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Lessons from Yoga: Are You the Carrot, Egg or Coffee Bean in Your Divorce?

One of the many aspects of yoga that I love is the life and spiritual lessons that the teachers will weave into class at just the right moment. It often feels like an act of Divine intervention when certain stories and quotes prove to be timed perfectly, right just when I need them and so relevant to the current events of my life.

I remember one particular time where I was absolutely beaten down by what life continued to throw my way. I was overwhelmed by everything happening, and beyond disheartened because I try so hard to be a good person and do the right thing and the universe seemed to be ignoring that. Instead of having good things come back to me, as Karma would predict, I felt as though punches were being thrown at me at every turn. It was especially painful when the instigators of those punches were from people who I tried so hard to do right by.

The way I lived the last few years as my marriage was ending until this point should have earned me serious Karma points. I acted with integrity and grace while trying to exit my marriage (for the most part!), and I gave until I bled through the divorce process to keep it amicable. I’ve done my very best as a mother to help my children through the after-effects of divorce and to be emotionally well-adjusted. I work hard in my chosen business that was created to serve others during a difficult time in their lives. I look for the lessons hidden in the downturns of life instead of wallowing in the negativity. I’m there for my friends, give money to the homeless person on the corner, and lend a helping hand when needed. I return shopping carts from the parking lot and recycle. And thus, I should be getting some good juju back, right?

Wrong.

I had found myself in a perfect storm, where every core area in my life was blowing up at once. My daughter went through a major setback, I learned that my kids’ dad was building a house in my community with his soon-to-be wife, the on-again-off-again romantic relationship I had been in came to an end, a major family drama ensued, and then add a house repair fiasco on top of that. This all happened within a few short weeks, leaving me in a place where I could deal with no more.

Somehow I gained enough strength to find my way to the yoga studio, and that day, I heard exactly what I needed to.

The yoga instructor weaved the story of The Carrot, The Egg and The Coffee Bean by Pritesh Kalantri throughout the practice. The entire story is posted on our FaceBook page, so check it out (please note you may need to search for Pritesh Kalantri). It’s a great read! She would only give little pieces of the story at a time, which provided a good amount of time to process the story and who I wanted to be.

The story begins with a daughter telling her mother about all of the life challenges that have her so beaten down she just doesn’t know what to do anymore. Her mother put three pots of water on the stove to boil and placed carrots in the first, eggs in the second, and coffee beans in the remaining pot. After the items had a chance to swirl around in the boiling water for a bit, her mother asked her to look at each pot to determine what she saw. Each item had faced the same adversity, but came through it differently.

The carrot went into the water hard and strong, but came out weak. The eggs were fragile with a fluid center, but became hardened after being subjected to the boiling water. The coffee beans were different though, as they changed the water.

Through this practice, I had the opportunity to ponder who I wanted to be through this downturn in my life. Was I the carrot who was strong, but allowed the adversity to steal my strength? Was I the egg, with the soft heart that became hardened and bitter? I knew I didn’t want either of those options. I had experienced both before, and I was not interested in going there again.

She further explained the experience of the boiling coffee bean. When things are tough, do you want to change the situation around you? When life throws you the most hurtful punches, will you elevate to persevere through the challenges and emerge a better version of yourself on the other side?

In that moment, I chose to be the coffee bean. I’ve been the carrot and the egg at many times during my life, and certainly through the time period leading up to my divorce. Since that time, I have worked to be the coffee bean. At this point though, I’d been knocked down just enough to revert back to my old patterns.

So, I encourage you to ask yourself as you are in this phase of contemplating divorce or well into the process — who are you going to be? How do you want to handle the challenges that will be thrown at you in a potentially unrelenting way?

The coffee bean is a good analogy for what we have aspired to create with Untangle The Knot. We are giving you the divorce resources and all-around support — mind, body and spirit — to help you change your environment, create something wonderful from adversity and emerge on the other side a richer person who is now fully in the process of becoming who they are meant to be.

Please check out the Untangle The Knot Divorce Resources and discover how we can help you be the coffee bean! Have you found anything to inspire you to be the coffee bean during your divorce? If so, please share your comment here!



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How Diet Changes Can Help You Manage Divorce Stress

When contemplating or going through divorce, stress becomes part of your daily life. Did you realize what you eat can help you to manage it? Our Wellness Expert, Gretchen Ferraro, recently wrote a helpful blog that provides information on ways you can help control depression and stress with food and vitamins. After reading that, you may have wondered if you had accidentally stumbled upon some health site or scientific article. Whatever the case, it may have been hard to immediately connect with the topic of divorce. I would have thought so too when I was struggling through the effects of an unhappy marriage and divorce. I wish I knew then what I know now.

I’ve been there…

Depression hits me from time to time, and it has for years. I realize now it is very connected to the stressors in my life. I was in an incredibly dark period the last two years of my marriage. I would go through spurts of taking really good care of myself, but I mostly chose to numb with foods that made me feel good at the moment. I’d also regularly indulge in wine — not to excess, but definitely a glass or two to take the edge off. Plus, I got a prescription for Xanax toward the end for a quick “chill out” when things got really bad. This isn’t something I would take often because I didn’t like how it made me feel, but it sure helped calm my body during tumultuous moments where it all felt like too much to even bear. If you’ve experienced this, you know exactly what I mean.

