Thursday, December 5, 2013

10 Tips for Surviving the Holidays After a Divorce or Breakup

10 Tips for Surviving the Holidays After a Divorce or Breakup by Beth Hemmila of the Breakup Care Package

I think we can all agree that the holiday season is difficult for everyone. Even if you're in a relationship, separated, or divorced, the holidays trigger a mass of conflicting emotions about love, family, and self-care. From November to February we encounter a group of celebrations that paint an idealized version of love that is suppose to be found outside ourselves rather than within. This picture of love is nearly impossible to attain and maintain in the form we so desire.

Don't get me wrong. I appreciate the holiday season, but what I've learned to embrace is the essence buried beneath all the hype of idealized love so as to focus on the simple stuff.

Here are some tips for both singles and families with kids facing the holiday without a spouse or partner. These are things that you may be using for many celebrations to come and not just during the first year after a breakup or divorce. Learning to approach the holidays after the idealized image of what your life was suppose to look like and what it truly is may be an ongoing process.

Focus on What You Have
During the holiday season, focus on the positive things happening in your life and turn your attention away from what you feel is missing. For instance, maybe you miss the home you built together, communal dinners around the table, and a Christmas tree; however, this year you have a warm and cozy apartment, activities with new friends, time with your kids, and a holiday dinner made by other people.

By having gratitude for what is happening in the present, you are learning to grieve and let go of the past. This will welcome into your life new holiday experiences.

Have a Plan
If you sense the holidays will be an emotionally difficult time for you, be proactive and put a plan in place for what you want to be doing. For the first couple years, you might want to be creative and think outside the normal holiday traditions. See it as a time to experiment and try something new. If you've always spent the holidays with friends and family, maybe go on a vacation instead and do something fun.

Above all try to keep your celebration simple the first couple years after a loss of relationship. It's important to conserve your emotional energy because you will be using it to grieve your loss.

Have Fun & Create a New Tradition Just for You
If you're going to be home alone without a partner or your kids, give yourself something that is going to cultivate self-love and acceptance. Read a special book, buy yourself a gift, listen to holiday music, watch a particular movie, cook new kinds of food, knit hats for the homeless, go roller skating or ice skating, schedule a hiking trip, or buy gifts for families in need. Instead of reaching for traditions that may have been handed down from your family of origin, look at the stuff you like to do, the things that make you happy, and create a new tradition from there.

Keep Busy But Not Too Busy
I'm almost reluctant to offer this advice because I know staying busy can also be an emotional escape route -- a way to avoid the pain of breaking up or getting divorced. However, the holiday season is like the Superbowl of unfulfilled needs in regards to love, so staying busy might actually be a coping tool that is necessary just to make it through. Hey, you might just have to do what you have to do to get to the other side and realize that next year might be different. 

My recommendation is to check in and continually ask yourself, "Am I staying busy to avoid the pain of the loss of love?" If the answer is "Yes," don't beat yourself up, just use it as a moment to be kind and gentle with yourself. Give yourself a mental hug. Say to yourself, "I see that I'm sad right now so I'm staying busy to escape the discomfort. May I have the strength to get through this holiday season and find the courage to face my pain in the future."

Here are some things you can do to keep busy: volunteer for a charity, visit an elder care facility, get involved at your church or community center, clean and organize your house, exercise, invest in new projects, and play with the kids.

Use the Holidays as a Lesson in Gratitude & Giving
Sometimes the holidays can get lost in the fancy food, gift giving, and gatherings. Why not use your breakup or divorce as an opportunity to strip these holidays down to their essence? What is the core message of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year's, Valentines Day, etc.?

For me, all these celebrations are an opportunity to express gratitude for life and in response we give back in some symbolic way.

This could be the perfect time to begin a conscious gratitude practice. Throughout the holiday season, wake up in the morning, and like a reverent prayer, say aloud or write down in your journal at least one thing you are grateful for today.

More importantly, look for unique ways you can give back either through monetary gifts, labor, or your gentle presence.

Exercise & Eat Well
I can't emphasize this advice enough. If you are a person who gets depressed during the holidays and uses food as a way to feel more loved, stay conscious of this strategy. Again, don't beat yourself up for being this way, just remain aware of your behavior and put a healthy plan in place ahead of time.

Put your eating and exercise routine in place in October. Don't make it so strenuous that it will be hard to keep up, but give yourself reachable goals like walking three times a week and replacing fattening snack foods like chocolate with smoothies. Stick to it the best you can and keep it simple.

When you slip off the exercise routine and eating habits, just notice what's happening, laugh at yourself, and then come back.

Treat your body well by getting your hair cut, going for a massage, and getting out in the fresh air and sunshine. Stay connected and aware of your body's sensations and health during the holiday season. Disconnecting from your body is one way to avoid the pain of what's happening in your life, so try to tune in to your body's messages for self-care and act on them.

Use this time to investigate your emotional eating habits by reading my ebook Love, Mindfulness, and Food. This book also has some eating tips that might help when faced with holiday meals. 

Avoid Bars & Clubs
If you've just broken up or gotten divorced, and you're feeling lonely during the holiday season, resist the urge to seek out romantic companionship. More than likely you're not ready to date during this extremely emotional time, and it's possible you want to use the distraction of a new relationship or sex to avoid the discomfort of your sadness and pain.

