Sunday, 30 April 2017

Is Death Easier Than Divorce?

Last week a woman said something to me that stopped me in my tracks. It had occurred within the context of a conversation we were having about the death of my husband last year when she asked me how I was coping. I explained that I was getting back on my feet. It was then she said,

“You’re lucky; death is so much easier than divorce.”

Had I heard her correctly? She went onto explain, saying that before she’d divorced her husband she had often wished him dead because all her troubles would have disappeared overnight.

I’ve often heard people in unhappy marriages discuss how much easier it would be if the other person died rather than going through a breakup. I must say that when I was in a miserable relationship, I once had that thought, and, as fleeting as it was, the shame of it stayed with me long after the relationship had ended.

In the cold light of day, death would seem to instantly resolve many problems: not having to make the decision to leave, not having to risk breaking up the family, or threatening the security of the family home or finances, no on-going power struggle with the ex, no co-parenting problems, no loss of self-esteem or friends, and no legal battles.

Divorce, on the other hand, seems to be more complicated as it can create a sense of failure for not making the marriage work. You can experience guilt, even, as a result of feelings of not trying ‘hard enough’. Having to continually communicate with your ex can cause issues to arise, especially if there are children involved.

If the divorce is particularly acrimonious, one of the hardest things to endure is the inner conflict of wanting to be a good single parent and be nice to the ex in front of the kids versus wanting to scream at him/her for ruining your life!

Interestingly, a study from the University College Dublin in 2004 revealed thatchildren suffer more from the effects of a divorce than the death of a parent. It stated that the children of divorced parents were more likely to suffer from depression, have poor social skills, and do worse at school compared to children who experienced parental bereavement. Does it also challenge the view that a child would be better off with divorced parents than to be raised in a ‘bad marriage’?

Having experienced both divorce and death as a partner, and a mother, I can report several correlations.

In both cases, the grief centrally revolves around the loss of your future life. It’s natural to assume that you’ll be with your partner forever and you feather that dream by building a fantastical life about how the two of you are going to drive your campervan into the sunset and live on the Islands of Dreams.

The loss of those fantasies- for that’s what they are- creates an ocean of grief that nothing and no one can fill. The only remedy is to bawl your eyes out while saying goodbye.
The main difference that I’ve found between going through a divorce, or bereavement, is the way that people treat you. Someone going through divorce can be regarded as an emotional wreck, and other people may stay away for fear of being embroiled in the breakup drama.
Once the divorce is complete, friends often take sides, potentially leading to an even more painful loss of the friendship group that you previously turned to in your time of need.

Conversely, grieving the death of a spouse seems to solicit a different responselike friends offering a shoulder to cry on, placing a thoughtful lasagne on the doorstep and gently encouraging the bereaved to step back out into normal life again.

The two are extreme by comparison yet, for me, the feelings of grief were as intense in both divorce and bereavement.

One obvious difference is that divorce is a choice and death is not. I have shared many evenings with friends while they debate whether or not they should leave their spouse. Some of their debates have raged on for years! Making a decision to leave a marriage when children, family structure and finances are intuitively sewn up together is often a painful and drawn-out process.

Of course, with death the decision is made for you.

If I could return to that conversation with that woman (me) who was so unhappy in her relationship, I would encourage her to leave it - pronto. What is the point in continuing with something that brings you heartache, or perhaps more truthfully, makes you think that death would bring a solution to the problem?

Having the had the experience of being in a marriage with someone that I truly loved and then having to watch them die, I can honestly say that I do feel fortunatefor having been left with the happy memories of a joyous life spent together.

The pain of the loss of someone whom I loved and who I know loved me who I spent many happy years with does, to me, seem preferable than the pain of being moored in the bitterness, agony, and disillusionment of not being able to have made a - once loving - relationship work out.

It’s easier, for me, at least, to grieve someone that I loved who is now gone, than it is, perhaps, to grieve the living when love has gone.


Saturday, 29 April 2017

Confronting one of my fears and moving forward with action!

Taking some of my own advice from my last video message, I thought I'd better confront one of my own minor fears and get back on the bike after a winter off; fear of failure (thanks to the lost fitness) and fear of success (if it went well I'd have to do it more regularly!) were both at play! Fortunately all was well in the end!

Hope you're having a great weekend!

Divorce With Dignity: Don’t Throw Daggers

So you and your ex have decided to split, perhaps your ex dumped you and you’re hurting. Or your ex made you so miserable that you dumped them. Either way the relationship is over and you’re getting divorced. Emotions are going to be bouncing off the walls; anger, sadness frustration, perhaps elation. You name it, you will experience them all.

And then comes the Divorce and financial settlement. There are several ways you can handle your divorce legally; mediation, arbitration or litigation but in emotional terms you can do it calmly, sensibly or with a fight. Now you may be the most reasonable person on the planet and your Ex could be a total arse, so you won’t have complete control of it being all “happy-clappy” but you do have the control of how you conduct yourself through a Divorce.

Unless you are an experienced divorce lawyer or a serial divorcee, the whole process may seem incredibly daunting and the approach you take will be guided by your lawyer. If your lawyer has an aggressive style, then hold on to your hats because it will be an all-out war.
Often people mistake an aggressive style for being more effective but this just simply is not true. Anything that holds both you and your ex in the ‘Anger’ zone will just cost more money and more pain. So when you pick your lawyer, make sure you are picking someone who is a good reflection of your personality. If you want to Divorce with Dignity, then get yourself someone with a dignified approach.

