The Pink Cloud

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When I originally left for Paris, I thought it would only be for a year. With that in mind, I rented my house completely furnished, packed or stored my personal belongings, found a new home for my beloved 88 lb “puppy” Bentley, left my car at my sister’s house, and then had a meltdown the night before I left.

Crazy huh? How could something as wildly exciting as a year in Paris suddenly kick me into panic?

My friend calls it the pink cloud. That initial phase of euphoria when what we are about to do looks like a movie; like when we are planning our wedding to the man who swept us off our feet promising us the sun, moon and stars.

We tend to “overlook” the actual marriage part in favor of color selections and flower choice. Which is why “reality” usually  hits us so hard, a few years into marriage. The pink cloud recedes and we are blinded by the light of day to day life. We begin to notice things we never paid much attention to before. Being women, we tend to compromise, give in or give up on those things and relationships that once made us happy in favor of “us”.

Stressors like starting a family, caring for parents, jobs and money create anxiety, fear, doubt. If our spouses don’t rise to these events, or worse, pull away or become angry and accusatory that adds sadness and anger, to the mix. I was all of those things in my marriage. Which I directed  at my husband of course, for not trying harder to make it work, (from my perspective).

But what really happened?

I put all of my hopes, dreams and expectations on him. It didn’t seem that way to me at the time, but looking back I can see it. No wonder things imploded. (And yes, I am sure he entered into our marriage with his own misguided expectations of me.)

We were both so busy blaming. While I thought he should do “X”, he was assuming I would do “Y”.  I was mistakenly and wrongly “sacrificing” self care for the sake of the relationship (so I thought). The result of my self imposed sacrifices?  I became resentful and small and fearful. While he became resolute and justified and defensive.

Yep, it was quite a dance the two of us had going. Neither of us knew how to change the tempo or stop the music long enough to figure things out. So, 18 years into a lifetime, I divorced him.

When we are so busy playing a role, whether we chose it or we believe it was placed on us, we forget important things, like our dreams, things that make us happy. And when we turn our entire focus (and resulting happiness) outward the s*&t really hits the fan.

That is how I got here. And yes, things have worked out well. But the journey was hell. If I could spare you, or any woman even a few hours of it, it is a successful day for me. No, more than that, it is a grand slam home run.

To that end, I created a free “Write Your Life” Challenge that will be done on in our FB group beginning June 4. You don’t have to be a writer. This isn't about becoming the next F. Scott Fitzgerald or Elizabeth Gilbert. It's about putting pen to paper and using these simple, powerful prompts to write some clarity back into your life."

It is designed simply to help you employ the miracle working magic of writing, so that you can create the life you want to live:

  • Establish essential rituals to carve out time for you, (even if Rome is burning).

  • Bring back some of the things that light you up, or make you smile

AND

  • Show you how to keep those things in your life.

It is designed for you, the intelligent, heart driven, hardworking superwoman that you are, to be able to take a deep breath and just forget about him for a while.

This is how it works:

30 minutes a day for 5 days. You receive daily writing prompts and take photos of your accomplishments. You post them in the group, get lots of accolades and pats on the back, ooohhhss and aaahhhhsss about your great skills and unique charms and maybe develop new BFF’s.

It is fun, easy and comes with terrific prizes from Paris.

“Write Your Life” - it is exactly like it sounds.

So come, join us, write the life you want to live!

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Are You Suffering From Marital Fatigue?

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Five sure signs you are suffering from Marital Fatigue

  1. The idea of a date night sounds like more work than fun
  2. Sex is a foreign concept (and you are okay with that)
  3. Your kids are the only thing keeping you from running away from home and creating a secret life living at the YWCA
  4. You mentioned a counselor but guess what? He says he isn’t unhappy, so he doesn’t need to go.
  5. Every time your boss or a male co-worker runs home to do some trivial little thing for his wife you resent it.

I bet when you said “I Do” you never expected you would one day want to “un” tie the knot with the man you married. No one walks down the aisle with those thoughts.

