Divorce & Holidays: What Matters & What Doesn’t | RU004

Divorce can take up so much energy in your life and adding the demands of any holiday season can become overwhelming. This episode helps you connect with what the holiday and the traditions mean to you. It illustrates how celebrating on the exact day with the expected menu does not matter nearly as much as finding gratitude and calm, and it gives you permission not to feel grateful right now if you can’t! It reminds you that family matters, though how you define family may change. Meaning, traditions, family, gratitude, and calm…precious gifts for any holiday season.

Questions for Reflection:

  1. What about this holiday resonates with me, and what message does it bring into my life?
  2. What three things (or more!) am I grateful for?
  3. How can I slow down so my life can catch up with me?

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About the Host:

Divorced after many years of marriage, Barb Greenberg founded Rediscovering U, a company that provides education, support, and resources for women transitioning through a divorce and into a new life. She and her company have been recognized for “…creating equality, justice, and self-determination for women…” She is an award-winning author of 3 books, Hope Grew Round Me, After the Ball: A Woman’s Tale of Happily Ever After, and The Seasons of Divorce: Insights for Women in Transition. Her books are available at a special price for you at https://rediscoveringu.com/divorce-sponsors/books/

Visit https://rediscoveringu.com to learn more!

You can also find Barb at:





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Barb Greenberg:

Hello, and welcome to rediscovering you where you will find valuable insights, support and education to help you move through the difficult and often painful process of divorce with grace and courage and hope, and find the ultimate gift of rediscovering yourself. I'm your host, Mark Greenberg, award winning author and founder of rediscovering you. If I'd had access to a resource like this during my divorce, I would have not felt so isolated, I would have made much better decisions, I still would have breathed for that for so hard for so long. And I wouldn't have eaten so many boxes of macaroni and cheese. When women heal, families heal, when families heal communities heal. When communities heal, the possibilities are endless. Let's get started.

Barb Greenberg:

I was going to start by saying no, when land, divorce, and the holiday season, it can be quite a challenge. But I decided I'd say instead, you know, sometimes it's just really hard isn't that it's just really tough. The challenging part comes a little bit later. Some times you feel sad, or you feel the loneliness more or a heaviness more, you or you may feel like a wrecking ball just destroyed a landmark building in your life. And all you're left with is the rubble, and the dust is settled, and you have to decide what to do next. And that's where the challenge is. That's the challenge. How do you rebuild and forward? How do you find what was a value to you in the past, and blend it with what you want for your future and create something new? So the first step, I feel is to clarify what matters and what really doesn't matter. So what matters for me anyway, I'm thinking probably for you, too, is what's the meaning of the holiday for you? How does it resonate with you personally and spiritually? What lessons does it offer? What gifts does it offer? What does it make you want to rediscover or learn? Or how does it help you heal? And the more time that goes by, and the more life experiences you have, the richer and deeper those meanings will become? So that's the first step no, you decide no, what do I want? How do I want it? What's important to me with this holiday. And then when you figured that out, or at least No, we never quite figure it all out. But when you kind of get close to figuring that most of it out, then it helps you decide what traditions are important to you and what aren't.

Barb Greenberg:

And that's another thing that is has value. What's important are the traditions, they create history, they create memories, they speak to your heart. So which are a value, which art? Which do you want to carry forward? Which new traditions do you want to create? How do you want to create them? And can I can you be patient as you figure all that out, because it may take some time. But and there there are different kinds of traditions, you probably have heard this story about the ham, bacon, the ham, or a woman said, you know, I've always cut off an inch or two of ham trimmed it before I put it in the pan to bake just because my mother always did. And one day I finally asked my mom, you know, what's the tradition be? Hi, this one, what's the meaning of this? Why do I cut off and trim this hand before it goes in the pan? Is there some special meaning? And her mom looked at her and said, Oh, yeah, no, not really. It just wouldn't fit in the pan. Otherwise, I had a really small pan. So we get to choose which traditions are more ham like, and which traditions really touch our heart. Then I have a feeling you may be getting a little angry with me. Because you've got you're saying, you know, somebody like things in my life have changed and you want me to change this to? I don't think so I'm not going to change anything anymore. I'm happy. Or you may think, oh my god, I'm trying to hold things together. And if I change the tradition, it's going to be one more thing I'm failing at and I messed up with and I just don't think I can handle it. And I understand because I felt that way too.

