Friday, 31 March 2017

Good dads -- the real game changer | Dr. Meg Meeker | TEDxTraverseCity

Not directly related to divorce, but certainly an indirect endorsement of keeping both parents in the lives of the kids... in praise of Dads!

Monday, 27 March 2017

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Tricks for Combatting Procrastination | Tim Ferriss

Procrastination can be a major barrier to making much needed change in our lives. 

Some wise words here from Tim Ferriss... What do you think?

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Do Something!

An inspirational message... starts out business focussed but certainly applicable to us all... make every morning count in the journey to thrive!

Saturday, 18 March 2017

The Divorced Lifestyle Design Philosophy

A little more on the Divorced Lifestyle Design philosophy, why we believe we can help you, and why we want to as well!

How can we help you?

Find more videos like this one over at the Divorced Lifestyle Design YouTube Channel!

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

10 Steps to Improve Your Personal Relationships

Psychology studies show that, in the long term, the most important thing in your life is your personal relationships. More important than your circumstances, hardships or successes, stuff you own or places you go, good quality relationships increase your resilience, your happiness and protect you from depression and other related “afflictions”.
This can only be said about mature, fulfilling relationships, which we define based on one principle: “win-win”. In “win-win” relationships (be it friendships or romantic ones), all parties bring their best and leave out the worst. They focus on increasing the value of the partnership, the time spent together, the amount of sharing and avoid, conscientiously, pointing fingers and turning each interaction into a competition.
They say that you don’t get to choose your parents and siblings; however, you get to choose your friends and lovers. Here are 10 steps towards improving the quality of your relationships which can help you find what you need to lead a fulfilled life.

1. Assess your self-esteem level and decide which kind of relationships you want.

Those based on sharing, learning, fun, empathy or listening? Or those meant to increase your value in the eyes of your community? Generally speaking, the most fulfilling relationships are those which are not meant to regulate your self-esteem level.

2. Decide what you value most in life as a person.

Finding out what you like and value, what is important for your growth and happiness will help you look for the same things in the people you bond with.

3.Evaluate every relationship in your life at this moment.

Give points to each of them in the “value department”, based on what you decided that matters for you. It may benefit you to give points to those relationships that help you stay true to yourself and don’t force you to pretend you’re someone else, are emotionally balanced and above average when it comes to the learning potential.

4. Based on your assessment, try and get rid (delicately!) of everything that consumes you emotionally

or influences your self-esteem by lowering it. Without being blunt, avoid relationships that favor conflict and nurture those that do you good.

5. Increase the frequency of interactions

with people that make you feel good. At home or work, look for individuals that raise your energy levels, give you reasons to smile and be optimistic.

6. “Water” your relationships.

Once you streamlined them, it’s time to work on them. They are, joke or not, like flowers, so focus on their development and take steps towards nurturing them. Focus on their quality in particular.

7. Give first, and expect very little, if nothing, in return.

In relationships, many people tend to ask themselves the same question: “what do I get from it?”. Giving first may be interpreted as consuming – in terms of time and emotional investment, but the benefits are unexpected. Behavior breeds behavior.

8. Don’t argue, but learn to compromise smartly.

Smart compromise involves shared responsibility for the future of the relationship and assertiveness. When everybody understands the part they play in their relationships’ evolution, the focus shifts from arguments to finding a common ground.

9. Share your best.

Knowledge, experience, emotions. Be it books, music, places you went or things you did that others might find interesting, many relationships are based on shared experiences, rather than anything else.

10. Keep an open mind

and embrace the good and different you see in others. Chance is the others see the same in you.
These ten steps are just a hint of what you could do towards improving your relationships. Follow them or not, but try to find out what suits you in particular. Remember that human interactions are, in a way, like wine: they get better in time. However, this only happens if you work on them.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Britain has highest divorce rate in EU

Britain has the highest divorce rate in the European Union, a survey reveals today.
The number of divorces throughout the EU is on the increase, with an average of 1.8 divorces for every 1,000 people.

But in Britain and in Finland the rate is 2.8 divorces per 1,000, compared with just 0.6 per 1,000 in Luxembourg.

But while the divorce rate slightly increased during the 1990s, the rate of births outside marriage has risen sharply - more than one child in four was born outside marriage in the EU in 1999, compared with fewer than one in five in 1989.