Even with the best lawyer on your side, you will undoubtedly want to take some pot-shots at your Ex. Perhaps he never put his dishes in the dishwasher or she was too busy on the phone to her friends and you just want to make the point One-Last-Time. But think about it this way, what is that actually going to achieve?

• Are you hoping that they will finally realise what you have been saying all along and roll around on the floor begging for forgiveness? If they haven’t understood that throughout the relationship, then they sure as hell won’t understand it now.

• Are you even trying to save the relationship by getting them to see the error of their ways? Let’s be real, hurting someone has never been the way of winning someone over.

• Are you wanting some acknowledgement of your hurt? Then I get that, but then you also have to also accept that your Ex is hurting too and you are a part of their pain. You are going to need to acknowledge their hurt as well.

The hardest part of letting go of a relationship is actually accepting that you had a part to play in the demise of it. This may seem like a really difficult thing to do if you are in the early stages of a break up but it will be the most freeing thing you will do to move on.

Throwing daggers is actually just an expression of your hurt; trying to convey how you feel. 
And the more you keep doing it, the longer the relationship will take to get over. Feelings and thoughts form an attachment, so the longer you have feelings (even anger or hate) the longer you remain emotionally attached to that person. The sooner you stop throwing daggers at your Ex, the quicker the pain will be over.


Friday, 28 April 2017

When Divorce Happens

If you’re one of the many couples who have spoken about divorce or who are actually in the process of filing for divorce, the one thing I can tell you right now is that you will be all right. It may not seem like it but you will.

Having been through the process twice, I know that these next few weeks or months will be, very likely, shrouded in anger and hurt, and accompanied by a seemingly bottomless bucket of resentment.

The divorce process has a habit of bringing out a not-so-nice side of you that you didn’t even know existed such as a burst of creativity in finding ways to hurt your ex emotionally and mentally and feel nothing... for a while.

If you didn’t initiate the divorce, then you’re a couple of steps behind your soon-to-be-ex in terms of accepting that the relationship is indeed over which will in turn hurt you or confuse you even more as you wonder, how come they are managing so well! 

Well, the reason for that is that they have already done some processing of the situation while still married to you. There was a time they were where you are now.

You will do certain things believing deeply that they are in the best interest of the children like telling them that it’s really your partner’s fault that the family is breaking up and you would never do that to them.

If you’re going through solicitors (have you considered family mediation?), you will at some point, confuse them for a therapist and pour your heart out to them not caring that you’re then, at that moment, paying them for a service they are not qualified to handle.

If you have lived for months in denial that this day will come, accepting that it’s here, that it is what it is, feels impossible to do. You go through moments of thinking, “I’m sure I can rescue this,” only to realise that you can’t, which immediately makes you jump back on the ever rotating wheel of very powerful negative emotions.

When it comes to the children, you swear that you will get full custody of them because, suddenly, in the space of what seems like 24 hours, your soon-to-be ex has become the most incompetent parent you have ever encountered! Even when someone explains to you that there is no such thing as full custody in the UK, you believe deeply that that is not fair and you will change the law if need be to “protect your children.”

When it comes to friends and relatives, you prefer, in the beginning at least, to consult with the ones who will not only listen to everything you say, but that they also back you up so much that they, and you, don’t realise that they are only fanning the flames of your anger, hurt and resentment. Who wants to speak with the objective, sensible ones?
Also watch how friends will fall away like autumn leaves, especially the ones whom you believed would be there for you.

When this happens, don’t worry too much about it, you will deal with it later on down the line. For now, just know that they would have fallen away anyway at a later date in time divorce or not.

You’re probably beginning to think about all the meaningless sex you’re going to have with everyone and everybody because you haven’t had it for such a long time!

You begin to hope that the guy who works on second floor will finally ask you out because now you can say yes, skip dinner, coffee and straight to his/yours. Or you start planning how you will finally get to tell Susanna in Planning Department how much you’re hurting in the hope that she will take you home and look after you.

If you have recently decided to separate, you will be going through this and a whole other lot of emotions including fear, shock and a whole lot of loss of actual memory, which is quickly replaced by a whole lot of selective memory.

The next few weeks, months or even couple of years will not be easy but I promise you that you will get through this tunnel.

Divorce, unfortunately for some of us, is truly part of our life’s journey. You’re going through it now but it doesn’t need to define who you are just like being laid off work, which also brings on fear, shock and a sense of loss, doesn’t define who you are for the rest of your life.

You will find love again.

You will laugh again.

Your children will be fine again.

And your life will go on again.

If you allow it....


How to TRULY be in a Relationship After Divorce Broke Your Heart

You’ve worked hard to get over your divorce. Don’t let it get in the way of your future happiness.

Living through the tumultuous end of your marriage is one of the most difficult things you’ll ever do. And the repercussions of it echo through your life in often surprising ways – and sometimes for a long time after your divorce is a done deal.

One of the most common ways to experience the fallout of divorce long after it’s final is in your new relationships.

So, when you meet someone you really like, it’s natural to wonder how to be in a relationship with them or if you even want to be in a relationship again. You wonder if it’s possible to find love after divorce.

Questioning whether you want another relationship usually driven by fear. When your heart has been broken by divorce, it’s very difficult to believe that you could ever have a good relationship.

You struggle with how to be in a relationship again. Maybe you simply fear the past repeating itself. But here’s the thing, the ONLY way this fear is real is if these two things are true:

You’re exactly the same person you were.

Your new love interest is just like your ex.

Now, if you’ve done your work – really done your work – to heal from your divorce, one of the things you now understand is your part in the failure of your marriage.