Barb Greenberg:

For another thing, which I've had to deal with, is, and you probably have to, well, this is the way it's always been done. We do it because this is the way it's always been done. It's sort of like when your parents say, do that, because I told you, so. I told you so. So just do it. So it can get a feeling of being trapped. But when you stop for a minute, you can realize that, oh, you get to choose, you get to choose the traditions that resonate with you, and what bring meaning to the holiday. And I think it's really fun. If you know, you can check with friends to see what they do. You can check with your children. I think the kids have great ideas. And they're very intuitive and creative. And they can then get really involved with creating the new traditions and supporting them. I have a friend who she just loves new tradition. So her tradition is that every year, the holiday time, she tries a new tradition, which I think is great. So those two are important things, I think the meaning and the traditions, and then what's not quite as important, what matters back quite so much is speaking of ham meals that you serve. No if you have special, a special something, you know, a cake or a casserole or something special that your grandmother always made. And it feels like a tradition to have that at your table, then of course, but you don't have to have the brisket every year or the turkey every year. I have a good story for you. When my older daughter was in college, we were visiting my brother during Thanksgiving time and he lived at that time in Cambridge, in a very small apartment, third floor walk up apartment. So you could stand in the kitchen and if you stretched your arms outside the side you could reach you could touch both walls of the kitchen. It was small.

Barb Greenberg:

My daughter that was going to be a challenge. She said I'm going to make Thanksgiving dinner for you guys. I'm going to do it. I'm really excited. So my brother and I opened up the car table, put it obviously not in the kitchen, put it in the little living area. We set the table and she came out a little bit later with a big bowl of macaroni and cheese. Then another bowl of heated up canned green beans, and then a platter of canned half peaches, loving, lovingly topped with a scoop of cottage cheese. Each of them. It was the best Thanksgiving we had so much fun we laugh we eat the love was like you could feel it. It was wonderful. And I will always remember it. So what you serve your menu, not always that important, right. And another thing that is not always important, that doesn't matter. All that much is celebrating on the exact date of the holiday. Because any day everyday really can be blessed and be sacred. If we allow it to if we decided to if we decide that it be blessed and sacred. I know a family that it's a big family and so there's lots of in laws and it's hard for everybody to get together. So the immediate family decides to have their Christmas in July. Yay. Right? Sometimes, if you're especially if you're dealing with custody issues, and you can't always have your children on the exact date of the holiday, celebrate with them the week before when there's still a lot of anticipation and do whatever is special. You can bake cookies together. You can go to movies together you can go outside and skate and sled or walk or climb or go to museums or go exploring and adventures in. Inside. You can do arts and crafts, you can do more baking, you can do you can do all sorts of fabulous things. The sky's the limit and it will create wonderful memories and then the develop a tradition for yourself on the actual actual holiday. If you can be with family Friends, that's awesome. If for some reason, you're not able to just make sure that you have something that you can do that's comforting the team lean, that eases your stress. If you need a good cry, find a movie that's a real charger and grab a box of Kleenex and just let loose. If you want to be uplifted, do the same thing, find a movie that will lift your spirits, or a book or a poem or music and dance around the kitchen. No, go for walks. Just there's, you have, I think we all have more options than we realize we have. And then family, family does matter. But how you define it doesn't always matter. or changes to changes. Families can be large, they're small, they're they may be just relatives, they may be friends and feel like relatives. Just that can be a combination of all sorts of people that you enjoy being with and that lift your spirits. And if you're searching for family, and you feel a little isolated and alone, please know that there's a community there waiting for you. There are other people searching to find you as well as you searching to find them.

