Wow! When I have an epiphany, it’s a powerful thing for me. It rocks my whole world. It shakes me to my core and racks my very foundation. In most cases it reaffirms my beliefs and values by giving me a new way to see an old thing.

But every so often it causes me to revamp my thinking and take a new approach to something…sometimes I even venture into something altogether new.

Such was this case yesterday. It occurred to me while talking with a coach about my new life as single mom and separated wife that I hadn’t been listening to my gut about some things. For me, a gut feeling is a sign from God. Our gut instinct, or Intuition, is a God-given survival mechanism meant to help us thrive in life. when we listen to our gut, we know where to go, where not to go, and how to read people. Things that don’t make sense still work out for our benefit because we somehow manage to aptly navigate the unseen.

I had been keeping my distance from my estranged husband. I felt it in my best interest since he’s often inconsistent, inconsiderate and causes me great inconvenience. However, over time I found myself confused about how to engage him when I needed to. I’m new at this mom thing and there are some thing I don’t necessarily believe in – like keeping men away from their children (child support or no). There were so many questions I had about my role as a wife and parent – particularly a single mom. So, I did what most of us do: I recalled what worked for others.

I knew of women who separated from their husbands (for far greater indiscretions than my husband and I) for periods of as much as three years and later reconciled. Not intending to reconcile, I just wanted to know how to get him to straighten up in support of our one common goal…our son.

Each of these women (and one man) proclaimed that distance, space, and proceeding with extreme caution were the keys to their victorious outcomes. Thy kept their men from their children at times because they feared the man’s influence on the kids (mostly boys). But all of them kept in touch. Whether a business venture that kept them talking or a phone call before bedtime for daddy to say good-night, the lines of communication were kept open, the expectations were made clear and the interactions (by phone or otherwise) were kept to a minimum.

In the end, these men (and woman) straightened up, they flew right. They came home and took care of their families. They gave up whatever vices had caused dissension in their homes to begin with. Truly, these are tales of overcoming – I’m a witness.

And yet, these women don’t roll like I do. We don’t believe in all the same things. They are willing to go to extremes that I’m not yet ready to employ (and I have to admit, I’m willing to employ some pretty interesting extremes). So what to do?

Being an educator, I had to go back to my administrative days in urban schools. There are some common characteristics of every urban school – adept administration, support of central office staff, effective resource management, etc. The most important variable, though, is a school’s ability to individualize its services to meet the unique needs of its target population. For instance, a school with a predominantly Spanish-speaking population will have interpreters available for meetings and conferences. A school with a predominantly working-class population will offer programs before- and after-school hours so that parents can be active in their child’s education without sacrificing work.

In my case, I had not individualized my approach to address my target population. I hadn’t trusted my instincts, which constantly prompted me to be kind, be loving and be considerate to my husband even when he didn’t do the same. I have known for most of my life that people need love the most when they act most unlovable. Yet, I questioned this model. This isn’t what the others had done to get the results they wanted. In most cases, my role models had completely shut down and demonstrations of love.

But that’s the thing about role models…you have to roll how they roll – and I couldn’t say I did. So I had to regroup, revamp and revisit this issue. So I’ve decided to do me – to follow my gut and move in my own truth.

I can’t promise you the journey will be smoother – it was just yesterday that I came to this new understanding after all – but I do believe things can only get better from here on out.

And – as you know – this experience would be nothing to me if I didn’t try to use it to help someone else.

So tell me, what do you need to customize in your life to make it work for you? Are you trying to fit your career, your marriage, your parenting style, or your vocabulary into someone else’s box? Are your choices about growth and testing your limits or are they based in fear and keeping you constrained? To find the answer, just listen to your gut.

Good luck and Namaste.

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