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Woman talking about her divorce recovery

How to Recover from Divorce Emotionally

You’ve heard it before, divorce can be as stressful as losing someone to death. Except death is final. The person is gone. So for those who never wanted the divorce, who continue to struggle, trying to recover from divorce emotionally, that lack of closure — still knowing your ex is around — can be more painful than death. He’s not gone — entirely.

Losing your marriage no matter how long you’ve been married, or the circumstances of who left whom, is going to require experiencing and working through your grief. And grief may not be what you think it means.

We like to define grief as the sudden loss of a familiar pattern or way of living. For example, while you might not be missing the yelling, the passive/aggressive behaviors of your ex or yourself, or the lying, cheating or second guessing of yourself;  you’re probably not entirely prepared for the changes facing you across the board, now that you are waking up wondering who your are. How did you lose yourself? As you begin to understand divorce recovery, and that this next chapter in front of you is complicated, you’ll need to remind yourself to be patient. Your healing is not going to happen overnight.

But there are things you can do to begin the repairing of your heart and body and soul.

Get the support and help you need

The first weeks and months after a divorce can feel soul-wretchedly lonely, but there are others who can help you feel less alone. While friends and family may be available to lean on if you need anything, it is sometimes better to work with a licensed counselor or therapist who can guide you through your grieving. It’s important to have a safe place where you can honestly open up and discuss your feelings in the wake of the divorce.

Accept your emotions, experience them and talk about them

You might be feeling angry or besotted with sadness. You might be numb. You are probably experiencing a spectrum of emotions after your divorce, and there is no right or wrong way to feel. This is an extremely challenging moment time and it’s important that you accept your feelings for what they are. Cry when you need to cry (in that safe place described above). Vent about your anger when you feel frustrated or upset. This allows you to experience the emotions and to process what they mean to you.  It’s not about sweeping them under the rug or putting them in a box. It’s about honoring them and giving them space. A support group, a good friend who has been through divorce, or a coach can help you with perspective and what’s more, doing something to move beyond the trauma.

Try to maintain your daily routine

Nearly every aspect of your life is uprooted when you get divorced, and it’s easy to feel like each day is chaotic and stressful. To maintain some sense of normalcy, it’s necessary to stick to a consistent routine. Continue to have your favorite coffee in the morning. Take the same route to work, and make your favorite spaghetti dinner on Tuesdays like you always do. This can both alleviate stress and bring comfort during an emotionally trying time in your life.

Delve into a new interest or hobby

Divorce can take its toll on your identity. While you grieve the loss of your status as a married person and as a spouse to someone that you once loved, you should also see an opportunity to grow, change and learn new things. For many, a new hobby can be therapeutic. It takes your mind off of the pain of your divorce, and also allows you to find something for yourself that you enjoy. Photography, crafting, writing, hiking or yoga are a few options that you might want to consider.

Keep a journal

Writing about your feelings and your daily activities can provide you with a private outlet for your feelings. This is one of the safest spaces to disclose your thoughts and your experiences in the aftermath of your divorce. Pick a time of day where you have a few extra minutes to jot down your thoughts — many people find that before bedtime is a wonderful time of day to journal. Incorporate journaling into your new routine, and keep up with your new habit in the months and years to come.

Prioritize self-care

After a divorce, it can be easy to focus your efforts on caring for your children or throwing yourself into your work. It’s also easy to forget that you need to take care of yourself. However, this is one of the most important times in your life to prioritize self-care. Treat yourself to that pedicure, even if it doesn’t feel like you have the time. Take a warm bubble bath at the end of the night and read a light-hearted novel. Visit your favorite local restaurant and enjoy the most delicious item on the menu. Do things that make you feel good and happy, as this will help minimize your stress.

Allow yourself to focus on the future 

Your future needs your attention, And there is a future. You may not feel it or see it, but it’s right in front of you. You just cannot see it if you are only looking in the rearview mirror.

 

If you are struggling to recover from divorce, and dealing with the wounds at the same time you are trying to rebuild your life, you may be especially interested in a 6-week group we are forming to support women navigating this new chapter of their lives. If you’d like to learn more, schedule a quick 15-minute chat with SAS Cofounder, Liza Caldwell.  To advance, to live well, you must do something.

Father coparenting his daughter by tending to her hair.

How to Parent Your CoParent (Without Him Realizing!)

You know that setting an example is always important. And you can guess, I’m not just talking about the model you demonstrate to your kids. When you separate and become coparents, it is so easy to disengage and consequently, communicate less and less with your ex. It can be such a relief! Yet, communication more than ever remains key. If you want a healthy coparenting situation where both parents are informed and active (the best scenario for your children), then how you share information is vital. What’s more, communicating healthily in front of your children provides them with a model to base their own behavior.

The value of setting the coparent example

If you want your children to grow up as kind-hearted, thoughtful, respectful people then screaming at your coparent is not going to cut it. Your ex needs to realize this too.

So, if you lead, if you set the example, this will show your coparent “how it’s done” (potentially, he* may have no idea, otherwise). This might well encourage your ex to emulate you (but don’t ask him to acknowledge that!)

There should be a clear distinction between setting an example for your ex-spouse and making an example of him/her. If the other half of your coparenting duo is failing in some way, don’t complain about this to your children. If your coparent is breaking arrangements or missing dates, speak to him about it whilst keeping the interests of your children the focal point of your conversation. You must always frame things and behaviors as how they impact the children. Try explaining that lateness and missing appointments “are not values we want to instill in our children” and simultaneously how “it’s not fair to keep them waiting or give them false expectations.” “They are excited to see you and disappointed when you don’t show up or appear unreliable.”