If you gravitate to bars and dance clubs for companionship, consider these places off limits during the holiday season. Instead focus your energy for emotional connection into healthy communities such as support groups, spiritual centers, extended family, charities, or special interest groups.

Plan for Depression
Be realistic about potential depression and sadness during the holidays. Have a plan in place for who you are going to call when things get emotionally difficult. Reach out and ask someone to be your lifeline for when you might need some emotional help.

Evaluate your depression. If you are seriously depressed, don't delay getting professional help and counseling during this time. See the holidays as a positive catalyst that might put you on the road to new found healing.

Alternatively, if you feel you are only experiencing mild sadness and grief, then check out these ten tips for coping with loneliness and depression.

Dig into A Spiritual Practice
Maybe you are a very spiritual person or perhaps you've never thought much about the meaning of life. Your breakup or divorce is the perfect opportunity for digging into a spiritual practice or developing a new one.

Generate Hope
When your pain and grief becomes too great, always tell yourself that it will get better because truly it does. All you have to do is look back at any challenge you've faced in your life to see there is proof of hope for things to get better.

Write an example of a difficult experience down on a post it note and then prove how your life got better afterwards. Keep this post it note with you as a talisman or a reminder that this moment will pass. You will learn to let go, your suffering will ease, and new positive experiences will come into your life in the future.

10 Tips for Surviving the Holidays as a Divorced Family by Beth Hemmila of the Breakup Care Package

10 Tips for Surviving the Holidays as a Divorced Single Parent

  1. Practice being non-reactive with your ex. Many emotional buttons may be pushed during the holidays, so develop an awareness practice to just observe your emotions and not react.
  2. Enjoy the time you have with your kids, and avoid focusing on how the holidays have changed because of your divorce.
  3. Avoid making the holidays a competition between you and your ex. Focus on the big stuff like being to together, playing games, and creating traditions. Keep things simple and avoid buying expensive gifts and planning extravagant celebrations. Become aware of any unconscious desire you have to make the kids feel guilty about spending time with your ex.
  4. Create new traditions that celebrate the whole season without focusing on one specific day. Involve grandparents and other family members in making these new traditions.
  5. Cultivate a generous spirit and help your children shop for a gift for your ex. Decide if the gift exchange will be with your partner or separate. You may want to avoid celebrating the holidays together because it could foster a fantasy that you and your ex will get back together.
  6. Be proactive and collaborate on a parenting schedule for the holidays in October. Put it in writing to make sure you're both on the same page. 
  7. If your kids have to travel out of state, make these arrangements well in advance and share the details with the your ex.
  8. Try alternating where the meals are going to be eaten instead of requiring the kids to sit through more than one meal on the same day.
  9. Figure out who is responsible for handling childcare during school break.
  10. Keep the dialogue going with your kids during the holidays. Ask them what they want and how they're feeling. Give them choices and within reason respect their decisions.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Breakup or Divorce: The Gift of Adversity & Building Fortitude

Breakup or Divorce A Gift for Building Fortitude by Beth Hemmila of the Breakup Care Package

Not too long ago I had a dream about a math test that took three days. There was a problem on the test that nobody could solve. It was impossible.

At the end of the test, the teacher asked us why we thought he put an impossible problem on the test. I said that it felt like a spiritual lesson for developing fortitude.


The ability to be courageous when faced with pain or adversity is the essence of fortitude. Some synonyms for fortitude include endurance, resilience, strength of character, steadfastness, strong-mindedness, spirit, and guts.

Experiencing the breakup of a relationship or divorce is a spiritual lesson that will help you develop fortitude. It takes guts to be the dumpee or dumper. No one is a winner. Both sides of the equation come with emotional work to be done.

Right now things might hurt or perhaps you feel ashamed. You might think of these things as burdens that are weighing you down. Why not start thinking of them like weights at the gym that you're using to build muscle?

When you're out of shape, and you pick up a weight of course it's going to be difficult and painful at first, but if you keep practicing soon you will build muscle and strength.

This can be the same experience with a breakup or divorce. It's a problem life has given you as a spiritual tool for building fortitude. See this adversity as a mechanism for growth. Keep working on yourself emotionally and physically. Uncover the stuff you are responsible for that may have contributed to the demise of your relationship. It's the perfect time to come clean and be honest with yourself. Don't let yourself get trapped in a state of victimhood which could put your journey on pause. Instead try to dissolve the barriers holding you back from loving yourself and others. Take healthy risks to build self-confidence. Maintain the well-being of your body. Learn to forgive yourself and others.

Face the denial, anger, sadness, and grief and over time you will build fortitude -- a type of inner strength that perhaps didn't exist before.

More importantly, start to see that it's highly possible this fortitude is something you're going to need further down the road. So embrace your pain as growth for in actuality, your breakup or divorce could be your teacher calling on you to start training for something bigger.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Breakup or Divorce: Tips on Moving Out OR Redecorating to Stay

Tips on Moving Out OR Redecorating to Stay After a Divorce by Beth Hemmila of the Breakup Care Package

If you've just recently experienced a breakup or divorce, you probably had to make a decision about who moves out of the house or apartment. You may be the person that had to go and find a new place to live or you could be the person who stayed. Alternatively, maybe both of you moved out and you are faced with selling a house together.

No matter your circumstance after your breakup or divorce -- whether you moved out or stayed behind -- each situation has its advantages and disadvantages. The key is figuring out how you want to deal with the problems you're faced with.