And because you’re smart and determined, you’ve taken the steps necessary to make sure you no longer behave in that way and you know how to spot it quickly when you do. This alone guarantees that you’re NOT exactly the same person you were.

Another benefit of doing your work to get over your divorce is that there’s very little chance you’re attracted to the same type of person you divorced. (Remember that the person you divorced is seldom the person you thought you married.)

So, if you’ve done all the hard work to heal, your fear of not being able to have a good relationship isn’t based on facts. It’s just a fear of the past that’s holding you back fro
m exploring your new life – the life you’ve been working so hard on making great.

Now when you really take a step back to look at it, it’s your ex and the memory of your marriage that’s keeping you from exploring the connection you have with your new love interest. And you sure don’t want your ex controlling your future!

Another reality is that the connection you have doesn’t guarantee that a relationship with this new person will work out or that you should enter it without caution. It just means that you’re attracted enough to want to explore how to be in a relationship with them.

Taking a chance to learn how to be in a relationship again with someone you genuinely care about can be extremely fun – especially after all the effort you’ve put into moving on with your life. And if this new relationship has the potential to contribute to your happiness, you deserve to explore it without fear.

So silence the echoes of your divorce and don’t let them get in the way of your pursuit of happiness.


Thursday, 27 April 2017

Get past the fear and take action

Some thoughts on how our fears whether founded or unfounded can hold us back from achieving our goals or taking actions to achieve our goals.

What fears are holding you back from your intention to thrive?

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

New child-custody law lets Ky. children win with shared parenting

Monday, Gov. Matt Bevin signed a revised law affecting temporary child-custody orders — the starting point for divorces. Kentucky’s House and Senate unanimously approved the law, which creates a presumption of joint custody and equal parenting time.

The new law, House Bill 492, answers many Kentucky children’s prayers. The Easter bunny is bringing children a better chance to see both parents after a divorce.

Children in married families enjoy both their parents. Before the new law, children in divorced families enjoyed whichever parent the court picked (primary custody). These children may be allowed a short visit with the other parent.

However, the new law encourages a better arrangement called shared parenting. In shared parenting, children get to see both parents equally. Instead of a single parent winning, the children do.

Studies show that shared parenting children really are winners. Shared parenting children are more likely to be involved in football or music contests than sole custody children. Children who see both parents are also less likely to do drugs or have premarital sex.

The funny thing is that both parents win, too. Neither is denied his or her half of parenting time. Neither parent is forced to work all day long and then be a single parent all night long every day. They have half their evenings and weekends to focus on their careers, tend to one of their own parents or start a new relationship.

Now, fewer divorcing Kentucky parents will be fighting tooth and nail to “win” their children. Thanks to Bevin and bill sponsors David Osborne, R-Prospect, Jason Petrie, R-Elkton, and Robby Milles, R-Henderson, joint custody is the temporary order law in Kentucky.

Surrounding states are rapidly passing permanent custody shared parenting laws. Illinois started shared parenting last year and Missouri just started it a few months ago. Let’s hope Bevin and the bill sponsors improve Kentucky’s permanent custody order law, also.

It’s so easy to point out our government’s flaws. But today we celebrate our legislators making things better. The entire Kentucky House and Senate have helped children see both parents after divorce. And they should because our kids deserve both parents.


Tuesday, 25 April 2017

8 Surprising Ways Divorce Affects Your Health

No two people experience a divorce the same way, but most can agree that it's an extremely painful and difficult situation, both mentally and physically. Though you'll be busy filling out legal paperwork with your attorney, it's essential to pay attention to your mind and body: Research shows that divorce can take a serious toll on everything from your sleep habits to your heart (no surprise there). Knowing about the following conditions will allow you to take charge of your health and do everything you can to prevent them from developing.


"Typically, after a divorce anxiety levels shoot sky high," says Fran Walfish, PsyD, a psychotherapist in Beverly Hills and an expert panelist on the upcoming television series Sex Box. "You don't have a companion in the big, bad world anymore," she says, and the future that you once pictured no longer exists. Plus, there's a ton of uncertainty, which can lead to feeling insecure. Depending on the circumstances, you might suddenly have to move, get a new job, and survive on less money than before. Your children might need to change schools or get used to a back-and-forth arrangement with you and your ex. Walfish says that anxiety can sometimes manifest itself in controlling behavior, such as sending a gazillion emails to your divorce attorney or emptying your joint bank account to try to take over the finances.

Drastic Weight Change

Gaining or losing a significant amount of weight is something else you might notice during or after a divorce. Some people turn to comfort foods because doughnuts or fried chicken might temporarily perk them up. For others, divorce has the opposite effect. "I had a patient walk in after a long absence. She was very slim, and I remarked upon it. She said, 'Yep, I'm getting a divorce. I call it the Grief Diet,' " says Walfish. "She lost her appetite. Sometimes you can't eat when you're distraught."

Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome occurs when you have several dangerous conditions at once, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess belly fat, and high cholesterol. It increases your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. A study published in Archives of Internal Medicine found that women who are divorced (as well as women who are widowed or in unhappy marriages) are more likely to develop metabolic syndrome than women who are in happy marriages.


After a marriage dissolves, "many people feel like failures," says Walfish. What contributed to the divorce may also play a role. For instance, if your spouse cheated on you, that knowledge might send you into a downward spiral of hopelessness and destroy your self-confidence. "I really and truly believe that this is the pivotal moment in life where it's beneficial to seek out a good therapist," says Walfish. For one thing, it helps to gain support from someone who is emotionally removed from the situation. This is also your chance to discover why you were drawn to the relationship in the first place—and learn how to avoid a similar situation. "It's a golden opportunity to write a new, brighter script for the next chapter in your life," says Wolfish.