This seems self-evident, but your coparent is rarely going to be motivated to please you (–although some ex’s are evolved). So venting to him about your plans being foiled or your appointments being missed because of him and his lateness or no show, is not going to necessarily cause him to be more reliable in the future.  Again, it’s the kids, it’s the kids …

It goes without saying that you then need to do everything to keep your word, and you must honor your appointments. When you reach an agreement, stick to it. Parenting plans and schedules are designed to be flexible but simultaneously need to be stuck to unless enough prior notice is given to all involved parties (including your kids).

Respect your differences

There are many different parenting styles and it’s highly unlikely that you and your ex will see eye to eye on all aspects of raising the children. In fact it’s highly unlikely these days you see eye to eye on anything! That being said you can’t expect each co-parent to share the exact same ideals and try to implement the same parenting methods. Differences don’t mean that one approach is right and that one is wrong. If you want your coparent to see things from your point of view, or if your ex genuinely needs a metaphorical kick up the backside in terms of effort levels, then the best approach is not belittling the parent in front of the children.

Parenting styles you may be familiar with range from Authoritative to Permissive with plenty of room for grey areas in between. Of course, if your coparent is massively lacking discipline in an area of their parenting then you should have a quiet word. You need to agree on values you teach your children and consistent rules regardless of which household they’re staying at. This doesn’t mean being too involved in your coparent’s time with your child though; give your ex room to naturally develop his relationship, solo, with the children.

Don’t give up!

If you can accept your differences then you can work together. Don’t dismiss your chances at having a successful coparenting relationship, because your marriage did not work. Your children are one of the wonderful things that remain of your relationship. And it is for your children that it’s worth doing your best now with your ex. Giving your children the quality of life you want, the parenting relationships they need, and the easiest transition between households are your goals.

Listen to your co-parent, acknowledge his opinion and respect prior arrangements. Reinforce the fact that you are a parenting team. Be considerate towards your ex, co-operate, apologize when necessary and communicate effectively whilst applying restraint. Keep your coparent informed, updated and most importantly involved with your children.

Be prepared to compromise and work on your patience! Apply constructive criticisms SELECTIVELY and be ready for the response. It may seem like a lot to remember but eventually it will come more naturally and once applied you should be able to get a mirrored response from your ex-spouse. If not, he will run risk of being the “bad guy” and in that situation at least your children will have one positive role model to look up to.

Doing the right thing improves your coparenting relationship and your parent/child relationship. It may seem obvious but then again nobody will claim it is easy. When past love, hate, bitterness and emotion is involved it becomes very difficult to be the bigger person and control your actions, words and body language. Nevertheless you must put the hurt and anger aside and separate your feelings from your behavior. Your children must realize that they are far more important than the issues that ended your relationship with your Ex.

This article was authored by Krishan Smith, senior editor and content specialist at Custody X Change, a custody software solution. Custody X Change provides software for developing and managing custody agreements, parenting plans and schedules whilst additionally providing free co-parenting resources and a scholarship program for single parents.

(* Disclaimer: For the sake of brevity, this article relies on the pronoun “him” as the gender of  your ex; while we well realize your ex may be a she.)

Independent woman spreading her cape like a powerful butterfly

100 Must Do’s for the Newly Divorced, Independent Woman

How do you rebuild your life after divorce? Ah, a very good question, my dear Ms. Watson. So good … or so daunting … that the answer and its blinding array of what ifs and unknowns make most people shrink and stop. They never find out for themselves.

But that’s not you. Because here you are after divorce, emerging from the dust and finding that you have no choice. You are wondering who you were before you were married. You question who you are now.

This is tortuously … normal.

But first things first: pay them no mind, those back there, watching you from afar. They mean well (… well, mostly) but they don’t understand. After all, from what they can see — most logically and clearly — is that you’ve completed the divorce agreement. What’s more, you’re living in a separate house. Shouldn’t you be getting a grip on yourself and moving on?

You are moving on, is what we’ll tell you.

The experience of beginning these steps below, will build upon the culmination of what you’ve been through and who you want to be. You will discover you do have a choice. You have choices, indeed.

And after you’ve read our list of one hundred ways to support and enhance your life as a proud, independent woman, take in a big breath and consider one more.

A retreat of epic proportions!

100 Must Do’s for the Newly Divorced, Independent Woman

1. Reconnect with long lost friends and family.

2. Eat brightly colored fruit and vegetables that say yes to life and YES to LIVING!

3. Find a good financial advisor who empowers you.

4. Open your own bank accounts (if you haven’t) and check your credit score.

5. Complete paperwork or any lingering details from the divorce (For example, transfer/consolidate your IRA. Change beneficiaries on documents. Are you changing your name?)

6. Take a bath in lavender and frankincense.

7. Find a divorced-friend (or friends) and schedule a monthly outing or regular, stay-at-home potluck and netflix viewing of … Under the Tuscan Sun? The First Wives’ Club? Eat, Pray, Love? An Unmarried Woman? Wild? The Other Woman?

8. Elsewhere, create boundaries. Lines in the sand. Practice saying “No” elegantly – especially to toxic friends or situations.

9. Connect with Nature everyday.

10. Understand you are in flux (even now) after the divorce, and take steps to begin or nurture your healing.

11. Buy a new mattress and sheets. (Spray them with your favorite perfume for you.)

12. Find an affordable accountant who will teach you more about financial independence. BONUS if he has a sense of humor!

13. Evaluate your credit cards, consolidate debt and cut what you don’t need.

14. Investigate your home options, now and long term. What’s the smart play for now? What’s your dream?

15. Take a nap.

16. If you don’t have the children, sleep in.

17. Wake up and commit to a daily practice of moving and getting in shape.

18. Get your teeth bleached.

19. When faced with a decision, start checking in with your Inner Voice. What does she say?

20. Scan your divorce document and have a couple of extra copies notarized for posterity.

21. Then put all divorce paperwork away.

22. Create a new email address for your new chapter, Life After Divorce.

23. Smoke (because you can).

24. Stop smoking and decide to have your home smudged instead.

25. Keep purging. Donate unused items, clothes, and books. Remove yourself from junk mail and automated call lists.

26. Create a beautiful home with just what you want and need. Make it for you (& your kids if you have them). Even if it is smaller than before, make it your anchor and your sanctuary.