Moving Out

Maybe you had no choice, and you had to leave your living situation or perhaps you wanted to move out. Looking for a new place to live can be a very stressful thing to embark upon while you are also dealing with the confusing and painful feelings surrounding your breakup or divorce. You might start small with a simple efficiency apartment as you transition to finding the perfect location and living arrangement. Think of this first place after the end of your relationship as a sort of base camp -- a place of operations to plan your next move over the coming year.

Consider renting a house or an apartment on a short term or month-to-month lease for your temporary space. If you have family or friends that are willing to put you up for a month or two, then this might help you make a smoother transition because you will have their emotional support. Do you want to live alone or do you want roommates to help liven things up? Will you be sharing custody of the kids? If so, make sure you consider the space obligations you will need to fulfill if you will be having the kids spend the night.

Should you pack up everything you need or take as little as possible and start afresh? When I moved out I took just the essentials and added new things later. In this way, it felt like building a new nest, and I wasn't weighed down with lots of memories attached to the objects in my life.

Staying Behind

Moving out has drama attached to it because someone is dislocated from their home and has to find a new place to live. However, staying behind can be equally as challenging, because you are faced with remaining in an environment that is filled with memories of your love relationship. It might actually be more difficult to feel like you are starting afresh because you are constantly reminded of your love relationship in the space you inhabit.

A suggestion to make this easier is to consider doing some purging and redecorating. Get rid of the stuff you don't need. Rethink how your living space is used. Now that your partner left, do you have an empty room that could be turned into an art studio or home office? Do a deep cleaning of your home. Paint the walls a new color, move furniture around, and purchase relatively inexpensive items that have big impact like bedding, curtains, plants, and accessories. If you don't have a whole lot of money, shop at thrift stores or ask your friends if they have anything they'd like to get rid of or trade.

When you move out, you may feel like you have made a clean break and can start rebuilding your life. However, because you left the environment of your relationship, it may actually take more time to grieve your loss because denial could be getting in the way of you moving forward. Having to stay behind and face the end of your relationship in the home you both built together could be incredibly difficult but in the long run you might actually confront your grief head on.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Learning to Say No in Relationships

Learning to Say No in Relationships by Beth Hemmila of the Breakup Care Package

A breakup or divorce is essentially one form of saying "No." You or your partner said, "No, I don't want to be in relationship with you." As difficult as that may be to express or receive, the simple truth is that "No" holds a beautiful honesty and ultimately values our deepest needs for loving kindness towards ourselves and others.

At some point in your life, while in relationship, you might be the dumpee who receives the "No." Other times you may be the person who is the dumper saying "No." Neither scenario is easy and each experience has its challenges and discomforts. However, in the following post, I offer an alternative way for working with the "No's" in your life that could help you move through the pain and to a place of understanding and love.

- Beth Hemmila

Saying "No" can be challenging. My own personal history of saying "No" has been a bit of a journey. I can't remember me as a toddler, but I'm guessing I probably liked exercising my new vocabulary of "No" quite frequently. However, as I got older things changed, my people-pleaser instinct kicked in, and I chose to swallow a lot of "No's" to avoid potential conflict. I struggled with wanting others to be happy with me and the fear of jeopardizing love.

If this sounds like you, and you fear the loss of love from others, potential criticism, and other forms of subtle punishment, saying "No" could be perceived as a huge emotional risk.

Perhaps another way to look at this experience is to first become acquainted with how you receive "No's" from other people. Do you receive "No" with grace and understanding? Do you take someone's "No" personally? Are you able to hear and feel the underlying need this person has that is prompting them to politely decline?

I have to admit hearing some "No's" have triggered hurt and pain. And I'm sure there are people in my life that have been afraid to say "No" to me. Receiving certain "No's" in the past have stimulated feelings of shame and inadequacy such as when I didn't get the job, the person I liked didn't want to go out with me, or something I wanted wasn't going to happen the way I planned.

"No" can be a kind of metaphorical death. Someone or something couldn't fulfill your needs and you are asked to sit and be with the helplessness, loneliness, and discomfort. In this way, perhaps when we react negatively to someone's "No" what's really happening is that we are trying to avoid the suffering of this miniature death. If we get angry or frustrated, our big scale reactions mask our deeper feelings of sadness, grief, or anxiety that may result from hearing "No" and realizing our need might not be met in the way we imagined.

However, if you wipe away all the confusing emotions the simple truth of "No" is that another person was unable to meet your needs. Your needs and their needs didn't match up and he or she is not able to fulfill your desire.

So if you are a person that has a difficult time saying "No," maybe the place to start is to begin receiving other people's "No's" with compassion. When you hear a "No," begin thinking, "What need can I honor in this person by graciously receiving their "No?" Divorce yourself from "No" being a personal affront and look within the other person. Attempt to see and value his or her need for relaxation, peace, adventure, choice, safety, and independence that is crying out to be acknowledged and begging him or her to say "No" to you.

When you hear a "No" from someone, see this person as a risk-taker. They are trusting in your love for them as a fellow human being so much that they are willing to say "No" to you. Make yourself the biggest fan of other people's "No's." This experience of receiving a "No" with grace may empower a person to continue to take care of their own well-being.

As you start valuing the "No's" of other people, this may lead you to honor and voice your own "No's." Saying and receiving "No's" could be one of your greatest vehicles for developing trust with others and yourself as well as practicing a deeper form of loving kindness.