Cardiovascular Disease

A study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family found that both middle-aged men and women are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease after going through a divorce, compared with married people of the same age. It also revealed that middle-aged women who get divorced are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than middle-aged men who get divorced. Why do women have it worse? Here's one explanation: 

Research shows that the stress of divorce leads to higher levels of inflammation in women, and those levels persist for some time, explains Mark D. Hayward, professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. "Part of the reason for the continued elevation in women is that the period after divorce is highly stressful, too. Women often take bigger hits in terms of finances, and they tend to stay single longer than men."

Substance Abuse

Post-split, you might find yourself becoming more dependent on cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs to cope with feeling lonely, anxious, or depressed. One 2012 review of scientific literature published in The Journal of Men's Health found that divorced men have higher rates of substance abuse, as well as higher rates of mortality, depression, and lack of social support, compared with married men. The stress you feel from a divorce is second only to the stress you feel from the death of a spouse, explains study co-author Dave Robinson, PhD, director of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program at Utah State University. "And men are more likely to ignore the significant impact that divorce has on them."


"In my divorced clients, sleep disruption is very common, as well as nightmares," says Walfish. This might mean having trouble falling or staying asleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, insomnia is very common among those who are depressed, so divorce-related depression is one possible underlying cause of the sleep issues. Be sure to follow these tips to sleep better every night.

Chronic Health Problems & Mobility Issues

Many health consequences of divorce are linked. For example, it can be harder to eat well and exercise regularly if you're feeling depressed and not sleeping well. And those unhealthy habits can lead to serious diseases and conditions. A study published in Journal of Health and Social Behavior found that divorced or widowed people have 20% more chronic health conditions (such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer) than people who are married. They also have 23% more mobility limitations, such as not being able to climb stairs or walk a block. Consider this one more reason to make sure you get a physical each year.


Monday, 24 April 2017

When a major change or decision seems too scary.

I was just listening to a podcast and heard something really significant, momentous even, and I wanted to share it with you as I think it summarises the challenge we all face in many aspects of life from time to time, whether:

  • Tackling a project at work;
  • Taking control of our diet or exercise;
  • Wanting to contribute and make a difference to larger scale problems in the world;
  • Setting out to thrive and build a new life after divorce.

The challenge? It is all far too big and scary when viewed as a whole.

The tip, whilst simple, easy to understand and probably something that we have all heard many times in many different forms, really made sense to me today…

“When you find something too big and scary and the very thought of it is paralysing you into inaction, or fear, ratchet the challenge back until you reach a level you’re comfortable with and act on that.”

Simple, right?

In the context of the examples above, our challenge may then be ‘ratcheted back’ to:

Focussing upon what progress we can make against our project today (or this morning, or this hour) rather than wondering how we’ll ever finish the whole thing.

Focussing on eating a healthy breakfast, or building a half hour walk into our day, rather than worrying about each and every meal being healthy or beating ourselves up for not being at the gym each and every evening.

Donating just £1 or $1 to a cause that resonates with us rather than getting demoralised about the plight of those far less fortunate than us.

In the context of setting out to thrive after divorce or separation, this could be as simple as making a choice today to:

  • Create an online dating profile and get back into the world of dating
  • Setting up a new bank account to start saving for a vacation or to invest in some education for yourself
  • Starting to read a book you’d bought but have been delaying reading
  • Focussing some time and attention on yourself by taking yourself out for a coffee or catching up with a friend
  • Opening a debate with your ex that is proactively focussed on the future (such as to float some ideas for how you wish to raise your kids after divorce) rather than rehashing events of the past.

It really depends on where you find yourself on the journey but whichever you choose, each of these steps may help to break down the size and scale of the challenge you face, and by reducing the fear you will increase the action and magnify the results which can only be a good thing.

I hope this is of interest and use to you. It struck me as pertinent, relevant and interesting, hence my desire to share!

Should you wish to check out the podcast in question, it was the Tim Ferriss Show featuring an interview with US Senator Cory Booker; very interesting and enlightening.

If you’re interested in a recommendation for a good read too (see above!) then I can highly recommend the excellent “Tools of Titans” by Tim Ferriss; I’m a big fan of his (can you tell?!). The book is a collection of interviews with loads of really interesting and inspiring people and I’d highly recommend checking it out.

Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss -

Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss -

Thanks and have a great day!


Thursday, 13 April 2017

Developing Co-parenting Plans for the Holidays

The organisation of parenting schedules during family vacations and festivities.