27. Write in a journal. You could even throw out the journal someday, but get the thoughts out of your head. Morning is a really good time for this. Excellent ideas might come to you this way.

28. Try a new haircut or outrageous hair color!

29. Buy some French Love Letters & get educated about STD’s.

30. Schedule your gynecologist, your 3D mammogram, your general practitioner, and your eye exams.

31. Not to sound maudlin, but since you are on this efficiency roll, you might as well update or CREATE your will. You’ve got to anyway!

32. Eat something your Ex was allergic to.

33. Make a plan for the holidays when you are with the kids … and when you are alone. Now.

34. Take to bed and cry.

35. Don’t date.

36. Or, hit Tinder! (Create your online dating profile.)

37. Develop a budget. Ask your financial advisor or your accountant how; or better yet, see #52.

38. Support Frankie and Grace’s business: buy a good quality vibrator and use it for health reasons.

39. Learn how to breathe.

40. Avoid processed foods.

41. Create your Blues or Freedom playlist (Aretha? Adele? Beyoncé?) Play it when you need reminding you have survived divorce. You are building a meaningful life. You are an independent woman. You are worthy.

42. Go to graduate school or enroll in some Continuing Education classes at your local college.

43. Write down your goals for the next year … the next 5 years … and your long term.

44. Botox it.

45. Wear an outfit you love but your Ex hated.

46. Go to a cool bar solo (Go inside.)

47. If you are heading back to work after a career break, check out iRelaunch.com

48. Update your resume regardless.

49. Use sunblock (then go topless on a beach).

50. Investigate insurance options and based on what you can afford, get something in place.

51. Visit a nutritionist. Find out what foods you are allergic to and what others make you thrive.

52. Learn even more about your money with this accessible and genius class designed for newly divorced women.

53. Get more professional advice, but this time on “your colors.” Pick one new, sexy, power lipstick. Because sometimes you are going to need to fake it, and other times, life after divorce is going to be better than you imagined.

54. Allow yourself to date (and more) a younger man.

55. Keep exploring different styles of clothes and different types of men.

56. Swim in a lake or ocean au naturel.

57. Learn to parallel park or drive stick shift.

58. Stop apologizing.

59. Be still.

60. Explore traveling to a place you’ve only dreamed of (without the kids)

61. Detox your body.

62. Start planning and saving to make your dream trip a reality. This. Year.

63. Hire a mentor / coach or see a loving therapist.

64. Cultivate a daily relationship with YOU.

65. Declare you will listen to the biggest, most expressed version of yourself. She has plans for you (and may scare you to death, which means you’re on to something).

66. Explore investment opportunities.

67. Consider starting a woman’s group — spiritual group, meditation, book club, walking.

68. Dare to state what it is you really want.

69. Stay out all night.

70. Invite yourself to a friend’s house for the weekend.

71. Chase a bat down or change a mousetrap: do something icky you never would have done before.

72. Create your Musts Have’s and Non Negotiables for your next relationship as an independent woman.

73. Every now and then, just be with a small child. View the world through her eyes.

74. Stay connected to your most inspiring divorced friends, keep nurturing your posse and stay open to new and surprising people.

75. Go on retreat, do yoga, meditate and connect to a world deep inside and outside you.

76. Commit to one thing you have always wanted to create.

77. Sell your wedding ring and finance something on this list or your bucket list.

78. Spend time visiting your mother, your father, an elderly person. Ask, what is their most important Life Lesson?

79. At night before going off to sleep remind yourself of what you are grateful for.

80. Create a vision board giving visuals (pictures, inspirational quotes, notes) to your goals (#43). Hang it where you will see and add to it regularly.

81. Be prepared: buy new underwear.

82. Learn something you’ve always wanted to try (Italian? Snowboarding? Bee-keeping?)

83. Hike a trail whose name inspires you? (The Incan Trail, The Appalachian or El Camino de Santiago?)

84. List your house on Airbnb or Home Exchange and go somewhere else to live like a local.

85. Do something you could never do when you were married.

86. Look back and laugh.

87. Teach someone the thing(s) you do effortlessly.

88. Find a place you feel whole and go there often.

89. Investigate owning your own business.

90. Spend time with your heroines (in whatever form).

91. Define what courageous means to you.

92. Do something courageous each day.

93. Understand what forgiveness really means and write your letters of forgiveness.

94. Turn your skills into inspiration.

95. Learn mindfulness.

96. Shake your booty (any dance class or club will do).

97. Choose joy and laugh now!

98. Determine if your thoughts support your ideal life and proceed accordingly.

99. Begin writing your memoir.

100. Help someone else.

101. Volunteer.

102. If you’ve never had your eyelashes done — find your eyelash girl!

103. Add one healthy habit every day.

104. Own your gifts. Owning them means admitting they are there, no matter how scary, and showing up as a woman with those gifts.

105. Find ways to be accountable. (A mentor, possibly?)

106. Commit to growing and thriving!

If you are aching to get to that place of independence, but are still grappling with momentous change (divorce? career transition? empty nesting? widowhood?), connect with us a for a free coaching session. We promise — whether you work further with us or not — you will walk away with a next step in securing that future, that future of power and real, genuine living.

And if you are seeking structure, divorce support and female wisdom, check out Annie’s Group.

Life after divorce dating can challenge your confidence.

