Divorce is a time of crisis: “a dangerous opportunity”. It is an opportunity to find out that you’re stronger than you think you are. Though individual circumstances vary greatly from one divorce situation to another, you have a choice in how you respond to divorce. As with all difficult and painful life transitions, this familiar adage applies to divorce “You can become bitter or you can become better.”
Finding Strength Through A Divorce:
Going through a divorce requires redefinition of yourself, your family, your relationships, your life. It’s a time for honest self-reflection: a time to look inside of yourself and shift your views to accommodate the many life changes you’re going through.
Who am I without the marriage and the role of “wife”?
What were my contributions to the demise of the marriage?
What can I learn from this experience that will make me a stronger person?
Divorce is a time to take inventory of what matters most to you. If you’re children have become less of a priority during the stress of the divorce process, recommit to investing more in your relationship with them. If you’ve given up a hobby or interest during your marriage, pick it up again. If spirituality is important to you, recommit to investing in your connection with God.
What aspects of life are most important to me?
What areas of life do I want to focus on now?
Am I investing my time and energy into who and what I value most?
The end of a relationship that one or both of you didn’t want will free up energy to invest in other parts of your life. Though it’s scary to explore the uncharted territory of life as a single person, try actively taking risks to get out or your comfort zone. A former therapy client decided to go back to school and get her MBA after she divorced, a dream that she’d put on hold when she married.
Who do I want to become?
What am I most passionate about?
What are some activities that will get me out of my comfort zone and expose me to new people and experiences?
How do you find strength through difficult times? Feel free to post your comment below.
When you hear the word “strength” you likely think of traits or characteristics that are easily visible to others. But you also have “quiet” strengths that are demonstrated in your relationships interactions, and in who you are. These quiet strengths might be empathy, being a good listener, making others feel important, spirituality, and more.I’m continually inspired by the inner strengths of many women that I meet with in my counseling practice, and in workshops, who are dealing with difficult life situations: the loss of a child, marital distress, debilitating depression, chronic illness, and more. They face difficult life situations with courage and strive to move beyond their current situation.One of my own quiet strengths is the ability to reflect on my inner life and on my relationships and express my experience through songs. I gain much inspiration for themes and lyrics from my important relationships and life experiences.Three women in particular have inspired me with their quiet strengths of self- acceptance, emotional depth, and consistent support.
I have known Sara White for over 15 years and have been inspired by her strength of self-acceptance. Now well into her 90’s, Sara continues to enjoy her family and friends and exudes an inner beauty that is evident to all who know her. Through difficult life experiences Sara has grown in beauty and grace. The years have been a friend to her.
(lyric excerpt, written by Julie de Azevedo)
These lines are signs of many lessons learned
Carved out through time
Smiles that warm and tears that burn
And unexpected turns
Time has been my friend it seems
So let Him write on meYou can call me flawed
You can call it character
But I choose to call these changes
God’s signatureMaybe it’s part of His design
That our landscape shifts with time
And youth is just a blur
Maybe it’s part of His design
And letting go of pride
It’s proof that we’re aliveâ€¦
Melodie Williams, a long-time friend and mentor has inspired me with her unique emotional depth and thoughtfulness about life. Always an optimist, Melodie has encouraged me to seek continual growth in my emotional and spiritual life while maintaining a hopeful outlook. As a professional painter, her depth is expressed beautifully in her artwork. To learn more about Melodie’s art visit www.melodiewilliamsart.com.
(lyric excerpt, written by Julie de Azevedo)
Dive deep into this ocean
Brave uncharted sea
You’ll never own me
If you want to hold me
Dive deep into this ocean
Cradle any jewel
Swim with the lover
Dance with the mother
Kiss the wife
And laugh with the girl
My mother, Linda de Azevedo , dedicated her life to raising nine children. It wasn’t until I became a mother that my appreciation for her deepened as I realized the impact of her constant support throughout my life. I wrote this song “Angels” as a tribute to her life. Still, she continues to be a source of support to me and my family generously offering praise, encouragement, and practical help whenever possible. Soon after this segment airs, she will be the first to call or send a text cheering me on.