The figures vary widely between member states - ranging from just 4% of births being outside marriage in Greece to 55% in Sweden. Britain is well above the 26% EU average, at 38.8%.

The 500-page survey, compiled by the EU's Eurostat statistical office in Luxembourg, reveals that total health spending by governments in the EU is on average less than half the rate in America - and the rate in Britain lower than anywhere in the EU apart from Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Greece.

Expressed in terms of Purchasing Power Standards (PPS) the figures put the EU average health expenditure per head of population at PPS 1,768, compared with a national low of PPS 1,167 in Greece and a high of PPS 2,424 in Germany. The UK stands at PPS 1,461, with America recording PPS 2,794.

The survey shows that in 1999 Britain boasted 40.4% mobile phone ownership - the number of mobile phone subscribers per 100 inhabitants - compared with only 9.8% in 1995.
The EU's highest mobile phone coverage is in Finland, at 66.8% but is only 28.6% in Germany. In America the figure is 31.7%, with 45% mobile phone ownership in Japan.


Saturday, 11 March 2017

9 Ways to Actually Adopt the Better Habits You Know Will Help You Succeed

Every year, we set goals for ourselves, often called resolutions. What we actually envision is a brighter future, brought about by the desired change in our daily routine or habits. You may want to lose weight, increase your client base or stop smoking. This means you have to alter an existing behavior and insert a new one in its place.

Change is always difficult, but it can be done, with a little bit of willpower. Try these simple steps to get you on track to better habits.

1. Decide what is important and why.

What is your motivation for wanting to develop a new habit? Will it improve your life? Envision the outcome if you don’t make the change. Then decide how you are going to make the change. If you want more clients, make more contacts; if you want to get more done in the day, get up an hour earlier; if you want to be healthier, instill an exercise regimen into the daily routine. Set a goal and then give yourself a timeline to complete it.

2. Make the habit reasonable.

If a new habit is too difficult to maintain, mostly likely it will fall by the wayside. Choose a realistic new habit that you desire and know you can accomplish. Start small, like cutting back on the number of cups of coffee you drink each day, or making one lunch date a week with a potential referral source.

3. Choose one habit at a time.

Trying to change several habits at once is too much for anyone. Instead, concentrate on one behavioral change until it becomes routine, then add a second one. If you’re overwhelmed by too many changes, you most likely won’t accomplish any of them.

4. Give yourself time.

It takes time to change a habit. According to a study by University College London health psychology professor Phillippa Lally, it takes more than two months, or 66 days, for a new habit to take hold.

5. Don’t expect perfection.

You’re bound to slip up one or more times as you work your way towards your new behavior. Be patient with yourself and accept the slip. Then recommit to the new habit.

6. Engage others.

Being held accountable for a new behavior is a solid way to reinforce the behavior. Tell others what you’re trying to do, and let them help if they offer. Don’t get angry if they remind you of your goal now and again. This may be just what you need to stay on track. You may even motivate them to make some goals too.

7. Be consistent.

Consistency is the key to establishing a new habit. Do the same thing day after day to set it firmly in your mind and routine. If possible, set a schedule for the new behavior, and stick to it. Be accountable, either by tracking the new habit on a chart or interfacing with others.

8. Replace a bad habit with a good one.

To ditch a bad habit, try replacing it with a better one. If your desk features a candy jar, replace the contents with healthy snacks, like nuts. Or if you like to stay up late watching TV, read in bed instead.

9. Build in a reward.

Set a standard of behavior and offer yourself a reward at the end of 30 or 60 days. But make sure the reward does not include the old behavior. For example, don’t celebrate with a big meal if your new habit it eating less at lunchtime.
Stick with your goal and you’ll accomplish the changes you desire. In the words of American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn, “Success is a few simple disciplines, practiced every day.”

Thursday, 9 March 2017

7 Signs of a Healthy Post-Divorce Relationship

Relationships are fun. And now that we have our kids, and our independence, we can be more intentional and clear about what we want in our next relationship.

