10

The ten year challenge has been super popular on social media lately. I am not normally one to jump on one of these challenges, but this time? For sure.
I took time to reflect on all the has changed over the past 10 years…..and there is a LOT! Here’s a list in not specific order:
– 4 kids graduated from high school.
– I got divorced (that alone took YEARS to accomplish and years off my life!)
– represented myself Pro Se in court several times
– I moved 2 different times, downsizing each time!
– bought and sold 3 cars of my own (one of my proudest moments was negotiating these deals on my own)
– wrote and published a book
– started, and currently run, 3 different businesses
– ran 9 marathons and countless other races from 5K’s to half marathons
– said goodbye to 2 dogs and hello to another
– survived a pandemic (and am still playing Frogger with the virus!)
– got my CCL (and have since requalified and renewed it!)
– got certified as a coach in several different areas
– created a support system of women who have surrounded me with love, guided me with wisdom and blessed me with friendship
– gained financial control and independence
– created a peaceful home and space where people enjoy spending time
– developed deeper, more authentic relationships with all 5 of my children
– found my own center of gravity, my heart and my soul

There are so many other things to add to the list but these are the biggest changes of which I am most proud. So much can happen in the span of a single year and even more in the span of ten years. When I look at the calendar, a decade does not seem long. But when I look at myself, I realize how long it has been and how far I have come. I cannot change the events which occurred in the last 10 years of my life but I can look back at all the lessons learned that have made me the woman I am today. If someone would have told that overwhelmed, trapped, woman who had lost herself that the next 10 years would lead to the biggest and most dramatic transformation of her life…..she would never have believed it.
I lost a great deal over the past 10 years but one thing that never got lost was my hope and my faith. My hope and faith in a higher power, as well as faith that there was a plan for my life have guided my every step so for in my life. I may not always understand that plan nor like it at times, but I trust and believe that the universe has my back.
The next 10 years have 120 months and over 3650 days. I intend to make every single one count.
Peace
#tutulady
#forwardisapace


Four

Photo from outside the courthouse August 9, 2017

Four years ago, at 4:19pm my high conflict, 748 day divorce battle was officially finalized by the judge.
Happy 4th Divorcery to ME!
Each year on this day, I celebrate the end of my over 20 year marriage and beginning of my new life. If someone had told me on that day in 2017 how much would change in my life, I would never have believed them. I actually laughed that day and thought that freedom just felt good enough for me.
Over the course of our 20 year marriage, my wasband was unfaithful numerous times and I always looked the other way. I knew it would never last long, and truth be told, I was focused on my kids and did not have the time or energy to deal with his nonsense.
I have told my story many times now and continue to tell it as to educate and empower others. Earlier in the week I wrote a post about an event in August of 2014 that put things in motion. He yelled at me in public. He was comfortable enough and empowered enough to demean me in public…..and that was pivotal. I spent the following month questioning everything.
October of 2014 was our 20 year anniversary and we went to dinner (his favorite place not mine) and midway through dinner, several of his buddies joined us. Yes, I was celebrating my anniversary …3 men and me!
As the days and weeks progressed, I started asking more questions about money, bills, and changes on credit cards. I started asking questions about work hours and over time. I started looking for proof that the cheating was not in my head this time….that I was not “crazy” (as he called me over and over)
Christmas that year lead to physical battles over checkbooks, bills and cashflow. I was not allowed to have access to the checking account because I was “bad with money” and given an allowance even though I was a full time working professional.
Spring brought more bills, more utility disconnections, more unexplained (lies) charges and more fighting. I continued to compile evidence.
May of 2015 was D-Day. I confronted him which led to a huge fight. I moved his things down to the ‘extra’ bedroom. We lived in a war zone for weeks until I went away for a few days with the kids. When I got back he had taken several plastic tubs of clothing and left.
July 23, 2015, I filed for divorce and he was served.
748 days later, our divorce was final.
1,461 days later, I am free.
The past 4 years have not been easy. I have done a lot of work on myself and made a great deal of changes in my life. I have given up on worrying about other people’s expectations of me. I have given up carrying baggage that is not mine to carry or is just too damn heavy for me to carry alone. I have given up the feelings of shame and failure that often accompany being divorced. I have given up the anger that I was not enough. I have given up the sadness that I wasted years of my life. I have given up regrets.
I am slowly reclaiming parts of the woman I once was and rebuilding my life. I am creating new and better relationships with each of my children as well as my friends. I am finding new things I love about teaching and returning to my roots in education. I am realizing that I have gifts and talents that need exploration. I am constantly being reminded by those that love me that I am worth my own time, effort and love. That I am worthy, I matter and not to devalue myself.
I was asked recently if I would date/love again. The answer is complicated. It is not a simple yes or no. I am in love with my life (even the shitty, difficult, uncomfortable parts) and enjoy my own company. I would love to share my life with someone, however, that person would have to add value and not complicate the life I have and am creating for myself. That is a tall order but I believe that person is out there. I have not given up on love!
Each day of this new life is a gift and I do not take even one minute for granted. I try to live it all to the fullest. I take chances and make mistakes. I learn from my mistakes and move forward…one step at a time. This 4 year Divorcery is one of the best yet! I continue to grow and make progress! Each day brings more joy, more love, more happiness!
So today, just like each year on this day, I remember the courage it took to free myself. I remember how hard I fought to save my family. I remember how hard I fought to save myself and create a better life for my children. I remember the mistakes I made and all the lessons I learned in the process. Instead of focusing on the pain, I find comfort in the good times and growth. I know, deep in my soul, that I am stronger and capable of so much more than I ever imagined. I am moving forward, focused on the future.
If I can do it, anyone can! I am here to inspire, assist and support you in any way possible!
I am courageous. I am brave. I am empowered. I am free.
And you can be too!
Peace
#tutulady
#forwardisapace

