive to live in the here and now. Life is an accumulation of moments that are ever-changing. And life never seems to calm down long enough for us to start living the life we plan. How many times have you said "I'll start tomorrow" or "I'll begin next week?" Well, stop putting things off or there may never be the right time to start. The first step is always the most difficult. However, by picking up this book you are already on your way. If you have had difficulty doing the first two exercises and making time for yourself in the morning and the evening to reflect on the day's meditation, vow to start today. Take six minutes in the morning to consider the meditations and six minutes in the evening to reflect on the meditation and what you accomplished during the day. You deserve to give yourself at least twelve minutes a day. That's all it takes. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Remember, "The journey of a thousand miles always begins with a single step." (Chinese proverb) Think about that today as you go about your day. Consider it again tonight. Tell yourself you are ready to start and make a difference in someone's life ... yours!
Day 4. Don't wait until you feel like making changes — make the changes now and your feelings will "catch up." Sociologists tell us that we are what we appear to be. Today, regardless of how you are feeling on the inside, you are going to "put on a happy face." (Remember those lyrics from the musical Bye-Bye Birdie ? If not, take some time to look them up. It may just cheer you up.)
Today, your task is to smile at everyone you meet. Challenge yourself to see if it doesn't make you feel better. For just one day, set all negative thoughts aside. If they creep in, force them away. No thinking negative thoughts today — there is always time for that tomorrow. You are giving your mind a rest today. Today, deal with what is necessary and only with what is necessary. If someone tries to force you into dealing with hefty issues today, tell them you will deal with those issues tomorrow. This is just one day out of 365 days in the year. You can take a break from having to think about anything negative for one day. That's not too much to ask for, is it? Go ahead, start your day with a smile and make sure to end it the same way.
Day 5. Take time to find your "calm" in a special place at the beginning of the day. I am amused at books that tell us to take an hour at the beginning of the day to meditate, think, relax, and do something for yourself. Many people don't have an hour or even half an hour extra in the day to do this.
However, even though you are taking only six minutes at the beginning of the day and six minutes at the end of the day to reflect on these meditations, the goal is the same: to calm yourself before the day officially begins. It is a worthy endeavor and should be undertaken.
My six minutes in the morning comes after I check e-mails and voice messages, shower, and feed the dog. Six minutes over a cup of hot coffee, looking out my picture window, and writing in my journal is usually all I get and most days it is all I need. Today, take inventory of your surroundings and find your special place — your sanctuary. You have been at this now for five days. Where do you take your six minutes of morning time? Find a place that is all yours. Make it comfortable. Is it a favorite chair? A favorite room? Look for some special item to help make this your special spot. Maybe it's a pillow, or a cozy throw blanket, or a framed picture of a favorite place. Every morning, make this your place where you will spend your six minutes of morning time, meditating on the reading for the day and calming yourself to set the stage for the rest of the day. This time is all yours. No one can take it away from you. Enjoy.
Day 6. If you repeat a positive action over and over, it will become a habit. Behavior psychologists say that if you do something for ninety days, it becomes a habit. I believe they are right. One day I gave up soda, and sure enough, after ninety days, I couldn't even imagine having a soda. Truthfully, after a few weeks, I had no desire to have a soda. However, I had told myself I would try it for ninety days, and if I wanted to have one after ninety days I would. I didn't, and that was eight years ago. So give some thought today to a habit you always wanted to develop. Is it exercising, writing, eating five fruits and vegetables a day? What lifelong habit would you like to develop? Don't put pressure on yourself to actually commit to doing it. Rather, today you are just brainstorming and thinking of healthful habits you would like to develop. Be creative. If you can't think of anything immediately, don't force it. Throughout the day thoughts will come to you. Tonight, spend your six minutes thinking about it again. See what ideas you come up with.
Day 7. Start a journal and discover who you really are. Today, you will have made it through your first week! If you made it this far, you can do this, so now it's time to get serious. Pick up a journal today. It can be as simple as a composition notebook or as fancy as you like. You choose. This will be your discovery journal. We are going to use this journal for multiple purposes going forward, and it will be all about discovering who you are, what you want, and where you are headed.
Tonight, after you have purchased your journal, spend some time writing down everything that is bothering you right now. Everything you are worried about should go onto the pages of your journal. This may include worries such as where you will live, if you will ever fall in love again, how the children will react, what your friends will think. Then get specific. What is it about where you will live that you are worried about? Is it the money? Lack of friends? Family support? Make your thoughts as free flowing as possible. Do not limit yourself.
Even if you are only marginally worried about something, write it down! Make sure to date the page. Now commit to do this every night for the next week. You'll be surprised at how the number of worries you write down will become fewer and fewer as the days go on. The purpose of this exercise is to catch all the thoughts you are worried about and release them to the pages of your journal. Practice catch and release for the next week. If it helps, keep it up. It may just become a habit.
Day 8. Focus on what you can bring to your future. Avoid dwelling on the past. Frodo in the Lord of the Rings comments at one point: "How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart you begin to understand there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep, that have taken hold." (J.R.R. Tolkien) The answer is, just as Frodo found: we do not try to go back. Our lives are changing. Going back is not an option. We can only move forward. Only by moving forward can we begin to live happily once again. Today, recognize that there is no going back. Accept the challenge to move forward. Throughout the day, remind yourself that your journey is to move forward. After all, new adventures are waiting for you. Consider the possibilities.
