Festivus for the ex of us

Happy Festivus, everyone! Today is the day Seinfeld followers honor with traditions including the Festivus pole, Feats of Strength and the Airing of Grievances.

What a great opportunity to send a back-handed holiday greeting to my ex, right?!

It would be easy to be bitter and place blame when you come out of a relationship like mine. In fact, I’ve spent much too much energy on these very behaviors. And I know damned well how unproductive that is!

Most of the time, I try to be conscious about the energy I’m putting out in the world, my language and my general outlook on life. I believe what we put out affects what we get back. (There are some excellent books on this topic by Michael Losier and John Assaraf, among others.) So I try to stay positive, express my gratitude and always view my cup as overflowing.

This can be difficult when, throughout most of my relationship, I was the primary or only breadwinner. I earn a healthy living. Nothing spectacular, but I’m able pay the mortgage, buy groceries and take my family on an occasional vacation. The designer clothes and handbags of my days as a single are no more, and my car has celebrated its 15th birthday. Still, I recognize that I am blessed. This is kind of a big thing for me…

You see, there have been times in my life when my outlook was not so bright, when I was incapable of feeling genuine happiness for a friend who met a great new guy, got engaged, had a baby or got a fabulous new job. I was jealous of those I perceived as having more or better. These were things that I wanted! Why weren’t they happening to me? Probably because I was focusing on the lack.

Going through a divorce, turning forty…I’ve felt a lot of lack these past many months, along with a powerful urge to place blame. It was easy to believe that I drove an old car and lived in a house with some urgent repairs needed and skimped on my wardrobe because my ex wasn’t contributing enough financially. I thought that if he loved me enough, he would work harder to help provide the things that were important to me and our family. But neither this belief nor my resentment has produced positive results.

For my birthday, a friend took me to a Michael Franti & Spearhead concert. If you’ve never been to one of these shows, I recommend it:  it’s as much a spiritual experience as it is an opportunity to see a pretty cool live show. The band and the fans are happy, smiling and joyful. Everyone is dancing and waving their arms. I imagine it’s something like a revival.

There I was at the show, jumping up and down, smiling so hard that my face hurt, as Michael sung these lyrics:  “Wise men count their blessings; fools count their problems…” I had an ah-ha moment, quickly recognizing that I was being a fool, counting my problems.

So now I’m focused on counting my blessings; I’m monitoring my thoughts, my words and the people with whom I choose to surround myself; I’m working to be conscious and deliberate about the energy I allow in my life. I’m noticing when good things happen, even small things, and I’m writing them down in a gratitude journal.

And I’m not indulging the ugly little urge to be petty. Today it felt good to send my ex a Festivus greeting with a positive wish for the future. I left out the long list of grievances altogether.

And, in case you were wondering, the very next line in that Michael Franti song is “…but you’re both of them to me.” How apropos!

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