Award

6 years ago I attended a benefit event at the Drake Hotel for Girls on the Run. I would be presented with the Superstar Award for Outstanding Coach at the event. What I did not know is that it would be a night that would change my life forever….just as Girls on the Run has changed the lives of countless girls.
Several weeks prior I had bought a dress on sale. The dress was a total splurge….even on sale for $30! At that time, I never bought things for myself much less a fancy dress! I was not allowed to spend money of “frivolous” things. I felt so good in that dress, so beautiful and powerful. That dress still hangs in my closet waiting to be worn again.
I did my own hair and then my daughter and I drove into the city to Barney’s to visit one of my best friends. My friend is a makeup artist and had never done my makeup before, heck, I had never had anyone do my makeup before! When she was finished, I felt so beautiful!
She also did makeup for my 16 year old daughter, who was my date for the evening. My daughter, who was my first girl on the run and the reason I started coaching the program. My daughter who deserved a fancy night out with her momma.
We arrived at the Drake greeted by valet parking and cocktail hour. I felt so special….and out of place.
I felt like I didn’t belong. I was instantly transported back to the grade school girl who never fit in and was always teased. The girl in high school that struggled with her looks and never felt like an “insider.” The college girl that drank to forget feeling left out.
I took a deep breath and, like a gut punch, it hit me. I was everything I was teaching girls NOT to be…….. I was a woman married to an unfaithful, abusive man.
I went to the bathroom to catch my breath and fix my makeup. I put on my new lipstick, plastered a smile on my face and headed in the the event to join my daughter. I was going to make the best of this night, celebrate Girls on the Run and this accomplishment.
During the day and into the evening, my wasband was texting me. He anger and jealousy was palpable. I was not “effectively managing” my children by going out for the evening, leaving my oldest daughter (18 at the time)in charge. He had been invited but had refused to take the night off work. Seeing me get an award was just too much for him to handle. And, looking back, I am so grateful he was not there.
My daughter and I had a wonderful dinner and I was able to teach her how a live auction works! She tried mightily to get me to bid on things that were well out of our price range but a girl can dream, right?!
After the auction, it was time for the presentation of awards. When my name was called, I walked to the stage, feeling weak in the knees. I straightened my spine, smiled, and stepped up to accept the award, graciously thanking the presenter. As I walked back to my seat I made a decision. It was a decision that would change the course of my future and the future of my children. I made a choice to be done.
I wanted out but didn’t know how to get out. I wanted to leave my marriage but didn’t know how or when it would happen. I was sad and lonely and in pain. I really was done.
I wanted to find a way out and that night showed me that I needed to find a way. I could not preach self love and empowerment to others all while living a lie of abuse and self hate.
I went through the motions in my marriage for a few more months. Soon enough, the lie I was living exploded. I mustered the courage to confront my wasband. I asked him to make a choice….our family and marriage or his “other life.” He wanted both. I knew that would never work so after a few weeks, I secretly met with a lawyer and filed for divorce.
Don’t get me wrong, I did the “pick me” dance for weeks, begging him to give us a second chance. I waited up all night for him to come home night after night only for him to ignore me or fight with me when he finally arrived. His contempt and indifference was something I will never forget. He taunted me repeatedly with, “I will never agree to a divorce…”, “You will never go through with it….you don’t have the guts….”, “Shut up! You will wake the kids….” and “Think about others would you?! She has small kids! Keep your mouth shut….” Over and over…..night after night….until he was served.
For years, every week I taught my Girls on the Run teams lessons in empowerment and self-esteem. What I failed to realize was that I was the one that needed those messages. I was the one that needed to learn to love myself and have confidence in myself. I needed to find the woman I had stuffed down deep inside me. I needed to be my own outstanding coach.
We never know what will turn the tide in our life. We never know when we will be faced with a moment of truth. We never know what moment will be the defining tipping point. However, when that moment does arrive, we need to be brave enough to face an uncertain future and be prepared to ride the waves of change. We have it in us! We just need to dig deep and find it!
We need to be our own SuperStar…..Our Own Outstanding Coach!
Peace
#tutulady
#forwardisapace