Life After Divorce: 6 Dating Tips on How to Show Up

You might be thinking about dating now that you’ve arrived here in this land of the unknown, your life after divorce; and this particular aspect of it can be intimidating, exciting, and frankly, straight-up terrifying. When my marriage ended I was, or so I thought, eager to start dating, and I set up an online dating profile almost immediately. After matching with someone, we texted for a full week before I was able to go out on an actual date. I felt relatively comfortable the few times we chatted on the phone. He was also newly divorced but had been dating for a few months. However, when the day came of our first date (and my FIRST date in almost 17 years) I was anxiety-ridden! I paced around my apartment fretting about why I shouldn’t be doing this:

“What if I have nothing to talk about?” (which, by the way, has happened NEVER in my life)

“What if I do something embarrassing like trip on my way to the table?” (That might have happened before.)

“What if he tries to KISS ME??!!” (Hmm, scary? Or is that I don’t trust myself?)

I even texted my date to tell him I would probably not be able to make it. Luckily he saw right through my hesitation and eased my worries (– there are compassionate people out there!). I then called a friend who helped talk me off the ledge, and after hanging up the phone, I stared down my reflection in the mirror. I had to rip off the metaphorical band-aid, get my act together and get out the door. I put on some of my favorite music: I needed some serious GIRL POWER music and so I opted for some Rihanna and Beyonce (whom I enjoy now thanks to my two daughters). I put on my new IRO jeans (my best friend convinced me I needed some sexy jeans for my new dating life— the best $200 I ever spent!!) and somehow made it through the date with my self-esteem intact.

Since that day, I’ve spent a LOT of time preparing for dates. My friends tease me that it’s become my hobby (I have to say they aren’t entirely wrong!). Over the course of the past few years as I’ve advanced through my own divorce recovery and gotten to know myself even more,  I’ve honed my craft and have actually begun to truly enjoy dating, to thrill in it even. Dating is a skill that can absolutely be learned, and like a chess game, once you have a few good strategies in place you can begin to feel confident enough to take a few risks. The same can be said about how you choose to dress yourself for dating. Once you have your good reliable, strategies in place you can begin to finesse the details.

Based on my now ample experience, here are the suggestions I most often share with clients and friends who need a little boost as they head out the door to begin their dating journey.

Alyssa’s 6 Tips for Showing Up in Your New Life After Divorce

    1. Start with the fundamentals. Address your foundational pieces. Chances are you are wearing a yellowed bra that is old, stretched out or otherwise ill fitting! I know I was. Go to a good lingerie shop* and have the saleswoman help you find a bra that actually fits AND looks good. You will feel sexier and empowered just knowing you have it on.
    2. Keep it easy. The day or evening of a first date is not the time to reinvent the wheel. Create a date “uniform” where you have, for example, great fitting jeans, a comfortable pair of boots (see below), your new well-fitting, but sexy,bra and just swap out different tops.
    3. Treat yourself to one new thing: a perfect pair of jeans, a new great pair of boots (with a little lift of heel to make you feel taller), a new haircut, or even some highlights.  One key element of getting through your first date (and thereafter in your new and empowered, life after divorce) is feeling good about yourself because, after all, self-confidence is attractive. “Look good feel good” is an old saying that still holds true. If you feel like you look great you will feel great and more confident.
    4. Accessorize: remember that most first dates are sitting next to or across from someone. Mostly what your date is seeing is your top and jewelry. A simple top and some favorite jewelry or an interesting top and minimal accessories.
    5. Never show up on a date in shoes you can’t walk in! You’ll want to feel comfortable enough to take a leisurely romantic stroll or head on to a new adventure should your date take on a life of its own. But obviously you want to feel good in them (i.e. sexy) so don’t go too far on the comfort level. Leave the “sensible” shoes at the office.
    6. HAVE FUN. This is not a styling tip but just a “life after divorce” tip. Seriously, this should be a fun experience! This time around, you’re not 20 something full of insecurities. You’re not (necessarily) looking for a life partner. You can use this opportunity to learn more about yourself and whom you want to spend time with. You can try new things: go to concerts, try new foods, visit a neighborhood you’ve never explored, and open your mind to exciting opportunities.

After a few months, the most important thing I learned is that I wasn’t “just a wife and mother.” I rediscovered my femininity and also my sexuality (another blog post entirely!). I had a client, who after working with me said, “I would walk down the street and feel invisible before, and now I feel a new vitality that was dormant for so long. I forgot what it felt like.” I definitely relate to that and know many other women who have experienced similar revelations. My advice is to not overthink it and just enjoy your newfound freedom. Try to see dating as a way to connect with new people and finding your inner glow and fun side again.

 

*If you are in the New York Metro area, email me at [email protected] for my favorites.

Alyssa Dineen has been a New York City stylist for close to 20 years. She has worked with all different personalities, body types and budgets and knows how to help you stay relevant and current while still feeling like yourself — the best version of yourself. Get in touch today to find the styling package that suits you best www.stylemyprofilenyc.com.

credit: weheartit.com

Midlife Volunteering for Women: Listening for the Wild Things

The air felt hot and dry against my face, but the breeze felt cool and fresh. I listened to the steam of air released and watched what unfolded below.

A long time ago, I flew over Kenya’s Masai Mara — in a hot air balloon. Aloft the wind currents, my new husband and I marveled over the sweeping plain filled with buffalo, wildebeest and impala. And we shuddered with the thrilling descent over a river clustered with hippo. I still see the hippos’ jaws extended as we drifted down. Then landing elsewhere, we smashed into a towering red termite mound. I was amazed to see a pride of lions resting nearby, watching antelope when I stood up; and not far away from them, the outrageous — a luxurious champagne brunch prepared for us. The contrast — the height of civilization, complete with white linen tablecloths, crystal goblets and chinked silver service — and the “Super Natural” of Africa made for the consummate, romantic and fully colonial experience. Aside the birth of my two daughters, the safari honeymoon, filled with hope and possibility, would be the highlight of my marriage.

It has taken me 27 years to return to Africa. This time, I’ve come on my own.

I am in IMFolozi National Reserve in South Africa, serving as a volunteer with Wildlife Act – an organization dedicated to the preservation of endangered species.

