Broken

100+ boxes later and I’m unpacked.

My anchor is dropped. Over six years of being homeless, traveling the world, I’ve stopped. I’m ambivalent about being happy. I’m going to miss traveling. I’m going to miss seeing something new on a regular basis. I’m going to miss the freedom.

I’m NOT going to miss the loneliness.

I’m not going to miss watching the slow train wreck that is happening to the world right now.

 I sincerely hope that I eventually stumble into a life I love in my new home.

MY new home. I do love so many things about it. First and foremost, it’s all mine. If I want to paint a wall, I paint the wall; no consultations, no bargaining.

But I have to paint the wall.

Anyhoo… back to the 100 boxes of stuff. When I set off on the journey back in 2009, we sold everything and put precious and practical items in boxes in storage.

I actually forgot about a lot of that stuff. Opening most boxes was like Christmas morning. Of course, many precious items from grandparents, drawings and gifts from the children, touchstone, and photos – all brought tears to my eyes.

 Lifetimes of memories.

But a lot of it was stuff collected over the years. Useful, but still stuff.

I was lucky that my neighbour was an Army vet and was a whiz at packing. She insisted in helping me pack up my home and boy, was I lucky to have her.

Out of all the china, crystal, glass, et cetera, none of that was broken. Only two things were broken, and you won’t believe what they were.

As I have indicated before, when I started on my journey, I was married. I ended my journey single.

I was always proud of my family, and my family was the most important thing in my life, without exception. We had many decorative items scattered about the home that indicated the four of us. (Beyond photos.)

One of the items I had was a set of Sid Dickens ceramic blocks of King, Queen, Prince, and Princess crowns to represent us four. They were proudly placed in the living bookshelf.

They look like this:

The ONLY two items damaged through four moves was the King and Queen block. I kid you not.

It was so indicative of my experience, I sobbed for a day. The King and Queen of my family were broken and damaged. Cracked and scarred forever more. Never to be the same. The King and Queen had fallen.

I’ve passed the Prince and Princess blocks to my children, but knowing what they represented and how our family, like the blocks, is now scattered, I’m not too sure they were happy to have them.

He has his broken King block.

I glued my Queen block back together and hung it in my bedroom. I’m not broken, but you can see the cracks.

All the places we don’t want to be

Aristotle

Goals are garbage.

Goals can create stress and heartache.

Goals can make you feel worthless.

If you have a goal to lose 50 pounds and only lose 45, will you consider yourself a disappointment?

If you have a goal to walk 10,000 steps a day and only reach 8,500, have you bombed?

If you have a goal to have a career, house, wife, and a family by age 30 and you managed to have a house, spouse, and family but your career is slow getting off the ground, is it futile to carry on when you are 31?

Hitting the goal post doesn’t count in any game.

Goals are dreams with a deadline. Nope, goals are nightmares that handcuff us to perceived happiness. Once I reach X goal, then I’ll be happy. Or rich. Or skinny. Or accomplished.

➠ Then how are we to accomplish anything? Aren’t goals, directions? Roadmaps?

What if you decided half way towards your goal, that it’s the wrong goal? Are all your efforts then a waste of time? In my books, that was the best time spent as sometimes figuring out what we don’t want is more important than wondering what we do want, but some would consider that effort a failure to reach your goal.

So what do we use instead of goals, to realize our ambitions and dreams, and to move forward?

 Habits. Habits trump goals each and every time.

If your goal was to lose 50 pounds, why not change that to wanting to become healthy? If you change your habits, if you become healthy, the weight will automatically drop off, with seemingly no effort whatsoever. And you will still be the winner even if you drop 35, 42, 47 or 49.5 pounds.

The very definition of habit is something we do unconsciously.

To lose 50 pounds, and keep it off, you have to change the habits that got you to where you are 50 pounds overweight. Normally that’s because, over time, you consumed more food than your body needed.

But too many drastic changes of habits are also doomed to failure. That’s why extreme diets, cold turkey quitting smoking or starting an exercise plan of going to the gym every day for an hour never work. Your subconscious mind is stronger than your willpower and you will revert back to your destructive habits. And that’s why it’s so important to concentrate on changing your subconscious mind habits.

