The Women That Strength Built

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Grace. It Is Amazing. May 17, 2010

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

–       Leo Buscaglia

            Grace.  Everyone knows what it is when they experience it.  Webster’s defines it as “unmerited assistance coming from God.”  However, they also define its synonym, mercy, as “lenient or compassionate treatment (bestowed by anyone).”  As such, grace or mercy can be shown by anyone to any other living creature on earth.  That means you can bestow grace or mercy on others.  Even more interesting is that while you probably know forgiveness is important, forgiveness is not necessary for grace.  Let me give you an example.

            A few years ago I was going through a divorce.  Let’s just say I did not feel forgiveness, mercy or grace for my ex.  In fact, I felt anything but.  After years of emotional abuse and then losing absolutely everything through the divorce, I could not even comprehend thinking of him in a positive way.  I don’t explain this to point blame, as I know I was somewhat at fault for our failed marriage as well.  But I offer this background as a way to give you some idea of my mindset when the following occurred.

            At the time of this story, I was working in a bookstore after losing a business I’d spent years building.  I was just trying to survive day-to-day.  The only thing that made me happier was actually being able to help the customers in the store.  One day a woman asked me if we had any books on how to survive abusive relationships.  I showed her what we had and helped her check out after she’d made her choice.  I had met many women recently who had been in abusive marriages so I also shared with her some community resources I’d heard of that might be of assistance as well.  One thing that struck me was that she exuded peace and contentment.  I couldn’t understand how that could be the case if she was in an abusive situation herself.  I was curious as to how she could exude such positive feelings as compared to my negative ones.  As we spoke, she said she was actually looking for the book to help someone she knew.

            It turns out that she had been married to an abusive man just a couple of years before.  They were divorced, and he was now remarried.  His new wife was somewhat functionally disabled.  The customer I was helping explained that she was buying the book for the new wife.  The customer said she had tried to befriend the new wife because she felt she needed help.  Apparently the new wife had no family and no one to turn to for help.  My customer said she knew how abusive her ex could be and was still struggling to resolve her feelings about him.  But she wanted to do everything she could for this other woman.  She said simply, “She’s going to need help from someone one of these days soon.  I want to do whatever I can to be there for her.”

            After she left, I was dumfounded.  Here I was wallowing in my grief while she had stepped outside herself to provide mercy to someone else.  I felt very strongly that I had been touched by the wings of Grace as it passed by.  Not only did this woman reach out to make someone else’s life better, but she inadvertently changed the lives of those who witnessed this act as well.  There are scientific studies that show that an act of compassion not only changes the lives of the parties involved, but also the lives of anyone witnessing the exchange.  I believe that.  That event has stayed in my heart to this day.  And every time I’m tempted to lash out at someone who has hurt me, I remember the lady I met that day.  If another human being is capable of grace, then we all are.  So while I may not be able to forgive everyone that’s hurt me, I can find a way to show compassion to others who have been injured by life’s blows.

            It may not be something that’s occurred to you before, but you can start looking for ways to spread grace and mercy to those you encounter.  While it may take a little effort on your part, especially if you’re feeling hurt, think what a significant impact it can have on others’ lives.  While I’ve never had the opportunity to be as generous as the lady I met at the bookstore, I have had the chance to ease peoples’ lives a little as they passed my way.  And if someone’s life is a little easier because of me, then maybe I did what I was put on this earth to do.  I certainly hope so.  Nameste

– Kandice

 

Can Marriage Lead to Poverty? March 19, 2010

45% of all women who have gone through divorce are now living at the poverty level in this country.

– Statistic provided by H&R Block 

I learned this amazing fact when I went through my divorce.  And it was easy to believe.  All I had to do was look at what my life had become.  I went from being a successful business owner with a home, a husband, two cars, and several pets to having absolutely nothing.  Suddenly, I was living in an apartment, driving a 10-year-old car and making $6.25 an hour working retail.  Do I need to mention that $6.25 an hour didn’t even cover my bills?  In time, I found a somewhat better retail job.  But things are still tight.  I still struggle to make ends meet.  And I never go on the trips, have the possessions, or do the things other people seem to do.  And it’s hard struggling day after day.