What brought me here was an awareness of my own ticking mortality and things I must still do. Last summer I was forced to stay in New York City where I live in order to receive treatment, having been diagnosed with breast cancer. I worked a lot, rarely took time off, and reported daily for my “tanning bed.” I knew I was incredibly lucky to be diagnosed and treated early, to endure only a lumpectomy, and above all, survive. But on some level, too, I understood as well that if I were lying on my deathbed I would not be going quietly. I still had things to savor and getting back to Africa was one of them. Though the honeymoon safari would be forever imprinted in my head, there was something about its privilege and naiveté that rubbed me the wrong way now that I was older, wiser, and divorced.

Credit: Diana Doolittle

SAS Cofounder Liza Caldwell in IMfolozi National Park, South Africa.

Imfolozi is the oldest national park in Africa, and one of the most dazzling or so I am told. I discover this for myself as I scan the horizon holding a transistor and telemetric equipment from the back of an open-air truck. My colleagues and I are tracking African wild dog, cheetah, lion, and vulture (yes!) and it’s 5:00 am. The air is not warm but icy. This may be South Africa, but it feels like Patagonia.

For hours each day, we listen and measure the strength of signals given off from different collars certain animals wear. We hear the beeps and charge off to track, photograph and record a sighting. The routine is simple and not unlike a meditation. But each day brings the unexpected and the show-stopping that I feel singled out to witness.

From the rising of the orange disk sun to the sounds of the Cape Town Turtle Dove or roaring lions in the riverbed, I feel my life anew. Africa has a way of handing you “first-times,” like the climax I experienced yesterday, when the Reserve’s vet handed me the shot to revive a tranquilized wild dog. “Just grab the muscle in his haunch, pinch and wait for the signal. Then stick the needle in.” I certainly had not planned on touching the wild dogs, or smelling them. But I am still vibing and privileged in an altogether new way: to be in a place in my life that has me listening and at last acting on what my inner voice says I must do.

Turns out, that inner voice can find its choir, for I am surrounded by other powerful voices here; a group of women who have come from all over the world. Though each one’s story is unique, they are like me in many ways. They have transitioned through something and understand time is finite. If there is a calling of the wild, one must listen.

In the hope of inspiring you, I asked a few to share what it was that had them leave the familiar and find themselves immersed in nature, here in Africa, too.

Cathy Dawson quit her job and sold her house.

Cathy Dawson, 45 years old, Hudson, New York: 

“I have always been passionate about the wildlife in Africa. It’s been a lifelong dream to go and see all the magnificent creatures, especially the big five. However, there has never been enough time, money or courage to make the trip.

And then, my husband left me. I hit rock bottom for a few days, and then realized in my deepest, darkest moments that this was an opportunity, something I had been denied. I could create a new life for myself on my own terms.

So, not only did I cut ties with my ex-husband, I also quit my job and sold my house. Africa was calling! I had to respond, but I wanted my experience to be different than a safari. So, I decided to take direct action and help threatened species. I made plans to go to Zululand as a midlife volunteer and to join WildlifeAct to honor that part of my soul that has been neglected for so long.”

“I like to think about what Wayne Dyer once said,

‘I don’t want to die with the laughter still inside me'”

~ Penny M. from Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Dr. Diana Doolittle (not her real name), 45 years old, London, U.K:

“In 2015 I went on safari to the Serengeti with my husband and fell in love. In love, with the magnificence, the power and sheer presence of the lions! They inspired me in a way that was totally alien. I went back to London and explored ways that would lead me back.

I stumbled across Wildlife Act. The NGO struck me as an ethical organization. There was no “cub petting.” They monitor the lions from a distance! When I told them at my job I needed to go to Africa, management was very supportive. They agreed to an “unpaid leave.” And my husband was supportive. He was surprised of course, as I normally travel with an extra suitcase – just for my hair products. But he said I must do what I must do.

The culmination of my experience so far has been the drawing blood from a wild dog. By training I am a doctor, but yesterday, I felt my whole life had geared me for this moment. And perhaps I should have become a vet. I understand now why people give up everything and undertake conservation work. It is a privilege to work towards protecting the vulnerable and the innocent.”

Penny M., 63 years old, Vancouver Island, British Columbia:

“The wild dogs called me. I’m 63 and had knee surgery 5 years ago. Both my knees are titanium! — Believe me, you can’t lose me in the airport. You hear me coming through security …. As for coming here I figured it’s not gonna get any easier. Now, is when I have the time and I couldn’t wait around anymore, or for those people who said they ‘might do it with me one day.’ I like to think about what Wayne Dwyer said, ‘I don’t want to die with the laughter still inside me.'”

Marumo Nene, Endangered Species Monitor for WildlifeACT at IMfolozi Reserve, South Africa

Marumo Nene, 33 years old, Wildlife Monitor and Volunteer Manager, KwaZululnatal, South Africa

“Growing up under Apartheid policies, I didn’t know anything about conservation or much about animals. The reserve and other national parks in South Africa were off limits to blacks unless we worked there. Only sometimes, when I was tending my father’s goats, would I even go near this reserve, IMfolozi. When I did, I’d catch glimpses of white men riding horses supervising black men fixing the fence. So when my father suggested I apply for an internship at IMfolozi where he had been working as one of the first blacks on the inside, heading up a project on alien plants, I told him, “No! I am not fixing any fences!!” But he insisted I check it out and so I applied to please him. And I found myself! I love animals and nature. After the internship I gave up what I had been studying — Public Relations — and became a field guide and then I got a job to monitor wild dogs, an endangered species. This is where I want to be — in the middle of it. Nature gives me peace of mind or what we say in Zulu, Kunothula – a quietness. I plan to stay involved here forever.”