Divorce is hard. Dating after divorce is tricky too, and I’ve found some things I think are good indicators of how whole a person is, and how ready they are for a healthy relationship. Sure, your dating profile says something like, “Let’s be friends first and see where that takes us.” But most people I meet are really hoping that friendship takes us to the next wave of affection. I think we are mostly looking to me found and appreciated by another person, while having the opportunity to appreciate them back. We want to become the most fantastic cheerleader for their hopes and dreams and we expect that positive affirmation in return.
We don’t need a relationship. We want one. We are fine alone. We have found our own way out of the desert of depression and despair. And now, standing strong and alone again, we are ready to dip our toes into the idea of being loved and loving again. It is a huge risk. And some people can’t get over it. Their divorce is still too painful, or their relationship with their ex is still too volatile. They are really not ready for a relationship.
If, however you begin to think your shit is sufficiently together to date again, some new boundaries are in order. And here is what I’ve found to be the indicators of a healthy start.

1. The relationship with the ex is business-like and drama-free.

If your potential partner is still dramatically engaged or enraged at their ex partner, watch out. You are likely to take some of the “stand-in” damage for the anger that needs a place to dissipate. Irritation and conflict can always arise. But pay attention to how this person deals with these setbacks or conflicts. It’s likely this is how any future conflict with you might evolve, as well. Are they able to articulate what the problem is? Can they negotiate a solution and then let it go? The emotional baggage from divorce is huge. And it’s tough to get through all the processing that needs to happen before we can cut it loose and be free of the burden of our ex.

2. The other person puts their kids ahead of the relationship.

In my experience, I find a potential partner who has had kids (they can be older or younger than mine) is more likely to be accepting and accommodating of my relationship to my kids. When my kids call, they come first. Sure, it’s an interruption, and sure it puts the “special friend” in a secondary role, but it’s clear to me that my kids emotional and physical well-being is much more important than me having a girlfriend. At least at this point in my life, while they are still in school, and still very much under my influence. I have a deep respect for my role model as a dad, and as a man. I am showing both my daughter and my son how a man acts in the world. Even under duress, I am showing how I can remain calm, and make strong and positive decisions. And always, my kids come first. Especially in the early stages of a new relationship.

3. In meeting the kids, there are no major hangups or obvious attachment issues.

Divorce traumatizes all of the family members. And often this trauma causes us to revert to old and unhealthy defense mechanisms. And of course, as a divorced, and now-single parent, I am going to do everything I can to take care of my kids needs. BUT… this has to be carefully done. I have seen both men and women who were WAY to enmeshed with their children. Maybe the kid was a brat who was completely undisciplined. Or perhaps the child was overly shy and withdrawn, folding themselves into the parent. At younger ages some of this behavior is acceptable. But as the child ages, and reaches the end of elementary school they should not need to be coddled or babied, because the other parent is trying to make up for some loss. The single parent cannot make up for the divorce. But everyone survives and moves on. Both the kids and the parents need to return to healthy boundaries and healthy communication styles, so that everyone can grow up, and let go of the stigma and shame of the divorce.

4. Conversations about divorce, parenting, or relationships are not tense.

In early stages of a relationship, most of the time you want to hear, “What happened?” And this opportunity to share your story and hear the divorce story of the other person, is a great time to listen for their repose. How have they accepted their own responsibility for the divorce. Even if the divorce was the result of some infidelity, have they been able to move beyond the anger? The best approach to the ex is to live and let be. Focus on the kids. Walking away from a marriage is hard work, and the way someone tells their divorce story is important. Listen.

5. Clarity of intention and honest expression of affection and desire.

You’d think that if someone is dating again that they are ready for a relationship. But that’s often not the case. You’d even imagine, that someone who puts up a dating profile online, and who talks about what they want in their next relationship, probably has some intention of being in a relationship. BUT, you might be wrong. I have been on quite a few dates where the woman had no idea what they wanted. I had one woman, who I connected with and had just spent nearly two hours talking to, tell me in the parking lot as she was getting into her car, “I can tell you at least three reasons I’m not right for you.” She didn’t, but she said she knew she had no real idea of what she wanted in a relationship. If you’re dating, be clear on if you want to “date” or have a relationship. I’ve heard that some people are into casual dating and casual sex. That’s never worked for me, but if that’s your thing, make sure that’s what the other person is saying as well. If the person cannot give  you a good idea of what they are looking for, how their next relationship might look or feel, they may not be ready to be in a relationship. And if you can’t articulate what you are looking for, if your vague, or simply lonely, you might want to keep working on yourself, and your approach to relationships before jumping right back into one.