But 10-20 years, 1+ kids later and the notion of becoming “unknotted” sounds like sweet release. That is why women are twice as likely to initiate divorce. We feel the edges in marriage more deeply than men do.

The biggest problem for women in marriage is that we tend to take on everything. The kids, the dog, the house, and half the costs of living. We embrace that very old marketing propaganda that the only way to be a good wife is if we “bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan and never, ever let him forget he’s a man”. What a load of horse hockey that is.

When we start to look around and realize we spend more time trying to “be something” than we do “being someone”, throwing in the towel seems like the best, easiest and most delightful solution.

After all, we have tried the things that don’t work, “talking to him”, trying to tease him into guilt (or just plain outright guilt). We plead, coerce, threaten, write letters and attempt outside help. Typically what we get is a big fat nothing.

But what might happen if we just forgot about him altogether? What if we became so focused
on us, we just flat out didn’t have time to give two hoots what he did?

I know, you are probably saying something like, “well yeah, in a fantasy world that is exactly what I would do. But the kids should be cared for. The bills must be paid. I can’t just run off to a desert island and hope when I return he will be fixed.

Maybe.

But here is a question to ponder. How much energy do you expend every day in a negative place thinking about what he said, didn’t say, do or didn’t do? If it is more than 10 minutes, it might be time for a change.

Changing your focus to you, what you need, want, desire, like, can’t live without, etc. has profound impact on, guess who. Yep, that would be you.

So, what if I showed you a way that didn’t require surgery, divorce, a mental hospital or the YWCA? Would you be interested?

If so, join our “Write Your Life” challenge. You don’t have to be a writer. There is no critique. There are no judges. Period.

It is 30 minutes a day for five days of pure self __(fill in the blank here)___reflection, expression, appreciation, and a whole lotta fun.

It starts June 4 and runs through June 8. You will receive a prompt every day, take a photo of your submission, post it in the FB group and Voilà! Yep, it’s that easy.

During the five days you will learn how to set up a ritual for yourself that everyone else has to work their schedule around (Which isn’t the way things usually run, right?)

You will dive back into some of the things that bring you joy.

You will begin to rediscover the parts of you that you may have given up for job, family or country (oops, that was supposed to say society…LOL) 

You will be able to pop off any questions that come up in the FB group and I will be there as quick as a hummingbird (ok, maybe not fast, but as quickly as possible) to answer them for you.

You will be part of a community of super cool, like minded women like yourself who are in the same place in life you are. We will hang out, share some laughs and support each other whole heartedly. You might even discover a new bestie in the group.

Oh, and there are prizes, all the way from Paris, fun things from a Paris perfumery that has been around since 1926, chocolates, wine, all those things a girl needs to be reminded, “hell yeah, I’m worth it.”

I hope to see you there! Here’s a link to register.
À bietôt.

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Chase Your Dreams

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I have written quite a bit lately on the, well, let’s say more somber side of things, because my heart goes out to those women who are where I was 12 years ago, in the throes of “what the hell do I do now?” I have a child, I’ve been married 14 years, but this isn’t working out at all.

I write about it because my wildest hope is to inspire you to chase your dreams and not give up, no matter how hard it may seem. Being on the other side gives me some perspective, yes. It may even look at little too good to be true. Many people look at my life and think I just fell into a vat of good luck.

I wish that were the case and I could go around sprinkling pixie dust everywhere so you too would have the same “good luck”. The truth is a little less fairytale.

So today, just for giggles, I thought we might just ditch the serious and have some fun.

Want to?

If so, keep reading. This is a little piece I jotted off quickly when I returned to the states this summer.

I am home for a bit, checking on my house, visiting with family and friends. I found this show on TV I really like, “Jo”, a French detective series. I get to travel through Paris with Jo, who incidentally is a French detective who only speaks English. As a matter of fact, everyone in the police station speaks English, as do all the “bad guys”, the ME and anyone else associated with the show. I get to traipse through Paris understanding every single word that is spoken.
Gotta love television, we can dream without ever leaving the sofa, right? I mean really, no one in a Paris police station speaks French, how amazing is that? But I digress. I miss Paris. I can’t wait to return. But I also am experiencing a reconnection with my roots. (English is our native language here.) Things here are so familiar I don’t have to think about them.
After living abroad (every time I say that I hear myself and think “Like wow, I really did live abroad.”) I get to see the familiar with new eyes. What a gift. 
Of course at times, being “home” can be like coming down in a hot air balloon, where you really hope the guy knows how to land and you don’t end up on the rocks. Because things are never quite the way you left them, or expect them to be. But isn’t that the mystery of life?