 

Dr. Ivana Cinková, 34 years old, Litomyšl, Czech Republic/ Researcher Completing her Post Doctorate on White Rhino Communication: 

“I’ve wanted to come to Africa since I was around 6 years old. I was little and saw Joy Adamson’s “Born Free,” and then some time after, I read a children’s book about a Czech who moved rhinos from the Sudan to a Czech zoo. I liked his stories and in particular about a female Rhino who would smash the cell she was held in, just so the baby rhinos could get to her. She didn’t smash the rest of the pen, just the barrier to the babies. The workers would repair the wall, but every night she’d smash the barrier again to get to the young rhinos. I loved that. And now that I am here, approaching two years, I love being in the bush with them. Everything is so much simpler here, though it’s primitive and can be a struggle. It makes me appreciate everything I have. In Europe, life is easier, but you take it for granted.”

Midlife Volunteers

Fast friends: volunteers taking a break from work and meeting on the fabled “Rock” at Wildlife ACT camp, IMfolozi National Park in KwaZuluNatal, South Africa.

Kerry N., 56 years old, Tasmania, Australia:

“I’m two years out of an eight year relationship. I discovered my ex was living a double or should I say, triple life, with relationships all over the globe. Not only was he cheating on me, he made me feel like a fool. Like I was the one who was crazy! It was the classic “gas lighting.” But I am older now and wiser, and I’ve managed to survive.

I want my new life to be filled with color, fun and experiences. I want to know and love myself. I started with Africa, coming here as a midlife volunteer because of a near death experience I had more than 30 years ago – before any relationship troubles. It’s something I’ve never been able to shake off.

In that twilight space years ago, between life and death, I was in a tunnel on a dirt road. Along the road, there were brightly dressed African women, wearing reds and orange. The women were singing, chanting and jumping. It wasn’t happy singing. It was something else. Maybe they were telling me it wasn’t time for me to die. The image has stayed with me. I am here because of them.”

 

What is your soul aching to do? If you’d like to learn more about overcoming your fears and honoring who you really are, consider joining SAS Cofounder Liza Caldwell in 2019 when she returns to Africa to lead a small group of women to Cape Town, Johannesburg, and the Bush. The Asambe Tour (Zulu for “Let’s go!”) will be dedicated to self discovery and adventure and will include such highlights as Soweto, Robben Island, Table Mountain, and safari. Particularly special will be the unique opportunity to live and be with South African women and leaders as they share historical insights and the local ways to nature treks, cultural fourrees, wine tastings, braais (barbecques), and yoga in the wild. If you’d like to be considered for the group, please read more here.

 

credit: weheartit.com

Your 3 Most Important Financial Steps AFTER Divorce

Did you know that female senior citizens are 80 percent more likely to live in poverty than males? I found that sobering statistic and others about women, retirement, and money in this March 3, 2017, New York Times article. As a divorced (or divorcing) woman, wouldn’t you appreciate a road map so you don’t spend your “golden years” being broke?

My clients freak out at the thought that one day they might have to rely on their children or other family members for money. To avoid that, they want to know what they should be doing, what are the most important financial steps after divorce.

I’ll cut right to the chase: the most important practice is to create a plan for how not to run out of money. This practice involves three critical steps.

Step #1: Secure What’s Yours and Protect What You Have

After your divorce is final, the last thing you feel like doing is more financial tasks, I know. But now that you are independent, there are important steps you must complete. Failure to do so could cost you a lot of money.

Case in point: I was managing a brokerage account for a divorced client who was waiting on her ex-husband to complete paperwork in order to transfer half of his retirement assets to her. Because it wasn’t his priority to meet his ex-wife at the Fidelity office to sign papers, it took over a year for those assets to transfer to her ownership. I calculated that the delay cost her over $12,000. Why? Because her ex-husband had his retirement plan sitting in a conservative portfolio that wasn’t growing much due to the large bond exposure. Had that money been invested in the same manner that I had managed her brokerage account, her individual retirement account (IRA) would have been worth $12,000 more!

Elsewhere, it’s important that you protect what you have by updating the beneficiaries on your accounts. If you were to die, you’d probably prefer your money go directly to your kids or siblings instead of your ex-husband, right?

You don’t necessarily need an attorney to help you with most post-divorce steps. You may want to consult with a certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA) or follow a post-divorce checklist like the one I provide my clients and financial students. (More on that soon.)

Step #2: Pay Your Bills and Pay Yourself

The mortgage, property tax, utilities, Internet, cell phone …those darn, pesky bills! If we don’t have enough money each month to pay our bills in full, sometimes interest accrues on our credit cards. I teach women how to reverse that situation. Instead of paying income to the credit card companies, consider how you might pay income to yourself! That may sound strange, but each month you should have an expense line in your budget in which you are paying yourself, typically in the form of contributions to a tax-deferred retirement plan. You want that money to be invested so it builds up over time to replace your child support or alimony (assuming you receive one or both) or your employment income when you are too old to work.

Tip: Many women don’t know this but spousal support is considered “qualifying income” so even if you don’t work outside the home or you work part-time, you can still make contributions to an individual retirement account (IRA) and in many cases reduce your tax bill.

Is a budget really important? The short and long answer is YES. If you don’t know how much you spend, you don’t know how much it costs you to live now or in the future. And thus, you have no idea if you will or will not run out of money later on.

If you have never created a budget, don’t despair. You can search the web for various templates that you could use. I will also tell you about another resource in a moment.

Step #3: Invest Your Money Now to Create Financial Abundance Later

Once you start building a nest egg for your future, you need to invest the money so it at least keeps up with inflation. We don’t like to think about it, but it will cost a heck of a lot more money to pay for necessities and luxuries in the future than it does today. That’s because the cost of goods and services rise over time. It’s called inflation.

You need to spend years building a nest egg that is large enough so you can withdraw money each month to pay your bills. Think social security will cover you? Please keep reading.

Many divorced women I encounter are overwhelmed by the choices they have when it comes to investing. There are robo-advisors on the Internet, people trying to sell you insurance as an investment, and financial advisors on every corner. If you don’t have a solid foundation of financial literacy, how are you going to evaluate which financial or investment advisor is right for you?

