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Sometimes Life Gets in the Way

Sometimes life just gets in the way. It's that simple. You may have a clear vision, a realistic plan, positive motivation, and good support. You may be making progress along the way. And then something happens that is out of your control and you fall off track.

A common response is to beat yourself up with your thoughts and to feel like you blew it. How often do we blame ourselves and feel like a failure? And how hard is it to get back on the wagon once we feel like we've fallen? But, sometimes, no matter how determined we are to reach our goals, life simply gets in the way of you making things happen as planned. Then what? How can you reassess and revise your plan and jump back on board?

Let me share a little bit of my marathon training adventure as I've learned that running is truly a metaphor for life.... Here I am, a 43 year old single mom, in the midst of a difficult divorce, building a women's wellness center, and just determined to run my first marathon.

While inspired by the movie "Wild" to embark on a healing journey, I don't think I could handle even one night of camping out alone in my backyard, let alone the Pacific Coast Trail! However, I admire Cheryl Strayed's incredible strength and perseverance and connected with her story.

As a brand new runner, running along the beautiful Jersey Shore boardwalks has become part of my personal healing adventure. I have not found anything else to be as soothing or empowering as running along side the crashing waves of the ocean. I can release my thoughts into the ebb and flow of the waves, I can inhale the ocean air and breathe in peace, and I can allow each step forward to show my strength and positive momentum in reaching my goals.

I steadily increased my mileage each week and enjoyed the camaraderie of training with my running partners. I even thought I had confronted my fear of training in the cold until Mother Nature "blessed" us with record breaking lows this winter. While I learned to feel invigorated running when the temps dropped under 25, near freezing conditions were another story! Then my divorce became exceedingly complicated with excessive demands outside of my control.

My life started getting in the way of my training ... Clearly, I can't control the weather. And sadly, I can not control the time needed to manage my divorce. Life forces, outside of my control, are now forcing me to reassess my goal.

On a funny sidebar, when I shared my marathon plans with my children, my 7-year old daughter said, "but mommy, you're not going to win." To which I responded, "not only am I not going to win, but at least 1000 people will finish before me."

So, now I'm not only faced with the dilemma of giving up on my goal and feeling like I failed personally, but feeling like I will fail to be a good role model to my children and to my clients. Do I give up because the going got tough? Do I allow my marriage/divorce to prevent me from reaching another lifelong goal? Do I give up because it got a little cold this winter?

I have decided that giving up is not an option. While I need to accept that life and Mother Nature got in my way, I will not allow either to defeat me. And I have a little girl who needs to learn that I don't have to cross the finish line first to be a winner, I just need to continue my own personal journey.

But, I also need to be realistic here. Life got in the way of my marathon goal (that might have been just a little too big for a new runner anyway) and pushing myself too far, too fast, is just not a smart move. Is the risk of physical injury worth a little disappointment and possible blow to my ego?

If I were guiding a client in therapy, the path would be clear. I would encourage her to break her goal down into manageable parts and embrace success at each step. I would never expect a client to push herself too far past physical limits because of fear of letting go of a dream. When outside forces interfere, it's time to reassess where you are, revise the plan, and just keep going. So that's exactly what I'm going to do.

I'm going to run the NJ Half Marathon in 8 weeks and allow myself to embrace the joy and success of completing my first ever half marathon (not such a shabby goal in itself!). But, watch out Philly, because I'll be there for the full 26.2 in November!

Life gets in the way sometimes and we need to learn to accept what we can't control, move past the roadblocks, and embrace what we have the power to change.

Embracing Possibility

This isn’t where I was supposed to be.

Plain and simple, I was not supposed to be 44, divorced, and a single mom to two young children. I was not supposed to be starting over in the middle of my life. I was not supposed to give life to my children, to not share in their experiences every other weekend. I was not supposed to have my own father die just after I separated from my husband and I moved out of our home. I was not supposed to feel like I was stepping off a cliff into a life I knew nothing about…

I thought I was supposed to have it all – the perfect family life raising my amazing children, enjoying our beautiful home together, sharing the day-to-day events, and working hard in helping others. And, on the outside, the pretty picture of my “white picket-fenced life” looked exactly how it was supposed to be. But, behind closed doors and behind the painted smile, a toxic environment led to a pain so deep and a sadness so strong, that every bit of who I was supposed to be, was slowing slipping away. There reached a point in which my spirit had all but been shattered. While the outside picture may have looked like it was supposed to look, my real world was crumbling.

As a psychologist, I often have clients share with me that they are not where they are supposed to be either. They are supposed to be married, supposed to have children, supposed to have a better job, supposed to be more successful, supposed to have an easier life… They were not supposed to have a child with special needs or any other medical concern. They were not supposed to be sick themselves. They were surely not supposed to be traumatized by some horrific event in their life. And they were absolutely not supposed to face the loss of a parent, the death of a spouse, or the heartbreaking death of a child. None of these things were eversupposed to happen to them.   But, sometimes, some things that were never supposed to happen manage to somehow happen anyway.