Barb Greenberg:

When relatives invite you to come for a holiday celebration, by all means go with it feel safe, let yourself be pampered and clipped over and hugged and kissed and you know your cheek pinched and all those good things and waited out Oh, I love that one. And if you have children, they can play with constants and snuggle with grandchildren. And you know, play with a favorite aunt and I was the the aunt during the divorce immediately after the divorce where I was the weird aunt that people kind of didn't know what to do with. That was me. And at first I was a little it kind of bothered me. And then I kind of got into it. I was like, this is kind of cool, I get to be the weird out, yay. So I know people that they have situations, family situations where it does not feel safe. And it is not safe for them to celebrate with family. So they've usually chosen two options. One is they will say yes, I'll gladly come and I will be there for one hour. And then you know, that's the time, that's how much time I'm able to be there with you. Or they choose not to go. And you can as politely as possible, say, you know, thank you for the invitation, I'm not going to be able to come at this time, we don't have to make up an excuse or reason, which is for me a new, I'm still struggled with that I always want to have a list of reasons, a list of excuses for anything, just in case, I'd like my excuses ready to go just in case I need one. But you have to respect your intuition, and respect yourself and know what's safe and what's not safe. And, you know, found persists, like some families do, you could just repeat yourself. And if you do it with a sense of kindness, they can feel that energy and it eases the situation or can hopefully ease the situation. You may plan instead to go to a friend's house, or to stay home and read a good book. Or if you like being around people and you want company or just feel like company for the holidays, invite people over. And then if you worry, ah, it's gonna be too much work and it's going to be too expensive. Make it a potluck. And don't worry that your house has to look just right because one thing divorce has taught us is nothing's just right. Perfect is overrated. It's way overrated. And more of what matters. Gratitude matters. Not just at the holidays, right? Not just the holidays. And you and I may show our gratitude in different ways. A dear friend, I love this. She was really grateful that she had so many supportive friends when she was going through her divorce. So she said, You know, I decided that I'd already had a bridal shower. So I was going to invite my friends to a divorce sprinkle. I just thought that was great. Then I know my mom used to say, No, my dad can't always say he loves me, but I know he's how grateful he is for all I do because he when he gets up to clean the kitchen after I make dinner. That's that's the signal that he's very grateful. So it might not be a verbal thing that happens but you know the feeling and if you can't feel grateful right now, that's just fine. You know, it's you have to honor all your emotions, not just the shiny sparkly ones, but the darker gray are heavier ones, because that's the only way they will heal is if you acknowledge them. And then more, more important, just as important, it's a respectful thing to do for yourself. It's a respectful gesture. So just be patient. And keep things simple. I remember during the divorce and for some time after, I was grateful that I could speak in a complete sentence when absolutely necessary and be fairly coherent. That was what I was grateful for. I was also grateful that I didn't go through quite as many boxes of Kleenex as they did the day before. Another thing to be grateful for.

Barb Greenberg:

