When I decided to leave my husband over a year ago now, my original plan was to move up to my folks' place temporarily. They have a little studio on their property where I planned to live, to be close but not encroach on their life toooo much. I also thought I could keep some semblance of independence and not subsume myself into the daughter-only role.
It seemed like a good short-term plan. Afford me the chance to cool my heels, figure out what I was actually doing with my life, and give myself time and space to plan my next steps. My next adventure.
I hadn't factored a pandemic into the paradigm of this life transition.
Last Friday night, I found myself weeping alone in my parked car. I had just accomplished my biggest success of the day: to purchase the correct formulation of stool softener for my mother.
Mine is not a romantic adventure of reinvention. I am not a young divorcee. Nor is this my first divorce. Plus, because this is Hope's LAW (Life After Wellness), I already know how to eat, pray, and love.
Eat (Your Heart Out)
For starters, I grew up in an Italian family. My mother's a red-headed Italian and my grandmother was the oldest girl in a Southern Italian immigrant family with 14 kids (12 of them boys). So they knew how to cook. And I learned how to eat and eat well.
Add to that my youth spent in 4-H. Not the agricultural hog-raising horse-jumping 4-H that most people think of. My club and my involvement focused life skills and leadership. I learned early how to cook, bake, sew, quilt, embroider, knit, crochet, and then compete at a state level with all these skills. (On paper, I should make a great wife...)
I parlayed those life skills into my first work-study job as a cook's helper at my college residence. My roommate and I prepared supper Monday through Thursday for our mostly international housemates. Not only did I become skilled at cooking (and grocery shopping) for groups of 40, my roommate and I also had access to the kitchen anytime we wanted. Two young women and an industrial kitchen? Score!
All this adds up to lifelong skills of knowing how to cook, knowing what to eat, and knowing how to stay healthy. I am the poster child of that slogan from the 70s: I am what I eat.
Pray (Away the Cray)
I've been meditating my entire adulthood. I didn't travel across the world to start my path to enlightenment. My path started in a college classroom. Sitting at one of those metal chair-desks. No change of clothes. I didn't even take off my shoes. Or my glasses.
I had no idea that I was going to learn how to meditate when I walked into class.
(Wanna talk about how the Divine works? That's how. Accept the gift.)
My grad school years took me away from my meditation practice (though I was living with a couple of Buddhists, so perhaps not). But as a young psychotherapist, I explored many methods to both quiet my mind and explore nonordinary capacities of the mind.*
Amid my spicerack approach to spirituality, a few practices stand out:
Learning Kundalini yoga from a couple of Sikhs in Madison, Wisconsin, at age 28, and coming to grips with the power of the breath of fire
Studying Transcendental Meditation in DC as my 52st birthday present to myself— I explained to my instructor that I didn't feel particularly "mindful"; I simply felt "full"
Employing solfeggio frequencies with one of my daily 20-minute meditation sessions (these are strange sounds and tap something that my mind cannot explain away)
After decades of meditation, I can't say that I'm great at it. (Pro tip: if anyone ever admits to being great at meditation, walk away.) That's the point though: journey vs destination.
Love (With Your Whole Heart)
You might think a professional divorcee like myself might have some battle scars from the love field. On the contrary, I'm a fangirl of the love.
My perspective centers around one idea:
The best relationships allow us to become who we truly are.
This applies to every relationship. Marriages. Friends. Family. Colleagues. Even randos at truckstops and baristas you'll never see again.
It's all about growth. Sometimes we grow with each other. Sometimes we grow away from each other. We recognize these shifts in direction because we are growing. Like a plant seeking the sun.
Sure, it gets bumpy. We all have feelings. We all have hearts. We all want to feel comfortable in our own skin. We all want to surround ourselves with others that help us get there—from our life partners to that anonymous barista.
Maybe I marry well. Maybe I know how to pose a question to get the answer I seek. Maybe I'm working with limited resources, so I have to make due with my current circumstances.
No fanfare. No extravagance. Stool softener.
Maybe it's not about what is the opposite of eat, pray, love. Because we're in Hope's LAW, maybe I'm asking "what's next?"
What's Post Eat Pray Love?
#wellness #selfcare #lifeafterwellness #hopester
* Not drug use btw—but too esoteric for this article.