We simply do not have the ability to control all of the “supposed to’s” that we end up facing in our life’s journey. We do not have the ability to change the past, we can not change poor decisions we might have made at a different time, and we just can not always change the hand of cards we may have been dealt. And sometimes, for no known reason and no fault of our own, we may have been dealt a truly awful, unfortunate, painful, terrible, simply bad hand.

And, so we come to a fork in the road and we pretty much have two choices we can make. We can dwell on the “supposed to’s” and fantasize about the life that we envisioned we would have. We can beat ourselves up for possibly making a different choice in the past than we would make now. We can stay stuck in our grief, worries, sadness, or pain. We can let the “supposed to’s” both consume us and trap us in our own thoughts and our own feelings and we can allow ourselves to feel hopeless about things ever changing.


What if we can make the choice to accept our circumstances, allow time and effort for healing, and let go of enough of our pain to allow ourselves to just breathe freely in the present?  We can choose to move forward and embrace our journey, albeit a journey that might look and feel very different than what we had previously envisioned. As far as we know for certain, we only have one chance at life on Earth, so in my book, we might as well do everything in our power to make it the best possible life that we can.


Accepting our current circumstances does not mean you have to be happy about your situation. It does not mean you have to necessarily forgive someone else. It does not mean you are not entitled to dream about a different future. Accepting really means that you stop beating yourself up and stop replaying the past over and over in your head while imagining a different ending. Accepting means that you truly acknowledge that you have absolutely zero ability to change anything that happened before this very moment. Accepting means that you truly recognize that you only have the power to control how you yourself think and behave and that you alone are responsible for your own feelings.


As for healing, I believe that it’s a bit of a misnomer to think that time alone “heals all wounds.” While the passage of time can help in easing pain and decreasing the intensity of feelings, healing actually requires active energy and effort. Healing does not mean that we forget the past, forget about a loved one, or feel like we have to embrace our circumstances with joy. Healing is about acceptance, understanding, learning from the past, getting “unstuck,” feeling emotionally supported, and allowing yourself to experience peace and happiness, somehow, some way, at least some of the time. Finding something that brings you joy and feeling like you are entitled to have this experience of joy, no matter what happened in your past.

Letting Go

Letting go involves releasing some of the angst or past “stuff” that you have been holding on to. It might mean looking at your self differently, for example, letting go of a victim mentality and embracing the power of being a survivor. It might mean letting go of a relationship that has ended, or needs to come to an end, and creating room for a new relationship. It might mean letting go of the expectation that someone else would change to meet your needs. It might mean letting go of the belief that you could change the past or change present circumstances that are beyond your control. It might mean letting go of the constant tape of replaying thoughts in your mind that prevent you from being in the present moment. Letting go is simply letting go of the past (at least some of the past) in order to create space and energy within your heart and mind for new beginnings.

Moving Forward

As for me, I’m unquestionably not where I was supposed to be. However, I’m exactly where I need to be and the possibilities for peace and happiness in my life are endless. While divorce is never easy, it is sometimes simply a blessing that allows one to grow into the person they were always meant to be after all.

While life rarely turns out to be exactly as you thought it was supposed to be, sometimes, life’s greatest lessons and greatest opportunities come from accepting our hand of cards, enjoying the moment, and embracing the beautiful possibilities that await your next step.  

Mom launches Ocean wellness center

Kerri Weiss Lazar, Contributor;Published 12:00 a.m. ET June 15, 2014 | Updated 12:10 a.m. ET June 15, 2014


When I embarked on my mission to create a wellness center two years ago, I had no idea that I would be facing the most challenging time of my life. Until that point, I had maintained a small private therapy practice helping women with eating and self-esteem concerns, while mostly keeping busy as full-time mom.

My vision was to create a healing center for women to feel supported while addressing their own needs. As a licensed psychologist, I had mostly worked with clients in individual counseling but believed in the benefits of complementary mind-body services. I was intrigued, for example, by the idea of including physical exercise to encourage an emotional release. There’s nothing like putting on a pair of boxing gloves to punch out some anger!

I started working with some great outside gyms, but it was difficult to provide the privacy necessary for my clients. As I could not achieve my goals alone, I had the challenge of finding the right professionals who shared my mission and could be part of a wellness team. I am so proud of the women who have now come together, each having a unique story to inspire others. Our team includes many working moms, all striving to find the balance we want our clients to achieve.

Just as my practice was building, I was faced with the ending of a difficult marriage, moving, and most painfully, the unexpected loss of my father.

While my goal was to help others through the process of healing and self-discovery, I recognized that I first needed to take time for my own healing. I am now a single mom of two elementary school-age children, and we have faced these losses and transitions with the amazing love and support of family and close friends. I am grateful to all those who have helped us on our journey and more aware than ever that many are not as fortunate.

When faced with trauma, stress and life transitions, we can take steps to be heard, to heal and to feel stronger. A support system is crucial.

Ocean Waves Wellness Center is the new facility I am launching in Ocean Township, and the team of professionals is committed to guiding others in all these ways. We offer counseling, and also, nutrition therapy, massage, yoga, meditation, TRX fitness and conditioning classes, all in one beautiful place.