6. Alcohol or tv are not constant sources of entertainment or escape.

Drinking together can be fun, but it shouldn’t be a lifestyle choice, unless you are both into it. If the person doesn’t really open up until a glass of wine or two, you might be rubbing up against someone who has a hard time expressing themselves. In moderation, as a celebration lifter, a few drinks on the weekend are no problem. But if it’s every single night, and the glass of whatever becomes like the cup of coffee in the morning, a necessary lubricant, there is probably an issue there. And I’ve seen TV become the same sort of numbing or escaping addiction. I went on a few dates with a woman who professed an addiction to reality TV shows. She also turned around and fought with me about the virtues of TV overall, and how TV was no less interactive than reading a book or playing a game with someone. Um…. Yeah.  Escapism should not be a common theme. You want clear and present as the normal relating condition between you and another consenting adult.

7. Affection that moves into sexual relations doesn’t change the overall tone of the friendship.

Of course, you’d like to be friends first. And if the chemistry is working, there may be a pull towards the bedroom. But of course you need to know that if you are looking for a relationship, sex, while important, is not the most important aspect of a relationship. You are going to be spending a lot of time with this person, out of the bedroom doing other things, and you’d be better of seeing if your “out of the sack” experience is good too. Don’t get me wrong, a good sexual chemistry is a powerful motivator. But don’t let the sex cloud your understanding of who the person is, and what other things you like to do together. You can’t screw all the time.
And initiation of sex shouldn’t cause major shifts in the relationship. You’re friendship should still remain a focus in all of the stages of a relationship. Perhaps that’s part of what led us to divorce, we stopped dating our partners and began to take them for granted. We stopped cheerleading and became more of a negotiator, or even antagonist.
Listen to yourself as you talk about the relationship as well. When you are describing your relationship to a friend, notice the words you use. How do you describe this new interest? What are the highlights that you are proud to share about this person?

7 Tips for Replacing Bad Habits with Positive Habits

How to create a happy life by implementing "The Slight Edge" philosophy

Whether it’s smoking cigarettes, being late, drinking soft drinks, blaming others or biting our nails, we all have personal and professional bad habits that we would like to break. As much as we despise our bad habits, it can be challenging to make these habits things of the past. So, what is the solution? I have found the best way to erase a bad habit is to replace it with a positive habit.

First, think of our habits as a cycle. A habit is something you do without thinking. And, there are two kinds of habits: Those that serve you and those that do not serve you. Brushing your teeth is a habit that serves you; biting your nails is one that doesn’t. Thinking things through for yourself serves you; blindly accepting everything you read online or hear through the gossip grapevine doesn’t serve you. Be aware of your philosophy, which creates your attitude, which creates your actions, which creates your results, which create your life. A positive philosophy turns into a positive attitude, which turns into positive actions, which turns into positive results, which turns into a positive lifestyle. The small decisions are easy, and when you add them up, they can have an enormous effect on your life. This cycle is hard to maintain, but I go into more depth in my book, The Slight Edge
The cycle to create positive habits can be accomplished through these seven powerful actions:

1. Show up. 

If you’ll just commit to showing up, that’s half the battle right there. By simply showing up you can rise above half of the population in any circumstance.

2. Show up consistently. 

Keep showing up when others fade out. According to Woody Allen, 80 percent of success is showing up. That’s a philosophy I subscribe to wholeheartedly -- but I would add two words: 80 percent of success is showing up every day. As essential as it is to show up, it is consistency that greatly multiplies its power. Showing up consistently is where the magic happens.

3. Cultivate a positive outlook. 

See the glass as overflowing. There are days when I wake up and I’m in a funk. I might not even know why, but life feels heavy and depressing, and I just don’t want to get out of the funk. When this happens, the first thing I do is take inventory of my blessings. According to positive psychologists, a habit of gratitude is one of the most common traits in consistently happier people. 

4. Be committed for the long haul. 

You’ve probably seen those weight loss and workout programs that promise to change your life and create “a better you” in 90 days. I’m not saying that you don’t get results, but here is the problem with a 90-day program: It doesn’t give you enough time to build up a new belief level in yourself that you can continue once the 90 days are over. Instead, think of farmers. They know they have to wait a full season to reap their harvests. In our post-industrial world, where so much of everyday life is accessible through the click of a mouse, it’s easier than ever to forget that.