(lyrics excerpt, written by Julie de Azevedo)
She was a girl just a young girl at nineteen
When she left behind her the life she had known
Got all dressed up in white
Oh to be a new bride
And set out to make a house a home
When she found herself she was drowning in laundry
Up all the night and driving all day
And every few years she would come up for air
In between lessons, carpool, and PTABut the angels they carried her
Through the fire and the rain
And the angels they carried her
From the end of her rope to the end of her day
And the angels, they sang to her
So she know someone was there
She had wings and prayers
Looking back it’s clear
She was touching heaven all those yearsâ€¦
My new CD “Masterpiece: The Best of Julie de Azevedo” is available at Deseret Book.
The light of springtime often inspires the cleaning out of clutter in your home and yard, and exposes the cobwebs and dust bunnies that have been collecting during the winter months. It’s also a good time to consider cleaning out your emotional space: your thoughts and feelings. Just as it feels good to walk into an organized closet or enjoy a sparkling hardwood floor, emotional spring cleaning can provide a boost and a sense of relief and accomplishment. So, put down your mop and storage bins because I’ve got a different kind of spring cleaning for you. Here’sÂ an emotional spring cleaning checklist to help you get started!
Emotional Spring Cleaning Checklist:
1. Cultivate quiet time
Ask yourself: Do I take time to reflect on my internal world? Am I able to identify how I am feeling and what I am thinking? What can I clear out of my internal home that will allow me to become a calmer, more centered person?
Plan some alone time to take an internal inventory and identify what has been cluttering your heart and mind. Meditation, prayer, hiking, and yoga are excellent examples of external acts that promote internal reflection. Spend time visualizing how you want to feel in your life and in your relationships.
2. Jot it in a journal
Ask yourself: What am I feeling and thinking? Is there anything that has been bothering me or weighing me down?
Putting pen to paper and identifying your thoughts and emotions helps clear out your emotional space, make emotions seem more manageable, and gives you a different perspective. You may not realize how cluttered your insides have become until you start articulating them. Emotions (E-motions) are “energy in motion” and they are designed to move through you, not to stay stuck in your body. Next time you feel emotionally burdened write it down. In my therapy practice, I keep a stack of small notebooks to give away to clients as “homework” assignments in which they can practice identifying and expressing thoughts and feelings.
3. Give up a grudge
Ask yourself: Am I holding on to past hurt that I’d be willing to let go of? Why am I still holding on to this resentment?
Releasing your grip on a gripe can free up emotional energy that you can then invest in other, more positive, areas of your life. I’ve heard it said that holding onto resentment is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. While having a range of emotions is normal, including anger and hurt, letting those feelings take up permanent residence in your heart ultimately hurts you. A recent couple I worked with realized the power of giving up a grudge. The wife kept bringing up how angry she was when her husband was quiet and how he “froze” when she was upset. She was resentful and hopeless until she realized her husband’s silence stemmed from his fear of making things worse, not because he didn’t care about her.
4. Offer an apology
Ask yourself – Is there someone in my life that, when I see them, stirs up feelings or regret or awkwardness about something I’ve said or done? Do I know that I’ve made a mistake that has hurt someone that I haven’t “clean up”?
If you feel unsettled about something you’ve said or done to another person, offer a sincere apology to clear the air. Even if it was unintentional on your part, a generous and heartfelt apology can remove unnecessary discomfort inside of you and repair damaged connections with others. I can attest to the relief that comes from taking ownership of a mistake or misstep. A few months ago I spoke with a friend about a lingering misunderstanding between us and owned up to my insensitivity. Though it was a fairly minor incident, I didn’t realize until it was resolved how much space it was taking in my internal life.
5. Forgive your faults
Ask yourself: Is there something that I’ve said or done, or a trait that I don’t like about myself that seems to clutter my mind?
Often, it is easier to overlook other’s faults than it is to let go of your own shortcomings. Over time it’s easy to collect evidence for negative self-evaluations like, “I am never good enough” or “I’m always putting my foot in my mouth” or “See! I’m not good at relationships”. Dwelling on your past mistakes or clutters the present and leads to self-critical thoughts and feelings. Humans aren’t inspired to do better by criticism, and this applies to self-criticism. How freeing it is to acknowledge that you will make mistakes and have weaknesses as a human, but that it is possible to learn from personal experiences and still maintain a sense of self-acceptance. When my therapy clients are able to achieve this self-acceptance in spite of their own weakness, I call this becoming an “emotional grown-up”.