Parenting after divorce presents special challenges and complications during holiday periods. This is no surprise, given that holidays can be challenging even for two-parent co-resident families, with additional commitments and obligations, figuring out holiday plans, blending traditions and deciding where festivities will be held. These can be stressful periods for separated families, and there is a lot to figure out. Yet especially during the holiday season, mothers and fathers must do all they can to put aside their differences and allow their children as much parenting time as possible, for the good of all. Particularly for children, spending time with extended family members on both sides is very important, and they should be allowed to enjoy a stress- and drama-free holiday with both mom and her family, as well as dad and his family.
Because the added stress of holiday periods can lead to heightened conflict between divorced parents, it is especially important that parents make a concerted effort to cooperate for their children’s sake. It is not an easy task to make the holidays go smoothly. It is important to think in advance about some of the issues parents may face:
Dealing with Grief and Loss: The first set of holidays following a divorce is likely to be the most difficult because the parents are still figuring out what works, and what doesn’t, in terms of co-parenting. In addition, changes to and the loss of shared family customs, and the creation of new traditions, will elicit difficult feelings for all family members. Even if the divorce occurred earlier in the year and there has been ample time to deal with it, the first set of holidays are still going to present challenges. There is a grieving period that comes with the first holidays following a divorce, with the realization that things are no longer going to be the same. The first holiday season in particular typically tends to be a very difficult time for everyone in the family. While the children often have the most difficult time adjusting, the entire family is dealing with a sense of loss. Yet even though the parents are likely dealing with plenty of their own issues, the holidays are a time when it becomes more important than ever to attempt civility. This is particularly important because children are more sensitive around the holidays, because of the increased focus on traditional family events with the idea of everyone coming together to celebrate. The cultural belief of families coming together at such times is what causes children and parents to feel an acute sense of grief during the holidays, and to feel lost and displaced. It is vital that parents recognize that the priority should be on the needs of the child.
Making Decisions: There are numerous decisions that need to be made in terms of celebrating the holidays under the new circumstances of parental separation. How will the time be split? What traditions will continue and what new rituals need to be established? When divorced parents have unequal financial arrangements, finances may arise as an issue, as some challenging situations, such as one parent trying to outdo the other, may arise. Equity is important for children; there may be an agreed upon spending limit or parents may make an attempt to still give joint gifts. The gifts being purchased also need to be discussed so that the child isn’t receiving duplicate gifts. All of this requires communication and planning. The holidays may provide a critical opportunity for divorced parents to start learning to communicate more effectively in the interests of their children, and setting the tone for compromising and making joint decisions.
Negotiating Changes: With divorce comes change, and both parents and children struggle with the process of accepting that change. A large part of that may be developing new rituals and traditions around the holidays. Many parents have an open conversation with their children about which rituals are most important to them and how they are to be retained, with or without the other parent. In some cases parents try to avoid getting hung up on established traditions and focus more on creating a holiday that brings their children joy. Holidays after divorce do not have to follow the patterns of previous holidays, or conform to preconceived ideas about holiday traditions. They may involve children in entirely new activities. It is not always easy to move on from old traditions, as parents think, "This is how we used to do it." In moving forward with new plans, parents become role models for handling change for their children. Parents can also view new arrangements as a bonding opportunity as they create their own new traditions with their children. Many parents keep some of the very meaningful past traditions but also create new ones.
Spending Time Together: I recall my son's delight during the first summer holiday after my divorce when his mother and I spent an afternoon enjoying a game of badminton, after a difficult period of estrangement. Another one of the bigger decisions to be made during the holidays is the idea of divorced parents sharing some of the holiday time and traditions. There are potentially serious drawbacks to such sharing, but the potential benefits to children cannot be ignored. However, parents need to put serious thought into whether they can handle spending time together without any major tension or fights, and it is also important to have an up-front conversation with the children to ensure they are not given a false sense of hope. Children will enjoy an opportunity for time and traditions shared simultaneously with both parents, but need to understand that parents spending time together during a family event does not mean they are getting back together. A time frame on time together will lessen the likelihood of children assuming that parents are getting back together. It is also important that parents consider any extended family who may be present. For some families, extended family members may be the ones who cause tension. If grandparents on either side are going to be less than civil toward the ex, then problems will arise. Parents need to set the agenda and the tone in advance for how events involving extended family members are going to take place.
A well-designed co-parenting plan should spell out in some details the specifics of time arrangements during holidays, vacations and special festivities, with the particular needs of children considered in the first instance. Agreements with respect to parental communication, decision-making, accommodating changes, and spending time separately and together are essential to pre-empting tensions and crises during what is a special and sacred time for children and parents. Children will thrive when spending time with both parents and extended families, especially during the holidays. Keeping in mind the special challenges of co-parenting during family vacations and festivities is an important measure to allow them to do so during these special occasions.

Putting Children First: The Best Gift Divorced Parents Can Give Their Children This Holiday Season

Holidays can be stressful for everyone, but for children of divorced or separated parents, the holidays can be especially challenging. Despite this reality, divorced parents (as well as parents that are separated and considering divorce) can ease the tension, maintain their sanity and grace and create happy holiday memories for their children and themselves for years to come. The opportunity to create a positive out of what is often viewed as a negative depends on the divorced parents’ ability to plan ahead and the level of conflict between them. Where parental or custodial conflict exists, courts — as opposed to the parents — often end up deciding how children will spend their holidays. However, there are many ways divorced or separated parents can handle custody during the holidays.

Some parents will alternate each holiday on an annual basis. In this scenario, one parent may have certain holidays in even numbered years and the other parent will have the same holidays in odd numbered years or vice versa. One drawback to alternating holidays annually is that one parent will have to face the disappointment of not being with his or her children every holiday each year. In order to try and soften the impact of this loss, divorced parents should plan ahead for the absence their children during the holidays by making alternate plans with their extended families or loved ones, planning to be away or scheduling events to soften the blow of not being with your children on these special occasions. All of these diversions may help maintain the non-custodial parent’s emotional state and health during these times.