Day 9. You deserve to be happy. Discover what brings you happiness. This book is about your own self-discovery and awareness of what makes you happy. Have you ever really considered what makes you happy? We all know that happiness isn't something that you can buy or borrow from others. It's an emotion. It's a feeling of contentment. What causes you to have these feelings? Consider today what makes you happy. We cannot go about finding what makes us happy unless we know what it is that we are looking for. Certainly, our external surroundings provide us security, but do they really bring us happiness? We have often heard that money cannot buy happiness, but does economic security bring that feeling of contentment or joy to us?
Today, ponder on the things that really make you happy. This evening, after you have given this some thought both in your six minutes in the morning and throughout the day, make a list of what you believe makes you happy. Are these things that you have control over, or are they totally in the control of someone else? Put a checkmark next to all the things that you have control over, and cross out all the things that are in someone else's control. Some things may be a bit of both. Anything on your list that is partially in your control put a circle around it. Periodically, you will come back to this list and see if your circles change to checkmarks or if they need to be crossed out. This exercise is not as easy as it seems. It is often hard to determine what we have control over and what we do not. Once you recognize, though, that you can control only so much, you should start to feel the burden of trying to control everything lifted. We are going to spend time concentrating on what you do have control over and what you can do over the next weeks and months to take control over your happiness.
Day 10. Expect obstacles and move forward. "Life is difficult," wrote Robert Peck in The Road Less Traveled. He explains that life goes from one problem to the next and it is working out and solving those problems that determine how we live. Some might interpret Peck's pronouncement that life is difficult as being pessimistic. However, in reality it should give you great comfort. When we start seeing life not as the perfect path that runs straight and smooth but rather as a continuum of bumps and turns, we begin to expect the obstacles. Once our expectations are more aligned with reality we can anticipate the roadblocks and challenges, and find ways around them. In a way, this is actually very exciting — almost like a good movie where you are kept on the edge of your seat not knowing what will happen next. Isn't that really how life is? Our goal is to plan as if we know what lies ahead, but at the same time be ready at all times for the unexpected.
Look back in your journal entry from Day 7, where you wrote down everything that was bothering you. How many of those were things you could have anticipated or problems you could have avoided? If you think you could have avoided them, how would you have done that?
The problems or things that are worrying you are likely things that you do not have control over. Accept that. Remember, you can only move forward. Some things are just unavoidable — that's what life is about. Any modifications you want to make to your list?
Day 11. Recognize that you are in control of your own rewards. There are going to be times in your divorce or separation when things will happen that you do not like. There may be behaviors exhibited, positions taken, even rulings that occur in the course of your life that you will not like. There may even be times you will become angry, upset, and disappointed and feel like shouting that you want it all to stop. However, that is not a choice you have. You cannot change events, just as you cannot change the days of the weeks or the time of day.
However, you do have a choice in how you respond to things that are happening in your life. You can wallow in self-pity, you can point blame on others, you might even point blame on yourself. None of that is productive. What is productive is telling yourself that no one has control over how you feel and no one can stop you from giving the best you have to give every day. It may not seem like it now, but the rewards will come and will be everlasting.
Day 12. Take a personal inventory. Take a personal inventory — when is the last time you felt truly happy? What did it feel like? Not what it looked like, and by that I mean not that you had a house, a new car, a hug from a loved one, or celebrated the birth of a child. But rather, think about some time that you knew you were happy and what were you feeling. How did it feel? Were you excited? Were you lighthearted? Did you feel calm? That is the feeling we are trying to recapture through this journey. Keep that feeling in mind. You need to understand what it feels like so you know how to recognize it when it occurs again.
Sometimes, happiness is not what we feel, but what we do not feel. We know the days we are angry, sad, or teary. There are days we can't eat, we do not feel like doing anything, we feel hopeless and empty. There are days we cannot concentrate on anything or we lose focus on things if we try. Life is funny that way. We search so much for happiness, but in reality, what we are really searching for is to avoid unhappiness. If you are having a hard time capturing the remembrance of the feeling of happiness, think about a time when you were not sad or angry. What did that feel like? Where were you? What were you doing? Remember the feeling. That feeling will come again.
Day 13. Focus on gratitude — it's a great tool for chasing away the blues. I have a plaque in my office that reads: "Begin each day with a grateful heart." Just like counting our blessings, we have so much to be grateful for every day. Today, begin a new habit. Each night, record in your journal at least five things you have to be grateful for that occurred that day, and each morning, read your journal entries from the night before. It will take only a few seconds to scan your list each morning, but it will help you begin each day with a grateful heart. This journal is often referred to as a "gratitude journal." Studies have found that people who keep gratitude journals are happier in life. You will find that as you begin to record and recognize the things you have to be grateful for you, will also begin to live a happier life.
Day 14. Savor the present moment. In Thornton Wilder's play Our Town, Emily Gibbs, asks, "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it — every, every minute?" Just as Emily's question is answered in the play, the answer is probably no. We sometimes fail to stop and savor each moment. Rather, life moves so quickly that we oftentimes feel as if we do not know where the day has gone. Still, there are times during the separation and divorce process when we may want life to move more quickly. We just want this time over as fast as possible. Like the bandage on a cut, we want it ripped off fast so that, although it hurts a little immediately, it is at least over quickly. Yet, even if the divorce paperwork can be done quickly, the process of healing, recovering, and moving forward takes time. Do not become discouraged over what seems like a lack of progress. Progress is being made whether you believe it or not. Each day gets you a bit closer to your total transformation. Go ahead, realize life today. Realize every single minute and savor each moment. This day will never come again. It will pass and be gone. Make it worth remembering.
Excerpted from Daily Meditations for Healing from Divorce by Marlene A. Pontrelli. Copyright © 2016 Marlene A. Pontrelli, Esq. Excerpted by permission of Addicus Books, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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