 At least I’m not trying to support any children.  Many of the women who fall into the above statistic are single mothers whose husbands don’t pay child support.  They are in a far worse situation than I am, and their lives are much more difficult.  I believe it’s this fact that scares many women into staying in unhappy marriages.  Without their husband’s paycheck and insurance, how would they survive?  If he skipped out on child support, how would they and their children live?  These are very valid questions.

 It is easy to convince yourself to stay in an unhappy marriage.  It is much harder to find the courage to leave, especially if doing so would put you at a disadvantage.  But too many women think the decision is up to them.  What do you do when he comes home one night and says he wants a divorce?  What then?

Don’t wait until you find yourself faced with this situation.  There are ways to prepare yourself.  If you never need them, that’s fine.  But it’s better to be prepared.  Find the time and money to go back to school.  Work part-time, even volunteer, so you will have some skills for a resume.  Start your own savings account.  Have at least one credit card in your own name.  Have contingency plans.  Where will you go?  Who will help you?  What resources can you take with you?

 Listed on the blogroll are some sites that provide assistance to women in need.  They are there if you need them.  All you have to do is reach out.  And even if you are in a happy marriage, you may still need contingency plans.  Don’t be like my best friend whose husband had a heart attack in his 40s.  Even with life insurance, etc., she had three children to raise and had never worked a day in her life.  Planning ahead makes you strong.  It keeps you safe.  It gives you options.  And options give you freedom.  Believe me; you would rather have the freedom to choose your own life than to let someone else choose it for you.

 

Letting Go Makes You Stronger January 27, 2010

Filed under: Tools for Strength — thewomenthatstrengthbuilt @ 4:00 am
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 “We need to find the courage to say no to the things and people that are not serving us if we want to rediscover ourselves and live our lives with authenticity.” 

 –       Barbara De Angelis

             If you look around your house or apartment, will you find remnants left from past relationships?  Do you have jewelry, books, CDs, furniture that came from your past partner?  Are you still holding on to these because they bring you fond memories?  Do you think you may still get back together and will want the items later?  Do you like to look at them and remember when times were better?  Is this really doing you any good at all?

            When I was younger, the first thing I did after a breakup was to purge anything from my life that reminded me of my ex-boyfriend.  Stuffed animals, pictures, matchbook covers from restaurants, records – everything went immediately.  But somewhere along the way, I started collecting stuff – a few pieces of jewelry here, a picture there, a box of trinkets to look at when I wanted to remember.  This all seemed very innocent until I went through a divorce a few years back.

            While I wasn’t left with much after the divorce, I did keep our wedding album, my wedding rings, and some other small items.  In the time between our separation and divorce, I did manage to give away a few of those items and to discard most of the pictures.  But I kept my wedding rings.  If I was truthful with myself, I thought I should keep them in case we got back together.  Really though, I was keeping them because I couldn’t let go of a dream.

            Dreams die hard.  But the reality is that our marriage died long before our separation.  And the items I kept only served to remind me of the difficult times we shared – not the happy ones.  What about you?  Do the items you have from past relationships really make you happy?  Or do they make you melancholy?  And if they make you melancholy, wouldn’t it be better to get rid of them?  How strong can you be if something is making you sad every time you look at it?  Wouldn’t it be better to turn it into something positive – to let it go and leave the space open for something new?

            I did that today.  I took my rings to the jeweler and sold them.  I only got a fraction of what was paid for them originally, but I needed the money and was satisfied with the amount.  And driving home, I realized I was really happy.  I had let go of something that brought me mostly sad memories.   I no longer had any physical connection left to my past relationship.  And I had opened up some space in my life that could be filled with something new and positive.  That was worth much more than what the jeweler paid me.

            What about you?  Those things that slowly squeeze your heart when you look at them – could you let them go?  Sell them on e-bay?  Donate them to charity?  Can you get rid of what’s not serving you today?  I did.  And I feel stronger, freer and more positive about my life.  I hope by taking a chance and releasing some of your unhappy past, you can do that for yourself.  After all, you deserve to feel strong.  And you definitely deserve to be happy!

 – Kandice