5. Cultivate a burning desire backed by faith, not hoping or wishing, but knowing. 

A burning desire backed by faith simply means deeply, passionately wanting to get somewhere and knowing -- not hoping, not wishing, but knowing -- you’re going to get there. In other words, there has to be congruence between your desire and your faith.

6. Be willing to pay the price. 

Whatever the dream or goal, there is a price you’ll need to pay. Sometimes that means giving something up. It may be something as simple as giving up a type of junk food you’re attached to, for the sake of your health, or something as subtle as giving up your right to be right, or your habit of exerting control over conversations for the sake of a relationship.

7. Do the things you’ve committed to doing, even when no one else is watching.

I have found the best way to erase a bad habit is to replace it with a positive mental or physical habit. So, the next time you find yourself wanting to partake in that same bad habit remember you can change your negative habit into a positive one and the result will be a happier life for you and those around you.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Stop Playing Victim and Thrive After Divorce

The Victim Mode

During and after a divorce many women fall prey into the victim mode. While in victim mode a woman will not be able to thrive after divorce. Many women do not even realize that they are doing this and do not see how much harm they are causing themselves. By continuing to play victim, the woman is telling the world to treat her as such.

By continuing to play victim you are dis-empowering yourself to create the type of life that you crave. Unknowingly, you are continuing to attract more of what you don’t want. Once you begin to empower yourself by concentrating on creating a better life, you will begin to thrive after divorce.

Every marriage and divorce has a story. When people hear that you are divorcing they begin to tell you all kinds of horror stories and will want to hear all the juicy details of what happened to you. Being a good storyteller, you go into drama mode and begin retelling all of the nasty things that ex said or did. Soon you realize that you have an audience ready and willing to listen to everything.

You may enjoy the attention you are getting and feel justified in your rage. The more you tell your story of how he did you wrong, the more of a victim you are making yourself out to be. People feel sorry for you. Subconsciously, you are looking to others for guidance, empathy, support and your self-worth.

Regardless of what your ex did – even to the extreme of severe physical violence – you are allowing him to control your current reality by continually living in the past as you tell your story over and over again. For help in getting over domestic violence, contact your local domestic violence center to get professional help. If your story involves your ex cheating on you or just up and leaving, speak to a select few including a divorce coach or therapist.

Ask yourself what is the cost of remaining a victim. Do you want people to perceive you as needy and clingy? Do you want to live your life as a bitter and angry person? You do have the power right now to change your life and to create a life that is full of peace and happiness. You REALLY can THRIVE after divorce! Which life are you choosing?

Consider the costs of remaining a victim. Do you want to live your life as a bitter and angry person? Is that how you ant to be seen? If you have children, is victim-hood what you want them to model? How to you want to be seen? Do you realize that as a victim you have no power to change your life? Remaining a victim is a very bleak picture.

3 Steps to Thrive after Divorce

1. Take responsibility for your life. It may be easy to blame everything on your ex or on other circumstances. It is important for you to take stock and see where you made mistakes in your marriage. No one is perfect. Maybe you began taking your ex for granted, disrespected or embarrassed him. Take responsibility for your part in the divorce – regardless how small of a part you believe you played. Be responsible for how you are living your life today, and you will begin to thrive after divorce. Take responsibility for what is happening right now, your finances, your social life, your children, your attitude and the every word that comes out of your mouth!

2. Forgive your ex. Your first inclination might be there is no way I can ever forgive him for the way he made me feel – or for what he did to me. Forgiving a person does not mean you condone what they did. It is simply a promise to yourself to not allow their actions to continue to destroy and control you. It allows you to thrive after divorce. Do you think that he really cares if you forgive him or not? Whom is your resentment and anger hurting? It is hurting you. Love yourself enough to forgive him for being a jerk and get on with your life.

3. Do something that makes you feel amazing. Ideas include taking an arts and crafts class, learning a new skill or sport, taking a cruise, reading a good book or volunteering at a hospital or local charity. If you have children at home, do something that you can enjoy together. Talk with them and let them help you decide what to do such as going to sporting events, on a picnic or a drive through the country. To thrive after divorce means to try new things and choosing to be happy in your life as you create the life of your dreams.


Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Lessons I Have Learned Post Divorce

Today I am reflecting on some of the lessons I have learned during and post divorce.