6. Tell the truth
Ask yourself: When someone asks me how I’m doing, do I say that “I’m fine” even when I’m not?
A willingness to be emotionally honest with those we love can deepen our connections and allow our loved ones to offer support and encouragement to us. Recently, a young adult therapy client discovered when she “told the truth” to her parents she not only felt relieved but it also improved her relationships with them. If you are afraid that being more emotionally honest in your relationships will hurt them, think again. Not sharing your truth for long periods of time leads to emotional build up that eventually erupts, causing further breakdowns in communication and relationship break-ups.Â The emotional eruption does far more damage to relationships than speaking your truth all along the way.
Self & Relationship Expert Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW, founder and director of Wasatch Family Therapy, LLC specializes in women’s mental health therapy, marriage counseling and family therapy. Visit http://www.drjuliehanks.comfor more inspiration on how to let your best self shine!
May 2-8, 2010 is National Anxiety & Depression Awareness Week. Wasatch Family Therapy therapists are offering FREE screenings by appointment. Visit http://www.wasatchfamilytherapy.com or call (801) 944-4555 to schedule your screening.
I had a wonderful time chatting with long-time friend and fellow musician Steven Kapp PerryÂ about selecting songs for the CD,Â stories behind the songs, and how I’m trying to integrate all of the different parts of my life.Â
I wrote Pray For Rain right after I graduated with my master’s in clinical social work – a time when I was more acutely aware all of the pain and suffering going on in the world. I had spent the past year working intensely with abuse victims & perpetrators. At that same time there was a lot of upheaval and pain in my family of origin and in my extended family that left me feeling so helpless. I felt like there was nothing I could do except pray. Pray for Rain lyrics were my prayer, my cry out for help for myself, my family, and for the world. How we all need spiritual rain to “slake the thirst in this heartland”…
The Sibling Shuffle: Solutions for parenting more than one child
As one of nine children in my family of origin, and as the mother of four in my current family, I know all about the pain and the joys of sibling relationships and of the parenting challenges that come along with raising children. Here are some common complaints and dilemmas, and tips for parenting more than one child.
Common Complaints From Children To Parents
â€¢ That’s not fair!
â€¢ You like him/her better!
â€¢ How come you let him/her do _____________?
â€¢ Why do you baby him/her?
â€¢ How come you’re harder on me than the other kids?
Common Parenting Dilemmas
Here are some common family situations that may leave parents wondering how to manage their children’s varying needs:
â€¢ One child is dedicated to and involved in a sport, artistic, or academic area that is very time consuming and expensive.
â€¢ A child has an illness or disability and requires extra parental attention.
â€¢ Many years separate the ages of siblings so they are in different developmental stages.
â€¢ Your personality just “clicks” with one child over the others.
Solutions for Parenting More Than One Child:
1 -Focus on meeting needs instead of on fairness
No matter how hard you try to be “fair” among siblings there is really no way to achieve equality. There will be times when parent’s attention will shift slightly toward one child or another depending on each child’s needs. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but an opportunity for the other children to learn life lessons, like empathy and patience. Rather than trying to be fair, focus on meeting each child’s needs at each stage of development.
A wise friend and mother of four, Cori Connors, shared this helpful idea when it comes to parenting many children, “I always told my children they were soup…some need an onion, some need more bullion, some need more salt or a little pepper. If I didn’t taste and adjust according to what was needed it would be yucky soup. You can’t just presume that fine cuisine follows one recipe.”
2-Celebrate each child’s unique qualities
Each child has different talents and strengths that can and should be celebrated. For example, if your family is big on sports and one child is more gifted in art than athletics, be sure to attend his or her art shows and encourage siblings to show their support. If you have a child that is more challenging for you to understand or celebrate, it’s even more important to actively find strengths to celebrate. Be careful not to compare children to their siblings.