Like this quote I just read on someone’s Pinterest Board:
“One Life, Just One.  Why aren’t we running like we are on fire towards our wildest dreams?”

Well? Why aren’t we?

Here are a few possibilities, let me know your thoughts:

  • My dreams changed (wild now means leaving the house without a diaper bag).
  • There aren’t enough hours in the day (ok, I know it seems like super successful Sue has somehow found a time machine and only sleeps every other day). But perhaps we just need to look at our calendar a little differently. I can show you a few tricks here. 
  • I had my heart broken (this one doesn’t lend itself to humor, but then to have our heart broken, it means we had the courage to give it to someone. And that is never a bad thing. Ok, well, unless he or she happens to be a serial killer, that might be bad. But short of that, even anti-social narcissists probably gave us a few happy memories, if we are honest.)

So, the question BECOMES, what is REALLY keeping you from chasing your dreams? Like if you absolutely, positively could not fail?

Try these on for size:

  1. Take no more than 5 minutes to write down 7 of the craziest, most exciting things you can think of. Don’t edit, don’t try to figure out the how, just go with whatever creates a tingling sensation in your body.
  2. Assign each one a number 1-7 according to how important/fun/exciting it would be.
  3. Now, put them in the correct order by priority. Leave enough space between each one for notes.
  4. Underneath each one write three action steps that could take you closer to that goal. Baby steps here. For example, want to be a rock singer? Do you have a guitar? Drums? Could you take lessons somewhere? Self-study on YouTube?
  5. Spend 5 minutes a day looking at your list and your action steps. Pick one or more action steps to work on that day/week/month.

How long it takes is irrelevant you will discover, once you are moving towards it. It is the very act of movement that brings excitement and hope back.

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Crying On The Bathroom Floor

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When I was 45 years old I was married to a man I loved deeply, and he loved me. You may notice however that there was no “happily” in that sentence. The feelings we both had of not “feeling” loved kept us at odds, arguing or avoiding each other.  Which tends to keep the “happily” out of a marriage.

Don’t misunderstand, it wasn’t wall to wall misery, which just made it worse.

I actually believed at the time that if I could just hang in there until I was 65, we would be somewhere on a porch holding hands and laughing about the past (our current present).

Nothing like wishing 20 years of your life away, right, something a little off about that line of thinking. But, it was in keeping with all the other thoughts I had about him, our marriage, my expectations.

It was also what made me believe there was no other solution than divorce. I had been the counselor route (8 to be exact, over a five-year period). The self-help books piled up all over the house. I wrote him an encyclopedia’s worth of letters. I talked to friends. I learned yoga and became an instructor, meditation, prayer. I painted and even went back to college to get a second degree in art.

He traveled more, putting solitude and distance between us thinking that when he returned home I would be “over it”, whatever the hell “it” was at the moment.

Everything became about our marriage until it was choking both of us.

So, I divorced him.

Problem solved, right?

Uh, that would be a not so much.

If your marriage feels like a nightmare in real time, I have some rather unorthodox tools that might help you see your way a little more clearly.

This is not to say divorce isn’t the answer; nor is it to say it is. This is just a system to support you in whatever decision you make. It is not about him, or the marriage, or the kids, or the job. It is for and about you.

If you would like to know more, join my email list for weekly tips and group support → https://www.kimberlybenjamincoaching.com/subscribe-undone.

And, if you would like, email me for a free recorded support message for those late nights when you absolutely can’t call anyone, stop crying, or want to break all your dishes. (Psst – cause I’ve been there). You can reach me at kim@kimberlybenjamincoaching.com.