By being able to say and receive "No's" graciously, you stay centered within yourself and understand that you and others are completely fulfilled, supported, and loved just as you are without any additional needs being met.

Contrary to popular beliefs, learning when to say "No" is a practice in loving kindness.
- Beth Hemmila

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Confront Fears & Improve Your Life After a Divorce or Breakup

Confront Fears and Improve Your Life After a Divorce or Breakup by Beth Hemmila of the Breakup Care Package

One of the greatest gifts that comes from the breakup of a love relationship or divorce is the opportunity to invest energy into your own personal growth.

When before you may have been focused on the care and feeding of a relationship, now is the perfect time to turn that around and develop new things in you. By investing energy into growing parts of yourself you will enrich your life and prepare yourself for a future of new relationships that lie ahead.

When I got divorced one of the first things I did was take a painting class. I walked into class completely freaked out because even though I have a degree in art, I had never been taught how to paint. As I sheepishly told the teacher my plight, she smiled and said, "That's actually pretty common for a lot of artists. They get stuck in their chosen discipline and don't explore other things."

Five minutes after walking into class the teacher's kind words managed to wash away 20 years of fear and shame of not knowing how to paint. This moment opened my eyes as to what divorce could do for me. I was already stuck in a place of anxiety regarding my new circumstances of being alone again, why not use it as a time to confront some of my other fears that had been hiding out in the closet gathering dust.

I didn't become a talented painter by taking this class, but I did extinguish a long held belief that didn't have the skill set to enjoy painting. I confronted my fear and now that little bit of discontent is at peace.

Maybe you need to take up rock climbing to confront your fear of heights or maybe you're avoiding learning how to file your taxes on your own. They can be big or small fears that are lurking in the shadows, silently eroding your self-esteem.

Take a class, find an expert, make a new friend, read a how-to book, and practice, practice, practice. You have to make the first step to confront your fear and more than likely it will disappear over time. As you do this, gradually you will feel more self-confident and trust in your resilience when you are afraid in the future.

If you want to watch a sweet and funny movie about using the breakup of a relationship as an opportunity to confront your fears and empower your life, watch If I Were You.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Denial & Moving On From a Divorce or Breakup

Denial and Moving On from a Divorce or Breakup by Beth Hemmila of the Breakup Care Package

One of the early stages of grieving a loss is denial, and the breakup or divorce of a love relationship will most likely catapult you into a place of denial at some point along the way.

I've mentioned before that I was so deeply in denial after my divorce that I denied to myself and friends that I was even in denial. I could even see people laughing and shaking their heads at me. Maybe they had a little worry and concern mixed in there too. But I believed myself to be such a rational person, I just couldn't fathom I would hideout in denial for so long.

However, denial is such a shadowy thing and when you are in denial you can't even see that you're stuck there until you start to make your way out of it.

If you've recently experienced the breakup of a relationship or your marriage ended in divorce you might be in denial right now. Hey, that's okay with me, I think I stayed in denial for about two years, so I'm no expert over here.

In fact, I'm guessing denial was a safe place for me to be until I was ready to truly feel and own up to the painful reality of my situation. Denial was my personal coping mechanism or survival instinct kicking in. It allowed me get up every morning and function like a normal person until I got to a better place in my life. I needed to take baby steps until my heart could handle the full intensity of my disappointment and grief.

Here are some ways you might be in denial regarding the end of your relationship:

  • You keep yourself very busy with lots of projects, fun activities, or work so as to not feel the pain of your loss.
  • Secretly, in the farthest reaches of your brain, you nurture a little thought that says, "Maybe in the distant future we will get back together."
  • You place a lot of the blame for the end of your relationship on your partner and don't take responsibility for your own actions and choices.
  • You keep thinking, "If only he/she would get counseling, everything would improve and we could be together again."
  • You keep dreaming up mental stories of "If only..." running through your head. 

Your love relationship ended. It's over and how and when you chose to accept it is completely up to you. Just know that when you do, it will be one of the most painful experiences because it is like the death of someone you loved, so I hope you will be gentle with yourself.

Here are some questions to ask along the way as a reality check:

  • Am I comfortable telling friends that my relationship or marriage is over?
  • Have I started to understand and take responsibility for the reasons my love relationship ended?
  • Do I see my breakup or divorce as a creative process that will help me grow?
  • Am I investing energy into my own personal growth for the future or am I still thinking about my past relationship?
  • Do I escape into fantasies about getting back together?
  • Have I learned how to feel happy and loved without a partner before I commit to another relationship?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Breakup or Divorce: Dealing with Guilt and Shame

Breakup or Divorce: Dealing with Guilt and Shame by Beth Hemmila of Breakup Care Package

Easy is a blindfold.
- Beth Hemmila
When you breakup or get divorced there is a boatload of shame tagging along behind you. Even though statistics indicate that 41% of first marriages end in divorce, which seems like a huge chunk of the population to me, our culture still seems to attach a lot of unconscious shame to this life experience of letting go.

Consequently, the end of your relationship is going to give you an opportunity to work with a lot of deep shame that has been lurking behind you perhaps your entire life, asking for your love and attention. Working with your uncomfortable feelings won't be easy but in the following post, I've given you a sense of how you might be with the shame that accompanies a breakup or divorce.


You can't escape from suffering. Rinse and repeat.