 The secret to obtaining each and everything you have ever wanted is small, consistent, incremental changes in your habits, not setting goals.

Want to lose weight and keep it off? Today, start with eating less. Eat what you want, when you want, but less of it, even if it means every time you eat, eat just one less bite.

Leave one bite of the donut. Leave one chip in the bag. Leave that one bite on your plate. Leave that last gulp in the cup. Order the small fries instead of large. Maybe don’t go for seconds. (Note: Throw out the part you don’t eat. Don’t keep it to tempt you later.)

Once that becomes easy or habit, leave two bites, two chips, two gulps.

Once that becomes an easy habit, leave three bites, or ¼ of the serving.

Continue the process – a little bit at a time – until it becomes a natural habit to eat ½ (or less) of everything you are eating now. Still have pizza, but now one slice is just as satisfying as two. Or two as four, if that’s your case.

Do you not think your body would respond and create a weight-loss situation?

And more importantly, without a goal, there is no end to this habit improvement. You can continue this habit until you are healthy, happy, and content that this is where you want to live for now. You simply stop improving the habit, with no worries of reverting back to your previous unwanted habit.

Whether that takes a week, or two, or a month or six is up to you; don’t believe the hype of ‘it takes 21, 30, 60, 90 days to change a habit.’ The only thing you have to do is improve your new habit a little bit every day, consistently.

Maybe once you’ve solidified the quantity habit, then you move on start to make better food choices if you haven’t naturally done so already. Maybe as you lose weight, you feel like walking or moving your body a little bit more.

➠ Does this feel like success to you? Does this feel doable? Doesn’t this feel better? Doesn’t this feel easier? 

The choice is yours, but you must make the changes small, consistent, and incremental. And build on each habit change.

I promise you, if all you do is this one change of habit, of quantity, you will eventually make a difference in the shape of your body.

How else could you implement this in your life?

Quitting smoking? How about cutting out one cigarette in a day, the easiest one to cut out, the one you wouldn’t miss that much. Once it feels natural that you don’t miss it, cut out another one. Live with that until it feels natural, and repeat the process until you are down to a few cigarettes a day. Quitting completely from this point will be much easier, don’t you think? Or you may decide that smoking a couple of well-timed cigarettes a day is fine.

Want to stop watching so much TV? Spending a lot of time on Facebook? Use your timer to slowly, incrementally, shave off minutes.

Get your finances in order? What’s one item you can cut out this month? Netflix? Now next month? Bring one lunch a week to work? And the month after that? Review your cable package? In a year, you will have shaved off twelve items; think of the money you will be saving! But if you did that all at once, a sense of lack would set in your subconscious mind and it would be very painful.

I know it’s easy to forget because it seems so natural now, but every unconscious habit you have now, evolved over time. You weren’t born brushing your teeth. You weren’t born overeating. You weren’t born smoking.

You weren’t born turning on the TV immediately after work. You weren’t born drinking too much alcohol, doing recreational drugs, or biting your nails. You weren’t born overspending.

All habits are a process of training the unconscious mind, no exceptions. Some habits were implemented quickly, such as a drug addiction and smoking, but most evolved over time. You didn’t start eating three donuts; it started after one, for whatever reason, wasn’t enough so you reached for the second, which then eventually became a three-donut habit at coffee break.

Habits will get you to anywhere you want to be and keep you there.

And all the places we don’t want to be.

Everything You Did Not Say

You never asked.

In your not asking, I have my answer.

When it’s all about you with never a queery about me, I have my answer.

This isn’t assumption; it’s an observation.

I waited for you to ask and you didn’t. Not once.

You spoke a thousand words to give me the answer I already knew.

➵ It’s probably the most honesty I have ever taken away from one of our conversations. 

Take good care.

You Can’t Get There From Here

You can’t cry your way to happiness.

You can’t eat your way to weight loss.

You can’t sleep yourself into energy.

You can’t spend your way to wealth.

You can’t hold a grudge and have forgiveness.