I love that the studio has been described as a “treehouse,” with the bright sunlight and view of the trees enhancing the experience of peace and relaxation. It’s not a gym but a true studio with a small-group training feel. Having only eight to 10 women per group allows for a more intimate experience and lots of personal attention from the trainers.

The team specializes in helping women with emotional eating, weight management, emotional abuse, chronic illness, chronic pain, digestive disorders, prenatal and postnatal needs, anxiety and depression. Classes include mother-daughter yoga, prenatal yoga, mother-daughter TRX, couples yoga and mom-and-baby classes.

As I’ve learned on my own journey, we can’t always control what happens in life, but we can choose how we respond, and we can allow ourselves to let go, heal and move forward. Ocean Waves is opening its doors to help women feel stronger and healthier, both physically and emotionally.

It’s about wellness from the inside out!



Strength and Wellness from the Inside-Out at Ocean Waves Wellness Center

. .

Jersey Shore in Motion recently had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Kerri Weiss Lazar, licensed psychologist, mentor, educator, mother and owner of Ocean Waves Wellness Center in Ocean, NJ. Her center opened in June 2014 and has quickly become a source of healing and support for women and young girls. The center’s name is a metaphor for the waves of the sea and how, like life, they can roll along peaceful and then at times be unpredictable.

Kerri and her team help clients to envision and achievea better tomorrow, and she often draws from her own experiences as a single mother of two, relating to, and sharing her own personal triumphs with patients. Her spirit and energy motivate and inspire her clients when embarking on their own wellness journeys. Thanks to Kerri’s passion for helping others achieve wellness from within, the Center has attracted a dedicated community of professionals including three licensed clinical social workers, a massage therapist, a registered dietician and certified fitness trainers.

“I’ve worked with a lot of women who have felt locked in their own lives, struggling with healing from past relationships or difficult/traumatic experiences,” says Kerri. “At any age, we canmove forward and make changes for the future. With strength of mind comes strength of body, and at Ocean Waves we offer the services that make both possible by building emotional and physical resilience.”

When you walk through the Center’s doors, a soothing palette of blues, whites and greys create a subdued ambiance. Comfortable furniture, including cozy couches and pillows, offer clients in both individual and group therapies, a quiet and peaceful retreat within a loft setting, free from the busy lives they lead outside its doors. Bright windows look out upon the surrounding trees from inside the facility’s fitness studio, complete with new yoga and TRX strength-training stations. Kerri likes to point out that there are no mirrors in the Center’s fitness areas because a positive self-image is built from within, not by critiquing perceived flaws in a mirror.

Each program is designed to help the individual person and staff is there to mentor at any moment, whether with physical training, soothing tired muscles, helping you create a plan for balanced eating, or just talking out your troubles. It’s all possible at Ocean Waves. Mind, body and soul are healed to reach true wellness from the inside out.

Often, you’ll find Kerri and her team in the fitness studio side-by-side with clients who need the extra motivation and a friend. “It’s not easy to start exercising, even when you know it will make you feel better. Just getting started, that’s what it’s all about at the Center and offering a community that helps you take the first step and remain motivated and focused,” says Kerri.

Clients visit for a wide range of reasons such as overeating, trauma, divorce, and emotional support, just to name a few. The Center’s therapists also specialize in working with kids with ADHD and parenting concerns, prenatal and postnatal issues, and coping with chronic pain/illness.

Kerri also has a way of making the impossible seem possible, even when you’re just talking about dessert. “You can have that cookie. It’s about balancing life and savoring the moment,” says Kerri. And we couldn’t agree more with her.  Savoring life’s special moments (and cookies) sounds like a healthy plan to us. Schedule time to visit Ocean Waves Wellness Center soon and start living your healthier and happier life.

To view the latest events and happenings at Ocean Waves Wellness on Jersey Shore inMotion, click here.

Dr. Kerri Weiss Lazar, Licensed Psychologist, NJ License #4087

Ocean Waves Wellness Center 
1300 Highway 35, Plaza III
Ocean, NJ 07712

Phone: (732) 845-1111

Website: http://www.oceanwaveswellness.com

The Center does take most insurance plans and offers private pay on a sliding scale.

Hours: Classes and therapy sessions are conveniently held on mornings, afternoons and evenings throughout the week including weekends.

Services: Individual & Group Therapy, Therapeutic Yoga, Gentle Yoga, Mother-Daughter Yoga Prenatal Yoga, Ocean Wave Running Club, TRX Strength Club, Movement Therapy, Girls Club, Taste of Wellness Program, Ocean Waves Inside Out Challenge

About TRX: The TRX Suspension Trainer is a set of adjustable straps with handles that is anchored to something sturdy above head level, including a ceiling, wall, tree branch, fence or pole. It gives you a total-body training workout, builds strength and improves flexibility, balance and core stability.

Upcoming Workshops: Mindful Eating for the Holidays, Managing Stress During the Holiday Season, A Taste of Wellness, and The Ocean Waves Inside Out Challenge.