I know this concept very well, but unfortunately my mind is convinced there will be a glorious end to the pain, hassles, challenges, and discomforts of my life. In fact, secretly I believe I am an escape artist with the power to exit stage left wherever pain exists. What's waiting for me off stage that's so exciting? The belief that things will be easy.

But what I keep hearing life say back to me is that there is no escape. If you run from suffering, it follows you and takes another form. It knocks on your door and says, "Hey, What's up? I've been looking for you all over the place."

One of the deepest forms of suffering we all share is shame. Something that I think most of us would like to avoid. Many times we see ourselves trying escape difficult situations, relationships, jobs, and circumstances -- things we can name and point to with a childlike certainty. However, what's more illusive is when we are running away from our own shame. It's hard to see and touch. Shame is difficult to explain to another person because it's all wrapped up in our mysterious thoughts and feelings.

Shame is like a scruffy, mangy, flea-ridden dog from the streets who tags along behind you looking for a handout. Maybe at first you don't see him, but then he patiently waits outside your door all skinny and beat up, making noise, disrupting your day, asking you to pay attention. You don't want to give him the time of day because he might cause you discomfort.

This is what shame feels like to me. You can't shake him. He sticks to you like glue asking for your time and a morsel of your love.

The other day while I was having yet another big lesson in no escape from shame, I felt my mind scurry around looking for solutions, band aids, and a way out. Then I realized that without a doubt there was no where to run. So I sat and laughed. And then I cried because I finally understood what it was like to have equanimity for myself.

In Buddhism, equanimity means to "stand in the middle of all this," and I have written about it before in regards to dealing with other people and circumstances outside yourself, but I have never explored how you can apply it to your own self. How do you stand in the middle of all you have created from your relationship and its ending, including the shame that follows you like a shadow wherever you go, and just be with it?

What I discovered is that perhaps you have to be like a kindly grandmother with your shame. Sit there. See it. Maybe even hold it's hand. You're not there to fix, heal or change your shame but to just be with it. To practice a sort of soft patience as you and your shame breathe in time together. To rest in the middle of all of it and recognize everything will be okay just as it is.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Growing Up & Breaking Up

Growing Up and Breaking Up by Beth Hemmila of The Breakup Care Package

Sometimes breaking up or divorce is a healthy sign that you or your partner are growing. And as we already know growing up is never easy or without heartache.

As you grow older you learn more about who you are, what you want to do, and who you want to spend time with. If you're moving in a positive direction, you may be developing more self-esteem and taking on more and more responsibility. You may have a whole new set of values that weren't there when you met your partner.

There is a possibility that as you grow up, you and your partner may grow apart. When you separate it's important to keep in mind that as you discover new parts of yourself, you may also see new things in your former partner as they meet and create new relationships with other people. Releasing yourself and your partner from a relationship that may have stagnated is like separating flowers in the garden that have become overgrown -- sometimes you need to uproot them and find a new location for each of them to thrive.

Some people have a mid-life crisis and the timing of this experience coincides with divorce, but what I believe is truly involved is that personal needs have shifted. What you now value and may need might not be what your partner desires as a couple. You've discovered more about yourself and refined your journey.

You've changed the what and who that are important to you. Perhaps you want to shift careers, have more quality time with the kids, and take on new adventures. Alternatively, something you held in common may have disappeared, and you and your partner don't have the connection you once felt such as when the kids have grown up and moved away.

It's scary to spend so much time with another person and realize at some point you'll have to let them go either through death or a process of breaking up. However, growing up and evolving into new people is one way we create more interconnection with the world and continue our spiritual journeys.

Two movies you might check out that are both eloquent and painful in their exploration of the growing up and breaking up process are:

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

3 Steps for Moving On After a Breakup or Divorce

3 Steps for Moving On After a Breakup or Divorce by Beth Hemmila

Life is like catching a bus, and there are 3 steps you can use to help navigate difficult circumstances such as a breakup or divorce. 


In life, you get to decide what bus you want to get on. Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? Who do you want to hang out with? The first thing to do is set your intentions.


Next you need to figure out where this bus picks you up and when. You need to make preparations and ready yourself to be at life's bus stop on time so you can catch the ride to where you're going.

Showing Up

Lastly you need to show up. If you arrive late, then your bus might pass you by. Life's bus doesn't bother to look behind while you're chasing after it. The bus doesn't stop for anyone. It just keeps rolling on.

The Other Method

Alas, if you didn't make a decision on your intentions, prepare, or show up on time. Life will always bring another bus along. It might not be the one you wanted but this can be fun too!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Breakup or Divorce: A Path for Empathy & Fearlessness

Breakup or Divorce A Path for Empathy and Fearlessness by Beth Hemmila

When you breakup or divorce, an important concept to embrace is self-empathy -- a kind of emotional gentleness and understanding towards yourself. Working with self-empathy in regards to the painful events happening in your life can be a path for increasing your ability to have empathy for others.

If you aren't sure what self-empathy feels like, working the first 4 steps from my book Lemonade Mantras will give you a process for cultivating this quality within yourself. You can download a copy of my free ebook Lemonade Mantras by clicking here. Also, many of the exercises in my Divorce Care Package ebook are designed to foster self-empathy.

Once you've worked with self-empathy, then you can start to expand outward, extending your circle of compassion and developing empathy for others. Loving Kindness meditation is a great way to expand your empathy.