You can’t find a partner by hiding inside.

You can’t get there from here.

If you want a change in your life, you have to change something.

Start small. Starting with small steps eventually creates a path to get you to where you want to be; repeated small steps along the same route construct a clearing for us to continue towards our destination.

I started on my trail to happiness by ‘unlovinging’ my previous partner 1% a day. That’s all I did; every night before I went to sleep, I told myself when I woke up, I would love him 1% less. (I wasn’t sure how it worked or what that really meant, but that wasn’t the point.)

It wasn’t long before I stopped crying everyday and I started to notice I wasn’t missing him as much anymore. And just like that, one day I didn’t love him anymore. It wasn’t a dramatic flash when I first realized I didn’t love him anymore; it was more like a ‘did I leave the iron on?’ moment.

If someone would have said, “Just stop loving him”, that wouldn’t have worked; I couldn’t get there from where I was living. You can’t just stop loving someone you love.

Like attracts like.  Small steps will attract additional small steps, permitting you to take the bigger steps towards where you want to be.

If you have an unhappy aspect in your life, start with small changes, even as small as 1% and watch them add up to 100%, without much additional effort on your part. But the caveat is you must act, you must have the action, no one can do it for you.

Because you can get to there from here, eventually.

Divorce hardens you

Divorce hardens you.

I don’t think divorce changes the core of your personality, the process of divorce only emphasizes personality traits that are already there.

If you value money above all else, your actions of fighting for the last penny or crock pot will speak louder than your words.

If you are a control freak, this will show up in co-parenting situations.

If you are a nutbar level 7, this will show up in stalking and other crazy behaviours.

And so on. Those behaviours are not new to you, you didn’t change, you now have the opportunity to express them without excuses. Release the hounds, if you will.

But no matter how you choose to deal with your divorce, divorce hardens you.

According to many psychological tests, on a scale of 1-100, 100 being the most stress you can ever experience, divorce or death of spouse is a 100 stressor.

I disagree. Divorce is more stressful than death.

As tragic as a death is, the widow(er) doesn’t have to ‘fight’ for half their life accumulations. They get it all, without question.

They get the house. Moving is a choice, not a necessity.

They get all the money, no need to wonder how to survive in retirement on half of what you saved or half of your pension.

They never have to wonder if this is the month the support payment is late or doesn’t show up at all.

They also never have to see their former spouse kiss another partner. Or hear they are remarrying, noting the new wife has a bigger diamond than you were ever given.

They don’t have to share the children at Christmas, Easter, Birthdays, or vacation.

They don’t have to fend off rumours, lies and gossip.

They never have to defend their actions and choices.

They don’t bring a shitload of baggage (trust issues, lying issues, money issues, ex issues) to the next relationship.

They don’t have to compartmentalized their friends and family into 1) Here for me, 2) Wasn’t here for me, 3) Never have to deal with again and 4) GFY.

They get meals brought to them and invited to people’s homes for Sunday dinner, out of sympathy.

They don’t have to hear of your family inviting the ex for Sunday dinner because ‘we’d like to stay friends’ as you quietly note you haven’t been invited over.

They don’t have to deal with dividing lines in any way, shape or form.

They cry just the same.

They miss them just the same.

They find it difficult to move on, just the same.

If you have children, the ripple effects of divorce last your whole lifetime, until one of you dies. After raising the children, you will be sharing the weddings and the grandchildren. It never goes away. Divorce moves sideways in your life, laterally along, forever.

Losing a spouse to death, using time as the great healer, one day the sun will shine a little brighter, the songs will start to get happier and food tastes better once again. Yes, you miss them with all your being but the death is the rock bottom, you can only move up from losing a spouse to death.

But they don’t get hardened. If anything, they eventually soften, learning how precious life is and to embrace love, life and happiness every day and in every which way because they know it can all be taken away by death.

They don’t get hardened. They don’t learn to hate their partner and wish them dead.

Divorce hardens you, in ways you never see coming. In ways you never imagined. In ways you would hope it wouldn’t. It colours everything you do. But it doesn’t change you.