If all of this sounds complicated to you, it’s okay. It did for many, now high functioning, financially savvy women I know, too. What they did to turn their lives around was to frame this new chapter in their lives as a start over. And then they got educated.

You can do this too in a number of ways. You could buy a book. You could have a smart, patient friend teach you – if you are comfortable with that. You could also hire a professional to help you take responsibility for your financial empowerment. Or you can take my online course, for less cost than it is to visit a lawyer for an hour.

Based on what I know women need in their divorce recovery to become financially literate and to move forward to plan and protect their lives, I teach you the language of investing and the right actions involved.

Through more than 2 dozen educational modules (often done in easy to absorb videos), my course, How Not to Run Out of Money: Recently-Divorced Woman’s Guide to Financial Independence, is designed to show you how to do everything I’ve mentioned above, step by step:

  • Secure What’s Yours and Protect What You Have
  • Pay Your Bills and Pay Yourself
  • How to Invest Your Money Now for Abundance later

In this course, you will learn how to create a budget (using a template I developed for women and considerate of women’s expenses and needs) and how to use it; you’ll learn if you can rely on social security in the future (I have a module helping you understand social security and what you must know). All this so that by the end of the course, you’ll know if you need to increase your income (and by how much) or cut your expenses. Or, if you are fortunate, you’ll conclude that your divorce settlement is large enough to cover your expenses throughout your lifetime.

Knowledge is power, isn’t it? Let’s put your growing knowledge and past experience to use protecting you and your future

Laurie Itkin is a financial advisor, certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA) and the Amazon bestselling author of “Every Woman Should Know Her Options.” In her comprehensive online course she provides affordable education for divorcing and divorced women. You can write Laurie or learn more about her by visiting TheOptionsLady.com.

 

Full disclosure: SAS for Women feels so strongly about this course, having tried it out and learned through it, that we officially endorse it and wish you to know that SAS receives a nominal fee if you purchase the class, too.

 

Woman in satin slip with no rings

When Do You Sell Your Wedding Ring? And How?

Frustrated … or ecstatically done? Maybe you are strapped and desperate for cash? No matter the scenario, you are in good company if you are wondering, “When …how …. where do I sell my wedding ring?”

There might be an urgency to your question. You are probably yearning to put the past behind you … TO MOVE ON. Or, and let’s tell it as it is, there’s often the practical real–life necessity of “Let me get some value from that *#[email protected]!*& thing!” All these feelings and needs we know well both as divorce coaches and women who have been right where you are. But it is your needs and feelings that must be genuinely considered … if you are really, truly interested in the right answer.

Are you interested in the right answer? When do you sell your wedding ring?

Then hold on before you start fantasizing about the how, where, and how much you will get for it, because it’s worth taking you through the paces that bring you to the question.

Selling Your Wedding Ring: The Emotional Component

First, ask yourself these two questions:

  1. Are you really ready to part with your wedding ring?
  2. Are you really done with your relationship?

If you answered YES without hesitation, then by all means scroll down to “The Practical Steps of Selling Your Wedding Ring.” If you paused, then keep reading. Your wedding ring is of course, a symbol of your union or what your union was. It represents (and possibly, might still) all your hopes and dreams. Your Happily Ever After.

Have you really done everything to save — which means work — on your marriage?

No doubt you’ve done some things. But to make sure, check out our suggestions in 36 Things to Do if You are Thinking about Divorce just to make sure you’re not embarking out of haste or making this enormous life decision from an explosive or depressed place. It’s not easy to divorce, nor should it be. You’ll want to be sure (well, as much as you can be — refer to step number 29 in 36 Things.)

Already Divorced?

You may no longer be married, but still holding on, holding on to that ring, the jingle, the jangle, the pearl necklace, the pin he gave you from your first trip away together. They are all kept safe in that special satin-lined box you keep hidden in your lingerie drawer. You might be feeling guilty, or simply not ready to say goodbye to them. Because on some level it would mean saying goodbye to your dreams. You are in mourning, and Sister, mourning is a complicated thing.

  1. Are you still, or just now starting to come to terms with everything you have lost?
  2. Are you still feeling the pain and trying to understand what’s brought you to being single all over again?

Make no apologies – to yourself or to anyone else! Just understand. This stage of divorce recovery is fraught with people wanting the best for you, wanting you to “get over it,” but not quite understanding you. Indeed, YOU may not be understanding you right now. Allow yourself to be where you are. For if there’s one thing you’ve earned now on the other side of the divorce paperwork, it’s the right to be calling your own shots. If you are not ready to part with your ring, DO NOT. Take a few steps on our divorce recovery stairway and learn what else you can do to heal and begin to live again.

The Practical Steps of Selling Your Wedding Ring

Alright, alright, you say, you don’t want to hear any more about leave-taking or mourning. In fact you skipped those paras because you’ve got bigger fish to fry, like paying off your legal fees, the credit card debt, or taking that longed-for trip to Phuket. You’ve always heard that you could flip your ring … or that “Jewelry is a good investment.” So surely this ring that has kept you lassoed in place this long has got to be worth something? Right?

 

Where do you sell your wedding ring? How much can you get?

First, let’s get clear: it’s likely not your wedding ring that is worth selling so much as it is your engagement ring. But here’s the bracing cold fact behind that: the value of your jewelry, and in particular your engagement ring, is likely not worth what you think it is. Yes, we know. We hate being the bearer of bad news … someone probably paid a lot for it. But the price paid for your ring reflected the design, the brand, the artistry, and time involved in creating it. When you go to resell, buyers are only interested in the value of the stones and metals. Not your ring in toto.

Sigh, if you like. You are safe with us. But then be smart and savvy about trying to get as much for those stones and metal as you can!