3-Avoid labeling your children
While it’s natural for parents to categorize (i.e. the baby, the quiet one, the smart one, the dumb one, the helpful one, the pretty one, the loud one) but keep in mind that labels, even when positive, can hinder your child’s self-expression and development especially when they are rigid and enduring. It may be more helpful to acknowledge each child’s efforts instead of using a general label. For example, instead of saying, “You’re so smart” try, “You work hard and really seem to care about doing well in school.”
4-Listen to each child’s underlying emotions & desires
Underscoring children’s complaints to parents about unfair treatment are often requests for their needs to be met and for their underlying emotions to be heard. As the parent, you have the honor of helping your child learn to identify their deeper emotions and to help them say what they want and need from you. For example, if a child says, “You love him more than me!” he may be trying to say “Mom, I’m sad that I’m not spending more time with you.” Put your own defensiveness on hold and try to hear the meaning behind the complaint.
5-Encourage cooperation instead of competition
Since most siblings seem to be competitive by nature, it’s easy as a parent to use this competition to motivate our children to do what we want them to do. Instead, Use phrases that encourage win-win situations and helping each other. Instead of saying, “Let’s see who can get their teeth brushed first” try “Let’s all get teeth brushed and read a book together.”
As I sat this evening on the sidelines watching my daughter’s lacrosse game, I was exhausted and looking forward to sitting down, unwinding, and watching the game.Â Quickly, my expectations for an hour of relaxationÂ were dashed when my hungry and thirsty and energetic 3 year old daughter MacyÂ began climbing on me, asking for food, refusing to wear her jacket, and sprinting across the long stretch of grass in the opposite direction.Â I didnâ€™t have the energy to chase her. I didnâ€™t even want to move.Â
I made a fewÂ idle threats like “You need to stay by me or you’ll have to go to the car” as I wondered, “How long do I have to stay and watch the game so my older daughter feelsÂ supported before I can leaveÂ to go home, eat, put my feet up and put this little one to bed?” I was emotionally and physically drained (for a variety of reasons and I will spare you the details).
As I was planning my exit strategyÂ IÂ noticed Macy,Â with her fair skin, yellow pigtails, and no jacket grinning with delight as she ran. HerÂ boundless energy stirredÂ a twinge of jealousy in me, as if somehow her glee was a threat.
Feeling a bit winded Macy sat downÂ on my lapÂ me and noticed that the family sitting next to usÂ had fruit snacks. She asked if she could have one and theyÂ gladly shared.Â Macy danced and made silly faces while eating it.Â I thought to myself, “I wish I could be so joyful aboutÂ small things.”Â
AsÂ she savored her fruit snack I noticed her slowly moving toward the little girl sitting next to us, tryingÂ to get her attention.Â Within a few minutesÂ Macy had made a new friend and was nestled up in the same chair while the older girl read a book to her.
Over the next 45 minutesÂ these two littleÂ girlsÂ chased each other, rolled around in the grass, and made a tent with the blanket and chairs, and pretended they were puppies. I marveled at how openÂ Macy was to reaching out and connecting to this girl without fear, and how easily delighted she was by the attention and the playful interaction. It dawned on me that the game was almost over.
During the final few minutes of the game I realized that whileÂ Macy was frolicking with her new friend,Â I had been sitting by this little girl’s momÂ and we hadn’tÂ exchangedÂ more than a fewÂ words. Taking the lead from my 3 year old, I turned to this lovely womanÂ and introduced myself, and began to askÂ about her andÂ her family. As the finalÂ whistle blew, we continued chatting and gathered our chairs and blankets, and mentioned that weâ€™ll likely be seeing a lot more of each other throughout the season. As we walked to the parking lot I felt energized, thanks to my 3 year old.
Producing a CD is a team sport withÂ many, many players. I’ve been blessed to work with so many amazing musicians, arrangers, producers, engineers, co-writers, executives, designersÂ through the years. Listening to this CD is like reliving the last 20 years of my life’s journey.Â Â Â
A highlight of producing this CD was reuniting with my producer John Hancock and getting back into the studio to record 2 NEW songs that are about themes in my current life – God’s Signature, & Hard ThingsÂ Â
Here are some behind the scenes shots of the band playing on the 2 new tunes.Â Â