Other divorced or separated parents may choose to equally split the hours of the day on each holiday. This method allows both parents to have time with their children on each holiday annually. However, depending on the child or children, this can be stressful for them, as it may lead to a hectic schedule on what should be a care free and joy filled time. In addition, equally splitting the holidays on an annual basis means increasing the number and frequency of transitions for the kids as well as increasing the parents’ interactions, which can often lead to disagreements or added stress to an already chaotic holiday season. If there is ongoing conflict or even a likelihood for conflict, equally splitting the holidays each year may not be the best option for children during holidays.

Before deciding to split the holidays equally on an annual basis or alternating which parent has custody of the children, divorced parents should consider if there is increased “chaos” for their children and select a schedule that will best suit their child or children’s personality.

An alternative to equally splitting the holidays on an annual basis is for one parent to arrange a family dinner on the weekend immediately before or following the holiday. For example, if a dad’s extended family lives out of town, Thanksgiving could be spent with mom, and dad could celebrate a Thanksgiving holiday meal the weekend following Thanksgiving. The key to successful holiday scheduling for divorced and separated parents is to plan in advance, to maintain a consistent level of flexibility and cooperation while consistently considering the least disruptive schedule for their children.

As unconventional as it may sound, some divorced or separated parents may consider celebrating part of the holidays together with their children. In even rarer situations, parents may agree to celebrate the holidays with their children and their extended families — made up of both divorced parents and their former in-law families all together. People are often shocked when they hear that divorced families celebrate holidays together as they did when they were married and living together. This arrangement occurs in the minority of divorced families and usually only works in families where the divorced parents are cooperative and high functioning in co-parenting their children. To break bread and manage to sit at the dinner table with your former spouse and his or her extended family members truly requires that parents be “grown ups,” perhaps bite their tongues a bit and rise above the problems of their prior marriage. Divorced or separated parents that are able to celebrate holidays together as they did when they lived together as an intact family must be extremely “child-focused.” If there is the slightest chance for conflict between the parents or extended family members, opt for a different holiday custodial arrangement. There is nothing worse than spoiling a holiday or other celebratory time in a child’s life than participating in conflict, hostility and unnecessary drama. The last thing any parent wants to do is create a holiday memory filled with angst or argument as it will create a lasting impression for the children. For those parents that can agree to share the holidays, they should ensure that their children understand that mom and dad are just together to celebrate the holiday as a family, and it doesn’t mean that the parents are reconciling.

Finally, there are some divorced parents that are unable to be with their child or children at all during the holidays. In these situations, the absent parent may consider making an audio or video tape for the child or children to play during their absence or, with technology, the unavailable parent may schedule to speak by telephone or Skype. Some psychologists suggest that, with younger children, the absent parent make a video or audio reading of a holiday book or send a special video message to the child or children to fill the void of that parent’s absence.

The most important thing for divorced parents to remember is that the holidays are about their children, not them. Even if you are unable to be with your children during a holiday, encourage them to enjoy themselves with the other parent and their extended family. Try to embrace the spirit of the holiday season, let go of anger and be thankful for what you have versus what you have lost.

If there was an 11th hour holiday schedule negotiation last year and no ongoing holiday schedule for this year, set up a holiday schedule now. The best practice is to communicate with the other parent by email or text. Be sure to include specific details about when the holiday period begins and ends, where the custodial exchanges will take place, who is responsible for handling the exchange and be sure to pack any special clothing items the children may need to celebrate the holiday at issue. Ensuring that your children feel secure (as opposed to disappointed) far exceeds the pain of a brief conversation with the other parent. Better yet, write an objective business-like email to iron out holidays plans as far in advance as possible. In addition, plan in advance with your extended family and don’t be afraid to ask for their understanding and help if your custody holiday schedule does not match their expectations of the holidays. Uncertainty breeds anxiety. Divorced families can enjoy holidays in the same way that intact families do — perhaps even with a little less drama. Everyone will be happier knowing what to expect and avoiding conflict on the eve of the holidays will give both parents the ability to carry on traditions and create new ones, which will remain with their children for a lifetime. What better gift could a parent give?


Expect The Holidays To Re-Trigger The Grief Of Loss

Have you ever noticed that your mood changes in a similar way at a particular time of year for reasons you can’t quite pinpoint? Maybe you often feel slightly on edge or blue during the week of Thanksgiving, even though nothing bad has happened (yet). Or you tend to feel anxious, irritable or vaguely ill at ease when fall turns to winter, which happens to be when your parents split up or your best friend moved away. The truth is, particular holidays, months or even seasons can carry emotional baggage that you may not recognize.

Each of us has emotional hotspots in time that are “irreversibly tied to our past,” according to Dr. John Sharp, a psychiatrist on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and the UCLA School of Medicine and author of “The Emotional Calendar.” “What’s happening is your mind is making sense of your experiences without your really thinking about it; it’s a form of pattern recognition.” In other words, it’s as if your subconscious is making a note to self, based on environmental factors or sensory conditions that trigger an association from the past.

Whether they’re obvious or hidden, these connections often involve memories of noteworthy events in our lives (such as moving to a new state or being in a horrible car accident or a frightening fire) or holiday-related family get-togethers. But they can also be tied to a particular loss (such as the death of a loved one or a devastating break-up or divorce) or to personal struggles (with finances or substance abuse, for example). “The emotions bleed across time from the past to the present,” Sharp explains.