Follow these steps to sell your ring

1) Have your ring graded

While we are all for supporting your village tradesman and local economy, if you walk into your local jeweler you are hostage to what s/he says your diamonds and gold are and what they may be worth. The best is to have your ring graded by a GIA or IGI-certified jeweler so you learn and document the real characteristics of the stones and metal before you try to sell. (Note: the proper word is “graded” and not “appraised.” An appraisal is used for insurance purposes only and is not a resell market price.) Learning the true facts about your ring is the first step to understanding its value.

 

2) Decide what is worth your time

Once you know the size, the cut, the color, and the clarity of your diamond, you are better prepared to figure out what is worth your while. Maybe if the stones are not as valuable as you’d hope, you will do nothing or you’ll repurpose them into something you actually like? Or you will sell them to the jeweler or pawnshop that will give you the most for them? If the latter, shop around for the best offer. If your center stone is 1.0 carat (ct.) or more, it’s in your interest to find a legitimate resource for reselling. Go ahead and search the web or use a well-reputed jeweler you know.  You are now a savvy seller looking for the best deal.

 

You may be on the OTHER side of the divorce document, but life after divorce still means finding your way and handling all the practical, logistical, and emotional things that keep landing in your lap. Reach out to SAS for a free consultation on how we can support your prioritizing what comes first, what comes next, and what will foster your most beautiful, next chapter.

 

 

 

A woman in midlife smiling while standing out of doors.

Life After Divorce? It’s Going to Be Better Than You Imagined!

Saying goodbye to a marriage is tough. When you get a divorce your entire life changes. From finances, to parenting, to even loneliness, there are a lot of hurdles to get over, but in the end, remember this: you are getting a divorce for a reason, and life moving forward, your life after divorce, is going to be better than you imagined it could be.

Remember Why You Are Getting a Divorce

In order to move forward and enjoy your new life as a single woman, it is important to remember why you and your spouse are separating in the first place.  Now, we are not talking about dwelling on all the bad stuff and getting stuck in the past, but giving yourself permission to look forward to your future without your mate.

When Janice was newly divorced she concentrated so much on what she was missing (someone to talk her day over with; someone to share her hopes and dreams with; someone to help pay the bills –and take out the trash), that she began to romanticize the marriage she had loved.

“Lucky for me I had a good friend who shook away those “fake memories” and reminded me of the reasons why my husband and I split.  Despite my faulty memory, all was not rosy in our relationship and if I was ever going to find the kind of fulfilling marriage I dreamed about, I was going to have to move past that relationship and open myself up to another, hopefully better, one.”

Until you acknowledge what went wrong in your marriage, not only will you thwart your efforts at new happiness, but you will set the stage for a repeat performance and doom your next relationship to failure too.

Life After Divorce Does Offer Some Benefits 

Being alone for a while (even a long while) isn’t a bad thing. Many women discover life after divorce to be a freeing experience. Even when money is tight, and the struggles of single parenting are exhausting, the benefits of being alone can be more than worth the downsides you experience. Here are just a few things single, liberated women have reported after their divorce:

  1. Peace.  Life pre-divorce can be chaotic and stressful. While separating may be hard on both of you, staying together is often worse. If your marriage has dissolved into fits of anger and frustration, going your separate ways can often restore peace to your home – and your soul. Leaving a marriage may add some temporary chaos to your days, but once the split is final, your life can resume at a more peaceful level.
  2. Living Life for Themselves. For many women, divorce offers them the chance to concentrate on themselves for a change. Tending to be caregivers and “fixers” in a relationship, women often shortchange themselves when stuck in a bad relationship. Once they break free of the marriage, they allow themselves the opportunity to seek a job change; new hobby; lifestyle change; etc.
  3. Income. “While my income was half what it has been when I was married, I soon discovered that without my spouse’s spending, my income was enough to give me what I really wanted – peace of mind,” says Diane. Always a thrifty person, she discovered that living in a smaller apartment and driving an older car didn’t bother her at all. “I suddenly had the freedom to use my money the way I saw fit and that was exhilarating!”
  4. Less Mess.  For Pam, life after divorce meant finally having a clean house. “My ex was a real slob. Once he was gone I soon discovered that my house remained clean and I loved it. Not that a messy home isn’t worth the right partner, but having to constantly clean up after someone you don’t like much anymore sure wasn’t worth it.”
  5. More Time. Married women (especially those with kids) are expected to do it all: work; raise a family; keep a tidy home; volunteer; do all the errands; and more. For some, leaving a marriage actually offers them more free time. Listen to what Renee had to say. “I was terrified of being on my own with the kids. How was I going to get it all done when I was struggling before my divorce to manage my life? But once my husband moved out, I began to see how much I had done for him (and how little he did for me). My schedule didn’t change all that much, and then the weekend came and the kids went to spend it with their dad. I had not had a weekend free to do whatever I wanted in years! I know I am lucky because my ex-husband is a great dad and takes our kids virtually every weekend. This gives me the chance to catch up on things around the house; take a nap; or even go out with friends. The best thing about my divorce: I have more free time to myself.
  6. Becoming Friends Again. In some cases, living apart can help couples become friends again. Just because you aren’t married does not mean you have to be enemies. This can be especially important for those with children.

Getting a divorce isn’t meant as a way to ditch your responsibilities and start a whole new life. But, it can take a chaotic life and make it easier to manage.  For some women, moving beyond their marriage offers them the chance to pursue their dreams; travel the world; or simply relax again. Life isn’t meant to be spent in constant chaos. When it is time for a divorce, don’t consider it a failure, but rather a learning experience. Take what lessons you can from your marriage and your divorce and move forward towards a new beginning. Don’t wallow in defeat, but rather race toward victory. After all, in your life after divorce you are free to pursue any future you want. So get out there and enjoy yourself! You deserve it.

Whether you are considering divorce or already navigating the experience and aftermath of divorce, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do divorce alone. Smart women around the world have chosen SAS For Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of Divorce.