I have been out of that marriage for two years, and I am so much happier. Life is far from perfect. It can be incredibly difficult, to be perfectly honest. Like everyone, my life is full of stressors. It involves everything from choosing to create my own business, the financial pressures of not having a steady income without another income to rely upon, parenting alone with two small children, acclimating to single life and dealing with the ups and downs of romantic relationships. I am very proud of how I manage this most of the time. But sometimes, it just gets to be too much. When too many things are not flowing in the right direction at one time, I simply shut down.

I do try to take decent care of myself, but admittedly it’s not the best. I especially fall down when I am experiencing significant stress. At those times, I go from eating fairly well and exercising at least semi-regularly to sustaining on carbs and wine. The workout clothes stay tucked in my drawer. This doesn’t happen too often, but it does happen. Unfortunately, the responsibilities of having two kids and a business don’t go away when I find myself overwhelmed, depleted and with nothing more to give to anyone or anything. Out of desperation, I took drastic measures.

The Cleanse Experiment

After an unbelievably stressful month, I realized I had gained 5 pounds due to stress munching and comfort-food numbing with every carb I could get my hands on. I had been trying to just get through each day instead of facing it with clarity and focus. I didn’t even feel like myself and certainly wasn’t the person I aspired to be.

So, I decided to detox body and my life. I started the Conscious Cleanse, designed by Jo Schaalman and Julie Pelaez. It’s a 14-day program that eliminates everything processed, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, dairy, soy, gluten and even many fruits and vegetables. The goal of the program is to remove “triggers” from your diet that can cause inflammation and irritability. It’s a good reset for your body, with the side benefit of dropping some pounds. How could you not when you eliminate just about your entire diet! I have never tried something this drastic. I have a history of not sticking to any diet, but I felt really committed this time because my goal wasn’t to look better in my jeans — it was to actually feel better and feel more in control of my life and mood.

I had chosen a time to start when life would be “manageable”. But life decided to give me some serious “tests”. It was my week where I would have my kids for three days instead of four, and there was nothing major going on — I could focus a bit more on me. Well, Day 1 is when I found myself at Children’s Hospital with my son’s terrible ear infection. Then I was trying to manage taking care of him while working for the next couple of days. Nothing stressful about that!

On Day 3, I woke up to a waterfall in my kitchen due to a malfunctioning toilet upstairs. Water ran all night, flooded the bathroom (which, of course, is carpet), the entire hallway, ran through the ceiling into the kitchen and then into the basement. Are you kidding me?! I took a deep breath and worked the problem. After I got the kids to school that morning, I wanted coffee and a bagel like crazy. I could barely handle the craving, but I staved it off and had my smoothie. Later that day, I had a little misstep that injured my wrist, which made it hard to drive, type and chop those veggies I needed to eat. It was also tough to carry those 150 boxes of Girl Scout cookies I picked up for my daughter to sell. Nothing like having stacks of those irresistible goodies in my garage to test some willpower!

Something clicked for me within a few days. I felt more in control of my life. Instead of allowing stressful situations to drive me into behaviors that aren’t good for me, I took control and made better decisions. I chose to nourish my body instead of indulging in something comforting for the moment that really wasn’t so good for me. After reading Getting Divorced? What to Eat to Beat the Blues and Boost Your Mood, I learned that I was actually incorporating the foods and nutrients that Gretchen had recommended.

I had stepped up my vitamins, folic acid and magnesium. I was having a smoothie for breakfast every morning that contained spinach, kale, blueberries, flax and coconut oil. I was eating a ton of salmon, greens, and munching on pumpkin seeds. I started looking forward to my new favorite snack of half of an avocado. I replaced my Diet Coke and coffee with water and non-caffeinated teas. The wine bottles remained closed and the popcorn maker stayed in the cabinet. I was very proud of myself for how I stuck to this program. It was definitely hard at times, and I must admit that I had a couple of cheat moments.

I also took this time to focus on the quality of my thoughts and taking care of my spiritual self. I was meditating for 15 minutes each morning and writing in my gratitude journal, which always shifts energy to a better place. In her book, “Crazy, Sexy Diet”, Kris Carr said that “…when I dumped the junk and aligned myself with my higher purpose, the pieces of the puzzle fell into place.” I got a glimpse of this. I felt stronger, more focused and started reclaiming my power. I was setting appropriate boundaries with people and in situations that were not in alignment with my values. I found it easier to make better choices in all aspects of my life. I stayed more in control of my emotions in the most trying of circumstances.

I say all of this not to advocate engaging in such a drastic program, but rather to encourage you to take some small steps to nourish your body and your mind. Adding foods that truly feed your body and a few additional vitamins will even out and even elevate your mood. Combine that with a little exercise to magnify the positive effects! I know it’s so hard when you are in the depths of depression and struggling to get through the unwinding of an unhappy marriage. One day at a time. One choice at a time. Focus on nourishing yourself instead of numbing. Doing lots of little things right will make a major impact on how you feel physically, emotionally and simply how you feel about yourself. If you found this helpful, please learn more about Untangle The Knot can further support you through your divorce journey.