Research refers to this phenomenon as “anniversary reactions,” “holiday effects” or “birthday blues” – and studies have found that the emotional impact is particularly strong for parents who have lost a child and for older, bereaved spouses. A 2015 study from Sweden found that mothers who lost a child had a 46 percent increased risk of dying, mostly from heart problems or suicide, during the anniversary week of the child’s death. A 2014 study from Rutgers University found that widowed older adults experienced heightened psychological distress during the post-holiday period, the month of their late spouse’s birthday and in June (when many wedding anniversaries and graduations occur). “When you lose someone, there is no such thing as closure – there’s a hole in the fabric and it’s never totally repaired,” says Ann Rosen Spector, a clinical psychologist in Philadelphia.

Elizabeth Berrien is all too familiar with this phenomenon. The period from mid-to-late summer, the fall and early winter holidays, and late January are particularly tough for her. That’s because in August 2009 she became a young war widow when her husband Brian, a Special Forces soldier, was killed in action in Afghanistan, and in January 2008, they lost their son to stillbirth. “My grief usually intensifies around the fall and winter holidays, since that’s when more emphasis is placed on family-centered activities,” explains Berrien, now 34, co-founder of The Respite, a women’s wellness center in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the author of “Creative Grieving.” “It definitely magnifies the fact that loved ones are missing.”

This emotional rekindling can happen for several reasons, experts say. For one thing, your senses can stir up memories and certain emotions when you notice a chill in the air, the smell of chestnuts or a certain cast of light through the trees. For another, cultural expectations and family traditions can set the stage for old emotions to rise up. “All these patterns have probably intensified in recent years because of Facebook and social media because you see how everybody else celebrates these holidays,” notes Deborah Carr, a professor of sociology at Rutgers University. “Holidays used to be very private. Now people post the most positive experiences, which can make your experiences less pleasant by comparison.”

In 2001, Chester Goad, a university administrator in Crossville, Tennessee, lost his dad suddenly to a heart attack; his mom died of cancer five years later. “My birthday is around Thanksgiving, and my mom’s was in December, so we would have birthday and holiday celebrations all during the Christmas season,” says Goad, now 43, who is married and has a teenage son. “This time of year can be stressful for me. I still feel the joy of the season, but at times it can be a solemn joy, and I vacillate between bouts with depression over the sense of loss and anxiety over wanting the holidays to be meaningful for my family.”

Becoming aware of this phenomenon and understanding why you may feel out of sorts allows you to do something about it. The first step is to figure out why you’ve experienced a sudden shift in mood if it’s not obvious. To do that, Sharp recommends imagining yourself as an actor on stage, then broadening the spotlight to see what’s around you in terms of past memories or events and present influences. “It’s not like deep Freudian archaeology – you just have to broaden the beam on yourself [to see what could be affecting you that isn’t immediately apparent],” Sharp says.

To do that, ask yourself: What smells, sounds or other environmental factors might be triggering these feelings? What cultural expectations may be fueling my angst or agitation? When have I felt similarly in the past? “Sometimes you don’t have an immediate answer,” Sharp says, “but a little while later something can pop into your head – a free association – that makes the connection.”

Once you know what you’re dealing with, it can help to tell yourself that the feelings you’re experiencing belong more in the past than the present. Besides helping to modify your reaction, “untangling those threads and recognizing that something has to do with the past can be enormously freeing,” Sharp says. Otherwise, it can help to label it as “poignancy – a mixture of good feelings and pain,” says Richard Tedeschi, a professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina–Charlotte, and to acknowledge that this “is part of the human experience, the price you pay for loving someone.”

Chester Goad finds that talking to family members and friends and telling stories about his parents is one of the best ways to cope with his sense of loss. “I’ve learned that it’s important to share memories and laugh while creating new memories,” he says.

But if you feel overwhelmed during a holiday get-together, have an exit strategy or a contingency plan so that you don’t feel trapped. You might excuse yourself to take a walk or a rest or to call an old friend. “Give yourself boundaries on the time [spent with others] to protect your mental health,” Tedeschi advises.

In the future, be aware that a relapse of an emotional hangover could occur, and take steps to head it off at the pass. “Figure out what it means to take extra good care of yourself and be proactive,” Sharp says. This might mean planning to go on a special outing to a favorite place, watching good movies or doing something else that boosts your spirits.

With the holiday- and anniversary-related surges in grief that Berrien experiences, “there’s often anxiety, and sometimes I become a bit more withdrawn, so I turn to meditation, deep breathing, exercise or massage to help me be in the present,” says Berrien, who is remarried and the mother of a 6-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old stepdaughter from her first marriage. “It’s often the simplest things, such as being out in nature, listening to my favorite music or reading a good book that help me cope and bring me to a place of comfort and peace.” Indeed, finding that personal spot of serenity may be the best cure for any seasonal or emotional hangover that ails you.


Wednesday, 12 April 2017

If by Rudyard Kipling - Inspirational Poetry

My favourite poem - 'If' by Rudyard Kipling... so many lines that capture the sentiment of thriving and taking control and ownership of our destiny.

Let me know if you enjoy it!

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Overcoming The 7 Fears with Dr. John Demartini

A brief video interview with the brilliant Dr John DeMartini touching upon his book 'The Values Factor' and linking the need for goals we set to align to our core values. 

Check out the video, then check out the book and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The Law of Attraction: 30 Ways You Can Attract What You Dream Of

The law of attraction is a very insightful law by which to live. In other words, your ability to become intuitive will skyrocket if you attract what you want in life, especially what you dream of. Do you dream of traveling the world? Do you dream of writing a book? Do you dream of opening up your very own coffee shop?   

Everyone has unique dreams that differ from one another, but whatever that dream may be, it's completely possible. Spread your wings. Search for your purpose and freedom in this life. Most importantly, be as real as they come. 