So you can start small. And then you begin to notice the little things, you know, the there's a bird sitting out on the branch of the tree outside your house, the cat, again is curled up on your lap for a nap, the sun is shining, you were driving and the red light turned green, just as you're approaching, it can be any little you found, you found what you were looking for right away to the grocery store without having to search little things like that. You may already have a gratitude journal, or you may want to create one, or you may not, but it's okay to I don't have a journal because I usually forget what I'm grateful for as the day goes on. By the time the end of the day, I'm like I can't remember. So usually, as the day goes by, I'll notice things and go and just say thank you, either in my head to myself or out loud to somebody else, thank you. And it makes me smile, it makes the day seem smoother and lighter. So that's what works for me. But journals are fabulous. Also. And you what you do, if you're not familiar with them, at the end of the day, you sit down and you write down everything you were grateful for that day, which is really nice. It's a nice way to go to sleep, feeling grateful. I have a friend who has instead of a journal, she has a big glass jar, a clear jar. And she takes little pieces of colored paper. And each night, she takes one colored piece of paper, small paper writes something she was grateful for, folds it up, puts it in the jar, then she takes a different colored piece of paper, writes another thing she was grateful for, holds it up and puts it in the jar. And that continues, you know through the evening and day after day, week after week. And this jar fills up with colors of gratitude. And just that image just just makes me smile. I just love that. And another thing about gratitude is it's not a solitary exercise. In this world where there's so much pain and fear and despair, being grateful showing you your humanity being kind, it makes a difference. It makes a difference for you. It makes a difference for the world. You live in one on one with people you can change someone's day by just saying thank you or holding a door or you only have one item, why don't you go in front of me in the checkout line, just little things like that. It can be a force through which we offer to others. compassion and understanding and it can motivate us to act and make a difference. And one more thing I'd like to share about what matters for today is being calm, finding calm, CA LM calm, which I'm not always so good at. But when you're dealing with divorce, there's enough stress and overwhelm and then you add the holidays on top of it. And oh my gosh, you end up sometimes in those conversations or your hear those conversations where one person will say, Oh my god, I can't believe all the things I had to do today. This this this rant here and there and haven't finished that and I've got to do that and oh my gosh, I just don't know how I'm gonna handle this all and then the response from somebody else's Oh, you think your day was bad? Let me tell you about my day. So yeah, you know, that was I know last so it can become a competition. And also that rushing around can also be a acceptable form of addiction. Because if you stay busy enough, if you'd like to stay busy and stay busy enough, you can avoid the painful emotions, at least for a while. They will get with you, but it's a way that a lot of people use to avoid your emotions. And what happens is, especially in this culture, when there's so much we're supposed to do, we feel that if we don't keep moving, things are gonna fall apart. But they're much more likely to fall apart if we don't stop, right? Plus, what's wrong with a little falling apart? Right? When things fall apart, eventually, and we've all seen it, they come back together in a healthier, more vibrant, more brilliant way. So it's okay. Don't worry if things fall apart.

Barb Greenberg:

And when you find what truly is a value to you, hopefully, your health and your children's health family's health are on the top of the list, then you it's easier to choose you don't have to bake cookies if you don't want to. Or you don't have to know what else do you do that you don't want to do your name, I go to open houses, that's another one. You don't have to go to every open house if you don't want to. Unless of course you enjoy those things, then go and do and bake. Your laundry doesn't have to be folded just right or depending on your tolerance level. It doesn't have to be folded at all. You don't have to complete every errand on your to do list. Oh my gosh, that one got to me, because I would I remember taking my trusty to do list because I was tired, you have to get it all done right away. I took my trusty to do list. I backed out of the driveway, robot floor blocks. And I had to turn around and come home. I just couldn't do it. I had to stop. Sometimes your body just makes you stop insists that you stop. And that's a good thing to listen to. If that happens, listen, listen to it. And when you do stop what happens? It's really interesting. Your life can catch up with you, your life can find you. How cool is that. And in the long run, you get more done, you stay healthier, your stress level drops, you're able to make better decisions because you can actually process information better. And you can hear your intuition when it speaks to you. So by realizing that holiday menus, and the days you serve them on don't necessarily matter that much. And that the meanings and the traditions and family and gratitude and find in calm matter quite a bit. You're offering yourself wonderful gifts, you are honoring, and respecting yourself and cherish cherishing yourself.

Barb Greenberg:

And that's the best holiday gift. Thank you for joining me today. It's wonderful to connect with you and I appreciate you so much. Don't forget to access your free virtual treasure chest, head on over to rediscovering you.com You like in a university where you can access this gift that keeps on giving because every week you'll receive a new treasure, a treasure that can support you on your journey. So you too can save on Kleenex and boxes of mac and cheese. And you'll be connected to our wonderful community for support education and encouragement.

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