However, I also like to use Tonglen, a simple Buddhist meditation technique for practicing empathy and letting go of fear. Tonglen can be done on the spot in the most difficult of moments and doesn't require special techniques or circumstances for you can do it while driving in the car or in the middle of a business meeting.

Tonglen (sending-and-taking) practice also helps cultivate fearlessness. When you do this practice for some time, you begin to realize that fear has to do with wanting to protect your heart: you feel that something is going to harm your heart, and therefore you protect it.

How to Do Tonglen Meditation

  1. Think of someone you love who is suffering.
  2. Imagine the pain they are feeling.
  3. Breathe in through your nose very deeply and imagine breathing in their pain.
  4. Hold your breath briefly for a second or two and rest in the feeling of their pain.
  5. Breathe out through your nose healing energy that might relieve this person's pain (e.g., joy, happiness, peace, etc.).
  6. The core practice of Tonglen is breathing in the pain of others and breathing out healing energy.
  7. Next identify the pain or discomfort you are feeling in your own life and imagine all the other people in the world who are feeling exactly the same way as you. For example, you can call to mind all the other people who are also going through a breakup or divorce alongside you.
  8. Breathe in this collective pain and then breathe out compassionate energy for all.
  9. Keep breathing in this way for as long as you like to see what happens and feel your heart expand. The longer the better!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Breakup or Divorce: Curiosity & Being a Pinball Wizard

Breakup of Divorce: Being a Pinball Wizard by Beth Hemmila

Life's changes are a bit like the bumpers and flippers on a pinball machine. Changes propel you outward in new directions. When you breakup or get divorced, you are now bouncing off something that may have been comfortable and once worked for you into a whole new territory. This kind of change can be scary.

Underneath the chaos of a breakup or divorce is a pattern of growth, asking you to stretch and try new things, form new relationships, and see yourself in a new way. A breakup or divorce is throwing you out of your comfort zone into the unknown.

If you can embrace this sensation of drastic change by becoming curious about your life and new experiences, then underneath it all you will sense that you are always at ease no matter the circumstances. In this way, you will know that you are a pinball wizard at one with the seemingly beautiful chaos that is your life.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

New Relationships After a Breakup or Divorce

Growing Relationships After Divorce Beth Hemmila Breakup Care Package

Cast All Your Votes for Dancing
By Hafiz

I know the voice of depression

Still calls to you.

I know those habits that can ruin your life

Still send their invitations.

But you are with the Friend now

And look so much stronger.

You can stay that way

And even bloom!

Keep squeezing drops of the Sun

From your prayers and work and music

And from your companions’ beautiful laughter.

Keep squeezing drops of the Sun

From the sacred hands and glance of your Beloved

And, my dear,

From the most insignificant movements

Of your own holy body.

Learn to recognize the counterfeit coins

That may buy you just a moment of pleasure,

But then drag you for days

Like a broken man

Behind a farting camel.

You are with the Friend now.

Learn what actions of yours delight Him,

What actions of yours bring freedom

And Love.

Whenever you say God’s name, dear pilgrim,

My ears wish my head was missing

So they could finally kiss each other

And applaud all your nourishing wisdom!

O keep squeezing drops of the Sun

From your prayers and work and music

And from your companions’ beautiful laughter

And from the most insignificant movements

Of your own holy body.

Now, sweet one,

Be wise.

Cast all your votes for Dancing!

While I transitioning from marriage to being single again, I spent time with a support group of men and women all experiencing different stages of divorce. When we went our separate ways, a friend sent Hafiz' poem as a goodbye gift.

While reading it, I laughed and cried all at the same time for divorce or breaking up can feel like being a "broken man behind a farting camel." It's both sad and absurdly funny all at the same time.

What makes divorce or a breakup easier is the promise of growing relationships. Though your intimate love relationship might be over, the future is bringing a rich variety of new relationships to learn and grow from.

In the beginning, be aware that these relationships may not include the family and friends you might expect because often they are grieving the loss of your love relationship too. More importantly, they may not include a romantic love interest. Instead you are going to be crossing a bridge with a whole group of unexpected travelers -- new friends.

Some of them may be broken and going through a divorce or breakup alongside you. Others may be healers, teachers, and guides helping you find your way across. Some people might become permission friends and help you refine or cultivate new talents. You may notice a new acquaintance might only be around for a couple of months because their role is simply to break you out of the house so as to have fun again.

Your new friends are going to come in the guise of different genders, ages, and beliefs; however, these kindred spirits are all arriving to help you grow and learn to dance behind a "farting camel."

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Abundance Affirmations for Money, Love and Peace

Divorce and Financial Security Prosperity Affirmations Breakup Care Package

After divorce, one of your biggest concerns may be about money. Maybe you have to downsize from a two income lifestyle to one. Maybe you are the primary caretaker of the kids and the mortgage, and you're afraid your ex partner will no longer contribute. Perhaps you gave up your career to become the stay-at-home parent or relocated for your spouse's work and now you are struggling to become a provider.

Whatever your circumstance, divorce is one of those watershed events that triggers a boatload of fear about your future and financial security. Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet to relieve your fear. My suggestion is to use this experience as an opportunity to dig in and work with your fear and see what it's all about.

After my divorce, I spent 30 days working the 10-step process from my free ebook Lemonade Mantras using negative experiences all related to money. This means that every time I felt scared, angry, frustrated, or ashamed about money I transformed my negative thinking into a positive affirmation.