Happiness is a choice
This may seem obvious to some of you, but when you are caught up in a continual cycle of drama you may not be able to see that removing yourself from a negative situation is your choice. I have learned to remove myself from negative people and negative situations that don’t have a positive impact on my life. In nearly all situations I ask myself “does this make me happy?” or “do I feel good about this?” if the answer is “No” then it’s not something I pursue. You can use the ‘joy or annoy’ method! Bin the things, situations and people that annoy, keep the ones that bring you joy.
Forgiveness is required to move forward
Right now this may seem impossible for you and admittedly I still find it hard to fully forgive my ex and his (now) wife for turning my world upside-down and putting me in a very difficult situation. Not only did their actions affect me emotionally and mentally, being coerced in to bankruptcy and denied rights to an equal divorce has continued to affect my life and financial situation for nearly 5 years. 
However, I am reminded of the quote “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die“ ~ Buddha. I must accept that I will never receive an apology for what they put me through and that by holding on to resentment, the only person getting hurt is me! 
The UK legal system is flawed
Maybe I didn’t select the right representation or maybe I was just a small fish in a big pond. If my solicitor had told me right from the start that I would get nothing from my ex due to my bankruptcy then I NEVER would have pursued him to pay my mum back what she was owed from the house. If I had known that he would come after my business/livelihood and that legally he was entitled to, I would have taken steps to protect it and myself. All in all it was a costly and emotionally damaging exercise where he kept everything and my mum only received a fraction of what she was due. I received nothing and still owe my dad for the cost of the divorce. If I could turn back the clock, my choice of solicitor and route to divorce would be completely different. My advice would be; do some research, select the right route to divorce for you and if going down the route of using a solicitor, choose someone you feel comfortable with.
Psychopaths exist outside of the movies
I have dated a psychopath, post divorce, and believe I may also have married one. I believe no decent human being would act in a malicious manner to intentionally hurt a vulnerable person.
It’s ok to ask for help
I fought for ages about seeking professional help. My defense was “I’m fine!”. On reflection, the early days of the split were when I needed help the most, over 4 years on I believe that this lack of professional help in the early stages has impacted on how I deal with my emotions now. Go get help and don’t be embarrassed about it!
Stress is a choice, depression is not
I choose to be self-employed, therefore I can choose whether to be stressed about work, deadlines or life in general. It is in my power to keep stress at a minimum level. For years I thought I thrived in stressful situations, procrastinating on projects and leaving it to the last minute to meet the deadline as working under pressure produced the best results... or so I thought! Having tried to lose weight for over 4 years and consistently putting it on, I am beginning to understand (and be educated on) the impact of stress on the body. Having been diagnosed with depression and ignoring this diagnosis I am now bigger than I have ever been, EVEN THOUGH I eat well and have 3 personal training sessions a week and complete my step goal each day. I have drastically changed some habits to reduce my stress levels and I am working on others. I may just have to succumb to the idea that all though mentally I feel ‘fine’, my body is telling me that I am depressed.
Acceptance is key
In order to move forward you must accept what has happened and learn to find peace with it. Some people may say ‘things happen for a reason’. I used to HATE it when people threw this cliché at me, but now I find myself saying it to others in times of emotional turmoil. I have accepted the role I played in the end of my marriage and have accepted that in order to have a happy life I must follow my own advice and forgive those who have caused me hurt.
Money isn’t everything
Going through bankruptcy alone and living off a small wage was a lesson I would never have wanted to learn in a million years! I was a high flyer in marketing, loved shopping and home-making... But shit happens and I dealt with it, day by day. I am still tarnished with the ‘bankruptcy brush’ as I can’t get a mortgage or write a cheque or get a credit card, but it has taught me that the important thing in life is not how much money is in the bank but how much love there is around you. My family, friends, pets and my home are among the MOST important things to me and I am truly grateful to have them in my life.
Choose your friends wisely
I learned very early on after my split that there are some friends who will be there no matter what, they’ll give you the truth even if it hurts because they care - hold on to them and don’t let them go, and there are some friends who stick around because they a) feel guilty b) are nosey c) love drama & gossip - avoid these at all costs! Delete them from social media, no need to be nasty or cause further drama, just be aware of who in your life makes a positive impact and who doesn’t.
Finally - Embrace change and all the lessons life throws at you!