Just send me an email and in the subject line put “hug”. Tell me a bit about yourself, (ONLY -if you want to. It isn’t necessary and is completely confidential. I hail from a family of attorneys. You will never appear in a blog post. I promise.) I will get it recorded and back to you as quickly as possible as an attachment, via email.

 

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Planner, Procrastinator, or Perfectionist?

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I just spent a couple of hours writing blog posts. Which I love doing. I like the possibility of sharing something that might make someone smile, or feel less alone, or hopefully inspire them to reconnect with their dreams, or maybe just help them be less hypercritical with themselves and find more in life.

But I got stumped on this one. I couldn’t seem to knit the threads together in the way I intended. And that is when it hit me. When we try to fit everything into one category or another, wear one coat, tell just one story, be one thing we often freeze. Humans are multi dimensional, complicated creatures, especially women. As women, everything we do effects everything we are.

In one of the many marriage seminars I drug my ex-husband to, Gary Smalley (marriage counselor/author extraordinaire), used these cool props to show us how complicated a woman’s brain is, especially to a man.

He had two mannequin heads with the backs cut off. Inside the male mannequin, he had placed empty boxes turned on their sides in a grid like fashion to demonstrate how easily and naturally men compartmentalize all the events in their life.

In the female version, there was a mangle of different colored wires jutting in, around and through each other in a large shapeless conglomeration.

Think spaghetti noodles – when you first take dried pasta out of the box, the long cylindrical noodles are perfectly uniform, straight, specific, defined. That’s a man’s brain.

But, what happens after you boil the noodles? Yep, a swirling mass of interconnectedness. It is difficult to discover where one ends and another takes off, right? That’s us. No wonder those stick straight pre-cooked noodles have a hard time understanding the curvy, free form energy in the bowl, much less relating to it.

We experience everything, everywhere, like often all at once. Even (or maybe especially) orgasm, according to a medical documentary I watched once, fires electrical impulses in every area of our brain. Men don’t experience anything, including orgasm the same way we do. (no snide comments – smile.)

We remember the smallest detail of an emotional event, like what we were wearing during our last argument, because we experience it that way. Emotional incidents especially impact us in every possible way. Men on the other hand probably put the whole event in a little box, and stuck it on a shelf, in the closet, of the basement.

See how that sorta sets up conflict at every turn?

I spent so many years thinking my husband was insensitive and cold (and without diving into all the details, he could be at times). Meanwhile he was calling me overly sensitive (which, I must confess I can be at times).

But, then, I am many, many things all at once. I am an artist, a writer, a mother, a life coach, a sister, daughter, aunt, dancer (no, not professionally – LOL), former yoga instructor, massage therapist, commercial interior designer, bank teller, store manager, poet, painter, builder, comedian, stoic, intellectual, cheerleader, impatient driver (Maybe extreme should go in front of impatient here!), cook, traveler, procrastinator, perfectionist, warrior, child, whiner, scattered, stubborn, often demanding, seemingly unforgiving, sentimentalist, romantic, hat wearer who prefers dresses over shorts in hot southern summers.

But, it took me way too many years, close to 50 to be exact, to accept that I am all these things and much more.

For so long I only wanted to see the “good” things about myself because somehow if I could hide the bad parts I would be fully understood, valued and loved. I felt I needed to prove my worth, to earn love. I think that comes instinctively for a lot of women.

So, we bury our dreams, the very things that make us who we are in favor of becoming the perfect something or another.

We tell ourselves that we don’t have the– fill in the blank here -time, energy, money, desire– because we have jobs and families. And if only our husbands would –again, fill in the blanks – be kinder, make more money, help with the kids/house, not do X,Y,Z.

Bottom line (as my ex would say) - if they would just love us and take care of us like they promised to do when they asked us to marry them…

Isn’t that really what we are so upset, hurt, angry, frustrated about? Loss of the dream?

Here’s a thought.

I wonder what would happen if we got back in touch with the dreams we had before we decided they (men) could supply them for us?

I just wonder what it would be like if we spent a little more time getting in touch with “us” and a little less thinking about them?

What do you think?

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