What I discovered is that many times what is lying beneath our fear about money is a larger anxiety about prosperity -- our love, relationships, peace, health, and safety. Below are positive affirmations that came out of my fears about financial security; however, you'll notice many of them don't mention money at all but something much greater.

Positive Affirmations on Money
Value is Divine collaboration.
The soul of money conforms to my love.
Make life meaningful by trading in karma rewards.
Happiness is free income.
Wild profit loosens the reins on my free spirit.
Wealth is the rich silence of an empty mind.
A wealth of hearts will be my riches.
Being happy with people is the real business.
Let the future ride on chance.
Money improvises at play.
Love is a mirror of wealth.

30 Days of Prosperity Affirmations

  1. In love give your partner most what they feel was taken away.
  2. Keep revealing the I and Thou in all things.
  3. Value is Divine collaboration.
  4. Love nests in the crook of my heart.
  5. Soul arrival is like a home coming and going.
  6. Receive demands like humble requests from God.
  7. The soul of money conforms to my love.
  8. Commerce is the sharing of life medicine.
  9. Make life meaningful by trading in karma rewards.
  10. Your silence has my full attention.
  11. Happiness is free income.
  12. Step into big ideas and expand into your universal skin.
  13. You are a sacred sketch on the universal canvas.
  14. The living moment is completely balanced.
  15. Wild profit loosens the reins on my free spirit. 
  16. Wealth is the rich silence of an empty mind. 
  17. A wealth of hearts will be my riches. 
  18. Meandering is a purpose. 
  19. Easy is a blindfold. 
  20. Being happy with people is the real business.
  21. Let the future ride on chance.
  22. Life is an asking and you are an answering.
  23. Money is an underground railroad of love helping you move forward.
  24. Ease is a wave of abundance.
  25. Enlighten your story. 
  26. Happy is my starting and finishing line.
  27. Money improvises at play.
  28. Love grows by moving forward.
  29. Wanting is remembering I am.
  30. Change believes in me.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Breakup or Divorce: The Cosmic Alarm Clock

breakup divorce beth hemmila alarm clock awareness waking up

The way I see it, certain incidents are like cosmic alarm clocks, you know? They jolt us into awareness. "Wake up!' they scream. 'The time is ripe for your job karma to change!" We ignore such moments at our peril.
- Gay Hendricks and Tinker Lindsay, The First Rule of Ten

I read this quote the other day and realized that a breakup or divorce can be a bit like a wake up call. Maybe before the breakup happened you weren't paying too much attention, but if you let it, the loss of a relationship can bring intense focus to your life.

Just like the harsh shrill of an alarm clock going off at 5:00 am, you might feel some discomfort at first, but gradually some of it gets easier. You will have opportunities to make new decisions, change directions, learn different skills, and deepen your understanding of love.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Funhouse

woman mirror breakup relationship love divorce funhouse

We don't see things as they are. We see things as we are.
- Anais Nin

My ex-husband and met because I misunderstood his hand gesture as a wave. I thought he was waving at me, and so I waved back. Starting with this mistaken wave our relationship snowballed like a Comedy of Errors, and I laugh when I remember that the birth of our love burst forth because of the power of my misperception.

In relationships, misperception is incredibly common. It's so hard to see the reality of another, and words will never fully translate what your partner is feeling.

Your partner was your mirror -- a reflection of you -- and your relationships are like walking into the funhouse of your mind. In each love encounter, you dare to step in front of the mirror of YOU. Sometimes you laugh in surprise, shrink in shame, or run away in fear, but all these mirrors are pointing you in one direction -- a path to nowhere, a home that is both an ending and a beginning.

May you meet all these mirrors with a loving heart and good humor so as to embrace the unexpected twists and turns.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

10 Tips for Coping with Depression & Loneliness after a Breakup or Divorce

depression loneliness breakup divorce relationship tips break up love


I am not a licensed therapist or doctor. The information shared in this post is based on my own personal experience of depression. I offer these suggestions as a friend. However, if you feel you are suffering from serious depression, as one soul to another, may you find the courage to ask for help from therapists or doctors so as to alleviate your suffering. Even if you feel you don't have the financial resources or know where to begin, just start asking for help and believe the help you need will come.


In my 20s I suffered from crippling depression. After a long struggle with denial, I found the courage to ask for help from friends, family, therapists, and doctors. I used whatever tools were available to me to heal and come out of the darkest periods of my life. I was lucky enough to receive the best of care, and there isn't one moment I regret from my experience of therapy. I am more loving, alive, and open because of this experience.

Nevertheless, I'm an artist. I'm a sensitive soul. Like other introspective people, I have moods that have come and go. However, thanks to all the healing work I did in my 20s these periodic moments of depression and sadness pass and fade more quickly now.

This list of my top ten ways that I have learned to cope with sadness, depression, grief, and loneliness are not solutions to a problem. They are not methods for healing what is at the root of my depression rather they tools that keep me in the flow of life while I am mending the bit of my soul that may be struggling with loss, shame, or regret.

I have used all these things throughout my life and in particular after having experienced a traumatic breakup of a relationship and most recently during my divorce.

While you are healing from the loss of your precious relationship, may you find a bit of comfort in these things that serve as reminders that you are alive and loved.