Monday, 6 March 2017

From Surviving to Thriving

Days after my tsunami divorce, my mom turned to me and told me I would survive.
I actually got angry and responded rather strongly, “No, I will not survive. I will thrive. To do anything less is to remain his victim.”
I saw surviving as the bare minimum, the mere intake of breath and food in order to go through the motions of life. I refused to settle for that. I wanted more. It felt insurmountable, yet the vision and hope remained intact.
Inspired by Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, these goals can serve to help you navigate the challenging path after divorce and take you from merely surviving to thriving.
The first tier of goals are about your literal survival. In the beginning, it is enough to simply focus on your next breath. And then the one after that. The goal is to keep you alive and functioning. These physical needs must be addressed first before any further progress can be made.
The first priority is your immediate physical safety. If you have been a victim of domestic violence or if you have concerns that your ex may become violent, seek help. The National Domestic Abuse Hotline can help point you to resources in your area. If abuse has not occurred, but you have concerns, contact your local police department. In my case, they graciously offered to do periodic drive-bys during the first few scary weeks. 
Once your immediate safety has been secured, it is time to figure out your short-term or long-term housing. Consider all of your options carefully and make the choice that feels best for your (and your children’s) long term health and happiness. I knew I could not stay in the marital home due to financial and emotional reasons. I also knew that I was not ready to live alone; it would have been too isolating. I was fortunate to have a friend and her family offer their guest bedroom to me for the first year. It wasn’t ideal, but it was perfect.
Post-divorce, people tend to fall into one of two camps when it comes to food. Some overindulge, using food as a way to soothe and self-medicate. Others lose all appetite and avoid food altogether. Neither approach is healthy physically or emotionally. Think of the food you eat as your basic input. You can’t expect a quality output when you put in garbage or nothing at all. In those early days and weeks when people ask how they can help, ask for a healthy meal. It just might be the fuel you need to see it through.
Something about loss makes the nights seem endless, hours stretching further than any clock can convey. This is only amplified when you cannot sleep. I spent many nights sitting on the edge of my bed, legs shaking, tears pouring down my swollen face. Many nights where I arose never having slept. In the best of times, lack of sleep makes the smallest task overwhelming. During divorce? It makes it impossible. I resisted medication for weeks and then gave in when it became apparent that my body wouldn’t turn off on its own. Sleep is a priority. If it doesn’t happen naturally, seek medical help.
This is where your basic emotional needs are met. These goals take you out of survival mode and remind you what it feels like to be alive.
When you face loss, the chest has a tendency to tighten, bound by a corset of grief. The breath becomes shallow as struggle to hold on to anything, even the air held deep in your chest. Consciously work to invite the breath back into the body. I found yoga immensely helpful in teaching my body to breathe again, welcoming life back in to the body and mind.
Whether you were an avid exerciser before your divorce or you have always preferred the sedentary life, movement in some form is a key element in healing. Exercise reduces anxiety and depression, increases energy and builds confidence even as it builds muscle. It is a reminder of what it feels like to be fully alive, moving with energy and intention.
Humans are social creatures; we have evolved to touch and be touched. Friendly contact increases oxytocin, reduces cortisol and lowers anxiety. After divorce, it’s common to be touch-deficient at a time when you need its benefits the most. One of the ways I met this need after my split was to prioritize monthly massage sessions. It was a safe way that I could receive touch without the expectancy of reciprocity. Those precious hours on that table helped to rebuild my sense of self and stability. 
One of my favorite pictures of myself is one where my now-husband then-boyfriend captured me in the middle of a huge, belly-shaking laugh. That was the first instance where I truly felt alive again after my ex left. The first moment where nothing mattered except that for that single moment. Laughter is the sound of life. And practice makes perfect. Find opportunities to smile and embrace them. You may feel like you’re faking it for a while. That’s okay. One day, that smile will be real and unclouded by the past.
Once you’ve reentered life and mastered the basics of surviving, it’s time for the advanced curriculum. These goals are the instruments that can elevate you to a new level of happiness and fulfillment. 
Divorce has a way of shrinking your world, pulling back on the strings that connect you to others. The first step in thriving is to grow your world again. Open your arms. Tear down your barriers. Be vulnerable. Allow yourself to love and be loved. I know for me this was the scariest step. Connection means forming new bonds that can be broken. And I remembered that pain all too well. Yet I wasn’t going to let the fear of heartbreak keep me in chains of my own making.
In my mind, thriving has always been linked with passion. It’s approaching life head-on with unbridled enthusiasm and spirit. It’s those moments and interests that pull you under and sweep you away. You can rekindle a former passion that you have let fall by the wayside or you can create a new one. In my former life, gardening was my passion; I would get lost in the palate of my plantings. My new life called for something new and I now paint with words rather than flowers. 
Divorce is the destruction of a marriage and what better way to counter that force that with that of creation. Everyone I encounter who is thriving after divorce works at creating beauty in the world. Some are artistic, creating portraits in pastels or words. Others seek to create havens for others to feel safe and secure. Some strive to change the divorce process, wanting to create a better experience for those who encounter the courts. And many strive to create the best life possible for their children. Regardless of your medium, let the tear-down of your marriage become the foundation for something new.
The benefits of service are threefold: it reinforces your own gratitude, it helps you find peace with your past and it benefits others, spreading positive energy and interaction. Service can take many forms depending upon your gifts and strengths. Find a way to give back that is meaningful to you and helpful for others. There is no better way to feel fully alive than to help others live their best lives.
The road from survival to thriving isn’t a straight one. Some days you will experience great progress only to be pulled back to first step again. But the twists and turns become easier to navigate as you become familiar with the path. 
And before you know it, you’ll spy a sign:
Welcome to The Thriver’s Club. 
A place to celebrate life after loss.
A place to share our joys and triumphs.
A place to bring hope to those still trying to find their way.
In order to be a member, all you have to do is share one example of how you have been able to thrive after divorce.
It can small or grand. A sign of truly moving on or as fleeting as a moment where the sun broke through the clouds.
Don’t be shy; smiles are meant to be shared not hidden away.