Different

Six years ago I made a choice to no longer accept infidelity, abuse and disrespect in my marriage of over 20 years. I was terrified to leave and even more scared to stay.
Over the past 6 years, I have gotten divorced, lost a home, a job, my self respect and had my kids walk away from me…. BUT…..I have also gained 2 increasingly better jobs, 2 increasingly better homes, 2 increasingly newer cars, became an author and regained the respect and return of my kids.
I have realized that I missed the person I used to be before I got married. When I got married, I left behind goals, dreams and parts of myself. I am regaining the strong independant woman I used to be. This time around, she is sooo much better because she is seasoned with life experience. The woman I am now is smarter, stronger, more determined and more focused than ever before.
Did all that happen overnight? No. It took time and work, along with professional help. I have made a lot of mistakes in the process, which is why I chose to become not only a life coach, but also a divorce coach. I want others to find themselves, to see and plan for the bright future the awaits as well as avoid the mistakes and missteps that I made along the way.
There are still days I get down and anxiety takes over and that is ok….I do not stay in that place for long. I am moving forward…and you can too! One foot in front of the other. One day…one step…one breath at a time.
If you need help or just a place to vent, reach out! I am here whenever you are ready!
Forward is a pace!
Peace,
#tutulady
#forwardisapace

Healing

Healing is not linear. It is a process. People would love for you to move on NOW. Why? It makes life easier for THEM. Healing from pain and trauma is not about THEM….it is about YOU.
Coping with trauma takes many different shapes and forms. Some people stuff it down and bury it. Some people choose to smother it with addictive behaviors like alcohol/drugs/food/gambling/etc. Some put on the mask of happiness telling all ask that they are “fine.” The problem with those and other unhealthy responses is that they are just that….unhealthy. The trauma is always still there, just under the surface, waiting to rear its ugly head at an inopportune time. Moving on is not fast nor easy and those that tell you it is are lying.
Time does not heal old wounds. Healing takes work and dealing with trauma is work. Offering ourselves the same grace we give to others is not easy. It is difficult learning to create and hold boundaries. It is emotionally exhausting to do the painful work of growth, self improvement and self love. Grieving the loss of dreams of the future is often overwhelming. Processing all the emotions can debilitating. Sounds like a super fun party, right?! Not really, but the time invested in healing from trauma is worth all the pain, making us stronger and healthier humans.
One vital part of healing is sharing our story. Sharing our story, is not only empowering to us but also to others. Giving a voice to our experience validates our pain, our process and our healing. Sharing our story helps others in similar situations. It allows others who may feel alone in their trauma and pain to find a safe space of validation. How we share our story is ours to decide.
Not everyone will understand your process or have the patience to endure the time involved with your healing. Some will be critical of the choices you make in your healing process. Some will listen, leaning in, offering a place of grace sitting with you in your process. Some will love you through it all without judgement. People’s opinion of you, your choices and your process is …well….none of your business. You are on a healing journey from victim to victor, from survivor to thriver. You are in charge of your future and you decide who is a part of that future. This part of your life’s journey is invitation only. Choose wisely.
Peace
#tutulady
#forwardisapace