Bike or Walk

One of the best assignments a therapist gave me was to go for a bike ride. When you're angry or feeling hurt, emotions can get trapped inside your body. Doing vigorous exercise forces you to breathe deeply and helps release emotions. Biking feels a bit like a novelty so it's also inherently fun. However, if you're not into biking, then walking is something that is easily accessible, can be done anywhere, in all types of weather, and throughout your day. If you feel social, go to the park to be around other people and animals. This type of aerobic exercise naturally raises the level of dopamine in your brain and feelings of contentment.

Practice Gratitude

Thank the stuff in your life that may be triggering your depression. Thank the relationship that didn't go the way you expected. Thank the job that didn't work out and the boss that didn't understand you. Thank the experience of having less money then you wanted at this stage in your life. Thank your kids for creating havoc in your life. Have gratitude for all the uncomfortable things that didn't go the way you wanted and try see that they are there to teach you so much more than what you desired.

Cultivate Comedy

Digest funny movies, TV shows, theater, or books. They don't have to meaningful. Sometimes they can be just slapstick and silly. After my divorce, I watched every season of Wings on Netflix and even though it wasn't the best comedy TV show there was something in the humor and characters that made me laugh and kept me grounded.

Create a Routine

If you are experiencing the kind of depression where you struggle to get out of bed, go to work, keep the house clean, etc. Try creating a simple routine. Commit to three things such as when you will get up in the morning, when you will go to bed, and that you will eat three healthy meals a day.

Eat Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Eating well is truly important when you're going through a rough period in your life. Shopping in the fruit and vegetable aisle is such an uplifting experience. Everything is alive and fresh. The colors and smells are vibrant and engaging. Spend time getting to know the people that work in this section of your grocery store or your local farmers market. I have this secret belief that people who work with fruits and vegetables are generally pretty happy people and have a lot of joy to share.


Go out dancing, find opportunities to take dance classes, or dance at home alone in your pajamas. Whatever feels right for you. Take an opportunity to listen to music and move your body. We are made up of vibrations -- waves of energy -- and the more you dance in your life the more you tune into your natural beauty. Click here to find some suggestions for community dancing.

Seek Beauty

Every day look for something beautiful in your life to admire: a tree, animal, painting, delicious food, face of a friend, or rocks on the beach. Whatever you see, look for its beauty.

Play Games

Laughter and games go together. I'm not talking about gambling where you are trying to win and beat people as a primary objective, but rather seek out games for the pure enjoyment of having fun and being with people: soccer, freezbe golf, tennis, cards, board games, crossword puzzles, etc.

Volunteer Your Time 

Look for an organization where you can volunteer your time helping others. We need each other and we need to feel as if we are able to contribute to the well being of others. Seeing yourself as a helpful part of the whole can keep you engaged in life.

Practice Loving Kindness Meditation or Prayer

Developing compassion for yourself and others is HUGE! Integrating a regular prayer or loving kindness meditation into your daily routine is helpful for getting out of your head and all your troubling thoughts so as to get you focused on the essential things in life. For how to do a loving kind meditation click here.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Inexpensive Divorces: Do It Yourself Divorce Without Lawyers

no lawyer divorce cheap inexpensive uncontested forms do it yourself

YES, a do it yourself divorce minus lawyers is possible in some states!

My husband and I did our own divorce without lawyers, mediation, or a trial. It was cheaper than getting married and the process was over in a couple of weeks. The paperwork is actually not that complicated. So don't let the forms scare you. I remember filling out the forms thinking, "The most complicated thing I have to write down is our names and addresses over and over again." Also, we were able to have our paperwork reviewed by court staff free of charge before it was filed. If anything had been amiss, they would let us know ahead of time so we could correct it.

The first place to inquire is your local county courthouse family law division. If your state allows you to complete and file your own divorce paperwork more than likely family court will also have how-to instructions and offer some kind of review or procedural assistance. They will not offer legal advice.

It's in the best interests of the court to see your divorce settled without going to trial because this costs the government time and money, so more than likely they want to help make it easy and painless.

More importantly, if you start hiring lawyers, realize that they are paid by how much time it takes to perform this service for you. The more time they spend on your divorce, the more money they will accrue. So ask yourself, do you think a lawyer benefits more from you and your spouse being cooperative or uncooperative?

Bottom line the more you and your spouse are able to collaborate on your divorce, the less money you will spend on lawyers and court costs. This leaves more money leftover for caring for your children and rebuilding your life after divorce.

To see what dissolution of marriage forms might look like, download the online forms for Oregon by clicking here. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the packet that applies to you.

Before you proceed with a do it yourself (DIY) divorce consider your situation by asking yourself these questions:

  1. Are you and your spouse in agreement regarding division of property, custody issues, and financial support?
  2. Do you have all the information regarding your family's assets and debts? Are these issues simple?
  3. Are you emotionally comfortable with negotiating custody issues with your spouse?
  4. Do you have the time to do adequate research on divorce in your state?
  5. Do you have the personality that can fill out forms and make sure all the details are covered?
  6. Do you have the temperament that will allow you to work through the paperwork with your spouse during a very emotional time?
  7. Do you understand the tax implications of a divorce?
  8. Do you or your spouse have a lot of unresolved anger that could lead to deceptive behavior (e.g., hiding assets, manipulating the kids, etc.)?

A DIY divorce is a good option if you and your spouse are able to cooperate, you have the time to understand the legal process, and your financial and custody issues are fairly simple. If this doesn't sound like your situation, you're probably better off finding a lawyer and looking into mediation.