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Caution: Divorced Woman with a Bucket List

Caution: Divorced Woman with a Bucket List

I visited a tattoo salon the other day. It was filled with college kids, men with tattooed “sleeves”, young women with nose rings; oh, and a few middle-aged moms.

It’s Time

The thing is, it makes sense now. All of those women doing crazy things when they hit a certain age. Especially, the divorced ones. It used to seem there was something wrong with them. They were unstable.

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Perhaps they are a bit unstable. Aren’t we all? And, maybe, that’s what this is all about. Who knows? But, what is certain is that at some point it just seems the right thing to do. It’s time to do all of those things you always wanted to, but never thought you actually would. All of the things husbands, parents, kids, or whomever may have talked you out of.

There is something incredibly freeing about doing something that you know others might not support. It’s a bit like a teenager who finally turns 18 and believes he or she all of the independence in the world. They ‘experiment’ with things you always hoped they wouldn’t, but knew they eventually would. They get their nose pierced, drink liquors, or get a tattoo.

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That is what it feels like to be a middle-aged, divorced woman. A bit anyway. Like being a kid whose parents aren’t watching so closely anymore. Of course, there is always someone watching―kids, a boss, friends―but there’s definitely a lot more freedom and independence. It’s not always a comfortable feeling, but it can be thrilling. Take advantage of it. It’s time to start dreaming again.

Live Life

You might get a tattoo. You might swim with sharks or jump out of an airplane. Or, you might decide to move to a beach somewhere. Whatever it is, it’s about more than just being in a ‘phase’ or having a midlife crisis. It’s about living life to the fullest. Trying things just so you know what they are like. It’s a way of being able to say, “Oh yeah, I get it. I’ve done that.”

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It’s a way of relating to other people.

It’s time to look back on your life and realize all that you have already done. Trips you took as a kid to the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls. Visits to museums and Halls of Fame. Lessons on the piano, snow skiing or to learn how to bake. You’ve done things. Most likely, lots of things. But, what’s left? What more do you want to do?

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Life is about experiences. It’s easy to sit back as a middle-aged, divorcee and feel “oh, woe is me”. It’s a lot more exciting to start taking advantage of all life has to offer at a time when there’s little holding you back.

Make the List and Get Going

So, start making the list and, more importantly, start checking off the items on it. There really is no limit to what you might choose to do. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. African Safari
  2. Mission or Disaster Relief Trip
  3. Play Paintball
  4. Write a Book
  5. Swim with Sharks
  6. Be an Extra in a Movie or TV Show
  7. Fall in Love Again
  8. Go Skydiving
  9. Get a Tattoo
  10. Climb a Mountain
  11. Visit Europe
  12. Learn to Play Guitar
  13. Drive Across Country
  14. Go Scuba Diving
  15. Sail the Caribbean
  16. Walk Along the Great Wall of China
  17. Fly to Paris for the Weekend
  18. Spend a Weekend in Las Vegas
  19. Spend a Day in Bed
  20. Get a Puppy

There’s really no end to the possibilities. It’s all a matter of deciding what you want to do. Cross an item off, and add another. Edit the list as you go. If you’re lucky, you might even find someone to share in the adventures with you.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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