Are You TRULY Happy?

happy-clouds
I was nursing my 13 month old son the other day. It was one of those really busy days – I’d just finished being interviewed for an up-coming tele-summit, there was a lot to do around the house, my husband had important deadlines to meet and needed my support with some things, and it was only 11am still… you know…THAT kind of day?
As I sat feeding my little guy, I stared into his eyes, he stared back into mine. It was a loving exchange of energy. I suddenly became aware of the amazing fact that here I am, amidst this (busy, full) life, with a new son after having 3 older children. And I reflected on the past where I didn’t think that I’d have any more children; simply given my circumstances at that time. And in that reflective moment with that sudden awareness, I had a profoundly euphoric feeling come through me. And then I had a wonder, “is THIS true happiness?”
How often do we talk about things like “I want to be happy (or happier)” or “I’ll be happy when ‘x’ happens in my life,” or “I’m not happy with how ‘x’ is going in my life,” etc. Happiness is an often spoken-of concept, but what does it really mean? And, how does one actually get happy?
I know there are a lot of books on this topic. And, I’m sure if you are reading this piece right now, you are the kind of person who has likely read at least one of those books, or been to courses or seminars that touch on the idea of creating happiness in your life. I’ve woman-eyes-closed-smilingpersonally LED those seminars! Those books and seminars will often espouse things like, “Happiness doesn’t only come with external things. We can cause it from within ourselves.”
But, as much as I KNOW that, I have to say, I feel like I’m an ongoing student of happiness. There’s always something new to discover about the idea of “being happy” – but REALLY happy.
I am sharing this wonder and thought with you today.
I invite you to join me in being a student of happiness in your own life.
What does that mean? Well, as you go about your regular, normal, busy, etc. day-to-day life, play the game of discovering moments of happiness. It may come with being grateful for something or someone. Or, it may come with appreciating and acknowledging an accomplishment of your own – big or small. And really let yourself connect to the feeling that comes with that gratitude or acknowledgement.
Explore. Wonder. Get present.
See what your access might be.
I’d love to hear from you: are you taking this on? And, what are you discovering?
smiling-baby
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When is the Right Time For a New Relationship After Ending an Old One?

Couple on Date

If anyone thinks they have the one right answer to this question, I would be hesitant to take their advice.

Ending a relationship or a marriage is a tough decision to make and is often very difficult and painful to get over.

In my profession I have worked with many people in this situation, plus I have my own experience to pull from regarding the ending and healing from a past relationship or marriage.

What I’ve also come to discover is how the relationship journey can and does continue, post-breakup or divorce. It is possible to move on, and it is possible to meet the person you can create a life with and be happy.

I am often asked: “How do I know if it’s time to get into a new relationship?” or “I am afraid to get into a new relationship that might go the way my last one did. How do I prevent that?”

Well, here are some important things to consider when answering these questions for yourself:

  1. Are you blaming your last partner for any aspect of why the relationship didn’t work? If your answer is even a slight “yes” this is a sign you have some things to still learn and grow from regarding your last relationship. That includes, how and why you picked that person in the first place? Was it to fulfill some need or void you didn’t think you have in yourself to fulfill? Or, was it because you simply didn’t want to be alone? Sometimes the answers to these questions are far beneath the surface and it isn’t easy to see right away. But when you start to ‘own’ the relationship, for all that worked and all that didn’t work, then you can start to move on independent from that relationship.
  2. Are you “OK” with yourself? It is important to be able to be with yourself – the truth is you’re the one with who you’re in the longest lasting relationship. Often when one avoids being with themselves, it’s a sign that you have some internal relationship building to do. What does that mean? It could mean exploring and understanding what is really important to you, what are your core values, and how are you or can you express those values through what you do, either for work/career, or hobbies, or through social interactions, etc. Often times in relationships people either don’t have that sense of them self and they use the relationship to fill that void, or they had that sense of themselves and have either forgotten or actively given it up in order to accommodate the relationship. This can lead to resentment and suffering. Either way, being OK with who you are and what your values are is an important place to be when you get into a new relationship.
  3. Do you know what you want? The truth is most people don’t know what they actually want. At best, they know what they don’t want. I have found that people don’t spend the time to explore, investigate and speculate on what they really want for their life. This can leave people reacting to circumstances and falling into situations, like relationships, rather than creating a life that is an expression of what they actually want. Give yourself the gift of that exploration. You deserve it and so does your future partner, who will also benefit from you having done that work. They don’t want to be your “next victim” of being your “wrong pick,” when for them you might be their “right pick.” This exploration doesn’t have to take too long , which can make it harder to put yourself out there, but you do want to afford yourself whatever time it takes.

 If you or someone you know is facing these types of questions and you want a place to do some exploring, please contact me for a COMPLIMENTARY SESSION to begin that journey.

Also, KEEP YOUR EYE OUT for an upcoming invitation from me to a FREE WEBINAR COMING SOON hosted by a good friend and colleague of mine on the topic of How To Date To Marry and not waste your time on anything else.