7 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Gratitude That Will Motivate You To Give Thanks Year-Round

It’s that time of year where many people begin thinking about everything they have to be thankful for. Although it’s nice to count your blessings on Thanksgiving, being thankful throughout the year could have tremendous benefits on your quality of life.

In fact, gratitude may be one of the most overlooked tools that we all have access to every day. Cultivating gratitude doesn’t cost any money and it certainly doesn’t take much time, but the benefits are enormous. Research reveals gratitude can have these seven benefits:

1. Gratitude opens the door to more relationships. Not only does saying “thank you” constitute good manners, but showing appreciation can help you win new friends, according to a 2104 study published in Emotion. The study found that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship. So whether you thank a stranger for holding the door or you send a quick thank-you note to that co-worker who helped you with a project, acknowledging other people’s contributions can lead to new opportunities.

2. Gratitude improves physical health. Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and they report feeling healthier than other people, according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences. Not surprisingly, grateful people are also more likely to take care of their health.  They exercise more often and are more likely to attend regular check-ups with their doctors, which is likely to contribute to further longevity.

3. Gratitude improves psychological health. Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, ranging from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.

4. Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression. Grateful people are more likely to behave in a prosocial manner, even when others behave less kind, according to a 2012 study by the University of Kentucky. Study participants who ranked higher on gratitude scales were less likely to retaliate against others, even when given negative feedback. They experienced more sensitivity and empathy toward other people and a decreased desire to seek revenge.

5. Grateful people sleep better. Writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep, according to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. Spend just 15 minutes jotting down a few grateful sentiments before bed, and you may sleep better and longer.

6. Gratitude improves self-esteem. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that gratitude increased athlete’s self-esteem, which is an essential component to optimal performance. Other studies have shown that gratitude reduces social comparisons. Rather than becoming resentful toward people who have more money or better jobs – which is a major factor in reduced self-esteem- grateful people are able to appreciate other people’s accomplishments.

7. Gratitude increases mental strength. For years, research has shown gratitude not only reduces stress, but it may also play a major role in overcoming trauma.  A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War Veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  A 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that gratitude was a major contributor to resilience following the terrorist attacks on September 11.  Recognizing all you have to be thankful for – even during the worst times of your life – fosters resilience.

We all have the ability and opportunity to cultivate gratitude. Simply take a few moments to focus on all that you have – rather than complain about all the things you think you deserve.  Developing an “attitude of gratitude” is one of the simplest ways to improve your satisfaction with life.