Who Gets The Kids For The Holidays?

Easter

With Easter, Orthodox Easter and Passover Holidays coming, it can be stressful enough as it is for any family. Who is hosting which dinner, lunch or brunch? Who to invite? Which invitations to accept, without offending others?

Add to this mix being separated or divorced and needing to decide “Who gets the kids?”

For many separated parents, that decision is made through the Parenting Plan or Separation Agreement process. Some parents figure it out on a per-holiday basis.

And even when there seems to be a decision made, it isn’t always easy for the other parent not to be with their child or children, when it’s not “their turn.”

Here are some ideas to consider that have worked for me and for clients I have supported:

  1. Alternate year agreement. One way to alternate years is to say, “Parent A gets the children for Easter/Passover (etc) on the odd-numbered years, while Parent B gets the children on the even-numbered years” Usually this will be written up in an agreement, (which helps to remember from year-to-year).
  2. Holidays with the Parent who the child doesn’t live with. Sometimes children live with one parent (possibly in a different city) full time. In such a case it can work to have the child spend the holiday period with the other parent. Depending on the relationship and willingness between the parents, the parent living away from the child may travel in and spend the holiday with their child together with the other parent.
  3. Holidays All Together. Depending on the willingness of the parents, it may work to have the holidays be a time to spend together. It’s not about the parents “being together.” It’s about the children having a meaningful and memorable holiday. I have had the privilege of my own parents rising above their past differences to be at the same holiday table with me and my family.
  4. Multi-Ethnic Family. You may be in a formerly mixed marriage situation, which means you don’t share the same holidays. This can work out well when the holidays don’t land on the same dates! What happens when they DO land on the same dates? Either you could apply the “alternate year” approach where by one parent gets them this year and next time a holiday lands on the same date, the other parent gets the kids. Or, there may be room to compromise by splitting the day or days themselves. For example, this year the first two days of Passover coincides with Catholic/Christian Easter Weekend. Kids could be with the Jewish parent Friday and Saturday and with the Christian or Catholic parent on Sunday and Monday.

Passover SederThese are just some scenarios and some ideas. You may have others.

And, the key is to make the decision and then stick to it, ideally letting go of any resentments and upsets when you’re the one not with the kids. This part is not always easy, but it is certainly possible.

Try to bring the spirit of what the holiday is, to your attitude and to your interactions with your former spouse.

I wish you blessings for the holidays, whatever you should be celebrating at this time of year.

If you are stuck regarding holiday decisions, or any other decisions related to separation or divorce matters or family-life matters, set up a COMPLEMENTARY STRATEGY SESSION with me and let’s get it sorted out.

Email me at tallie@familyforeverlifestyle.com

Are You Going To Be A Post-Valentine’s Day Statistic?

Broken Heart with BandageResearch has shown that many break-ups, relationships and marriages, happen just after Valentine’s Day. In fact, lawyers have said they have had their phone ring on February 15th with people inquiring about divorce, more than on any other day of the year.

Why is this?

Often times these break ups are a reaction to frustration due to expectations not being met, over time. Until finally the expectant party gets fed up and calls it quits. This can tend to happen after one might have given it a chance to see what happens on Valentine’s Day. And if, once again, the other partner does not measure up to one’s expectation, that’s the breaking point.

How can you avoid this or other ‘reactive break ups’?

Whether you’re the one who is fed up or the one not meeting the other’s expectation (or both!), there is something you can do to make a clear and healthy choice:

  1. Re-examine your relationship from a place of commitment. If you are truly committed to having your relationship work, although simply committing doesn’t guarantee it will work, you have a much higher chance of it working when you stay true to your commitment.
  1. Ask yourself, “What expectations have I had of my partner (and/or myself, or/or of the relationship) that have not been met? Make a list of these expectations and be truthful – let it all out.
  1. Then ask yourself, “Are these expectations realistic?” Sometimes we have such high standards about ourselves or our partners that, upon new examination, are really fantasy-like or in the realm of “perfection” of the kind that is only in the movies. What’s most common is to expect our partner to change some attribute of their personality or how they do things…”and THEN things will be different.”
  1. Next, ask yourself, “can I accept the way my partner is?” Really look to see if you are willing to live with, with full acceptance, of the way your partner is, without expecting them to change, in order for you to be happy or in order for the relationship to work.
  1. Finally, make an authentic choice. If you are not willing to accept the way your partner is now, without expecting them to change in the future, be honest with yourself and with them and say so. But remember, that is your choice that you are making based on what you are willing or not willing to accept. As opposed to, “I’m not willing to accept this because you won’t change.” You will never have personal power when the other person is to blame for your choice.

If you are willing to accept your partner as they are, with no expectation for them to one day change, then make that choice. And then, it’s time to do the work to learn to truly be with one another, as you are. It is only then that you can potentially grow and learn, together.

I wish you clarity and confidence.

And, if you feel stuck, or you know someone who might be stuck, please respond and request a complementary Strategy Session with me.

You’re not alone.

When Are Kids Ready To Know?

I am often asked by clients or other parent-friends, “My son/daughter asked me “X” the other day. How do I know when it’s right to talk to my kids about [sensitive topics]? And, what should I say?”
This is a common concern for any parent, or, frankly, any adult with children or teens in their lives who they are close with. Here are a few things to think about, in order to find your right response:Parents Talking To Kid
When they ask, they are ready.
Sounds simple. And it is…somewhat. If a child or teenager has had the wherewithal to think about a particular matter, have a concern or question arise about that matter, and they have the courage to come out and ask about it, that tells me that they have readiness to get some answers.
Acknowledge your relationship.
It also tells me that there is some level of close relationship between you and that child, which provides enough comfort for him or her to be able to come to you. That is worth acknowledging, at the very least to yourself, that something you’ve done or some way you have been has allowed for this openness.
They want the truth.
Given that they are ready and you have the basis of the relationship you seem to have, respond with honesty. No matter how old we are, we want the truth. This honours your relationship, while honouring each of you. Honesty also provides added confidence for that young person to know that they can come to you again in the future and trust they’ll get the truth. In addition, this confidence transcends your relationship and can contribute to that young person’s personal strength in life, as well as their relationships going forward.
You get to choose what you say or not.
While you want to be honest, you also are the adult and want to bring discretion to what you share or what you don’t share. You don’t need to give unnecessary details. And, you also don’t need to share any information that could make another person look bad.
Make it safe for them to emote and react.
Depending on the topic at hand, the child may react with some emotion. They might be sad and they might cry. They might be upset or angry, and either withdraw or stomp away or let you have a piece of their mind. They may be calm, silent, or say little. Every person (including you and me) has a way of processing new information and reacting physically or emotionally. The key here is that whatever the reaction, it usually has a particular ‘life span’. In other words, it passes. If you and I let them express safely, usually it comes up, gets out, and clears away. If you and I react to their reaction, we add ‘weight’ to the emotion, keeping it around longer than it typically needs to be.
I encourage you to consider these things and incorporate them into your own value system as you see appropriate. I wish you the best with your commitments for peaceful and loving relationships.

We Divorced But Remained A Family!

Big Family Pic
I want to share something personal and meaningful with you…
Last Sunday was my daughter’s 6th birthday party. She just started a new school this year in the new neighbourhood we just moved to. To support her social acclimatization, we invited her whole class. We also invited a group of friends from her previous daycare and our old neighbourhood, in order to keep those connections alive, as well as other family and friends.
Who was there? 10 classmates, 5 daycare friends, 1 family friend, and…my first husband’s son from his new wife and our 2 grown sons.
Who organized the party? My daughter’s father, his wife and myself.
Many people have asked me, “How is it possible to truly have peace during and after divorce? And, for the whole family?”
The answer to that question has become my personal life mission – making THAT possibility a reality for other families.
The first answer is – in both my separations we dealt with our relationship breakdowns separate from our bigger commitment for our children’s success and well-being. Through many conversations (not always easy ones) we reached a conclusion that just because our relationship was not going to stay intact in a marital context, that didn’t mean that we couldn’t still have a ‘family context’ in which to raise our children.
With both of our intentions and attentions aligned on that bigger picture of “Family” we were able to design a family life that looks different than how we had originally imagined it when we first got married yet in a way that we were inspired by.
And, the second answer is – keep true to that bigger picture through maintaining our values, no matter what issues arise.
What does that mean? Well, you have values, right? For me, some of my values are family, open communication and our children being nurtured and fulfilled. When things get difficult, as life often does, it is easy for emotions to interfere and get in the way. And then we don’t behave in a way that we are so proud of. It is in those moments that our values are the most critical.
For example, I remember shortly after my first separation when my sons came home after a weekend with their dad. As they shared about their weekend a particular woman’s name was mentioned several times. So I asked, “Who is that?” “Oh, that is Dad’s friend.” I took a quick and very deep breath, and on the exhale let go of my annoyance and frustration with their Dad. (!!!) And, without changing my tone of voice or body language I completed the chat with my sons.
I later phoned my ex-husband and calmly shared about the situation, just as it happened without any judgement, and asked, “Can you and I talk first about new people we are bringing into our lives before introducing them to the children?”
Now, if it was my “annoyance and frustration” speaking? I don’t think that conversation would have gone very well.
But with my Values speaking? So much more pleasant! I could simply tell him what happened and ask for what I think is in our and our children’s best interest. Nobody is made guilty or to blame. Rather we are communicating with the purpose of realizing the bigger picture we said we want. And, we did come to an agreement to talk first before introducing the kids to new “friends.”
All of this takes practice. Yes, like anything important to us, we need to practice and sometimes not be successful but keep on practicing.
This past Sunday my daughter’s party was a result of years of this kind of practice.
Having my first husband, his wife, our 2 sons and their son…plus my daughter’s father and step mother…and not-to-mention, my beloved fiancé (this is a beautiful story for another time), all in one room together, laughing, talking and enjoying the party, makes all the years of practice SO worth it – for everyone.