Demonstrate to others that life isn't all that tough if we come to understand how lucky we are to be alive in this beautiful world, where miracles take place every day. All it takes is grasping on to our fullest potential to do what we love, holding it closely and never letting it go. 

Don't ever let someone tell you that you can't do something. Not even me. You got a dream, you gotta protect it. When people can't do something themselves, they're gonna tell you that you can't do it. You want something, go get it. Period.

– Will Smith, “Pursuit of Happiness” 

Here are 30 tips to help you attract what you truly dream of in life: 

1. Be positive. Walk around with the most positive attitude possible, so positive people don't know what to think. When you speak, do it with good intentions. Attract positive thoughts no matter what you're going through. The more positivity you have in your life, the less negativity exists. 

2. Be grateful; appreciate everything. There's nothing in this world we shouldn't be grateful for. Be grateful for your family. Be grateful for your friends. Be grateful for a home. Be grateful for food to eat. Be grateful for adventure. Some people aren't fortunate enough to have any of these things. Some of us start with absolutely nothing. Don't take anything for granted. 

3. Believe in your own dreams. Attract what you dream of because once your dreams come true, life turns into an endless miracle. Anything and everything you need or want is out there. Just believe you, without question, have what it takes. 

4. Follow your intuition. You are the only one who has control over what goes on in your mind. If something feels so right, it's probably something you should do. If you have urges, listen to them carefully. In a sense, be willing to let your intuition guide you. 

5. Follow your heart with courage. The law of attraction has everything to do with following your heart. Even if following your heart leads to heartache, meet heartache with courage. Courage gives you strength. Don't let the influence of others bring you down. Surround yourself with people who want to see you succeed and don't forget to support them during their journeys, as well. 

6. Listen to your gut instinct. We've always been told our gut instinct is usually right. Whether it's right or wrong, our gut can usually sense something is a little wobbly. Pay attention to this feeling and be mindful of it. There are very greedy people in this world, which is why it's important to always be on our toes. 

7. Give to others and help others. Treat others the way you would like to be treated. We've all heard this statement, haven't we? Attract to yourself the way you want to be treated by equally treating others with kindness. It creates a world filled with virtuous karma. 

8. Travel to be inspired on a whole new level. Traveling is hands-down one of my top and most important priorities in life. Every time I travel, I am immensely exposed to a whole different part of the world I previously knew nothing about. When we see new places, we gain new perspectives and new perspectives are always a wonderful addition to the way we live our lives. 

9. Make time to do what YOU enjoy. The law of attraction suggests we attract what we want. Do you want more time to do what you enjoy most? If so, make that time because there's plenty of it. Don't make excuses. Time is just an idea with numbers and a clock ticking. 

10. No buts. No what ifs. No can'ts. No won'ts. Nothing is “too hard” to accomplish. 

11. Be real with everyone. Let's be real: Nobody likes fake personalities. If you can't be real, it will be extremely difficult to attract real. To be real is to be honest; to be real is to be kind, and to be real is to admit to your failures. 

12. Practice what you preach; don't be a hypocrite. Show others that if you can do something, anyone can. If you want to practice putting good into the world, then you must preach about putting good into the world. 

13. Realize your imagination is very powerful. Imagine your dreams coming true. The law of attraction is all about imagining what you want and turning it into a reality. If you're always thinking about your dreams or imagining them, you will work that much harder for them. 

14. Be passionate about what interests you. Be enthusiastic to learn about what you've always been interested in. If you're truly passionate about something, you will take the time to learn about it. 

15. Conquer your failures. If you fail, rinse, wash, repeat. Always attract success and happiness. 

16. Realize worry, stress and fear don't matter. None of us like to worry, to be stressed out or to be terribly afraid of something. If we focus on eliminating worry, stress and fear, our lives will begin to grow happier. Embrace the unknown with wide-open arms and a heart waiting to be filled with adventure. 

17. Recognize everything happens for a reason. Attract your ability to succeed, no matter what happens. Life is very mysterious, in a beautiful way. 

18. Be honest; lies are worthless. If you attract the truth by always telling the truth, you will never have anything to hide. If you're ashamed of something, admit to it. Never throw anyone under the bus, and more importantly, don't ever blame someone else for your wrong doings. Right your wrongs and own your mistakes. 

19. Live as if every day is a miracle. Live like your dreams are coming true every single day. Live as if there won't be a tomorrow. Miracles will begin to unfold all around you. 

There are two ways you can live: as if nothing is a miracle or as if everything is a miracle. 
– Albert Einstein 

20. Be open-minded. In order to attract what you want, you have to possess an open mind. Having an open mind gives you the ability to obtain multiple perspectives. 

21. Don't let school get in the way of your education. One of my favorite professors used to say this all the time. In other words, school isn't the only place you receive education; you also learn from experiences. 

22. Learn from EVERYONE. Not only do we learn from our experiences, it's also important to realize we can learn something from everyone. We all have something to learn or teach one another. This is pure evidence for why we are ALL capable of anything. 

23. See the best in people. If we see the best in others, they will most likely see the best in us, hence the law of attraction. Start out by giving someone the benefit of the doubt. If he or she ends up disappointing you, cross that bridge when you get to it. 

24. Believe in abundance and freedom. Along with freedom comes abundance. By achieving freedom, I don't mean having all the money in the world to do whatever you please. Set yourself free and help others to be set free by simply appreciating life and the abundance it brings. 

25. Focus on your needs vs. wants. Attract what you need and your wants will begin to prosper. If we don't dial in on our needs first, we won't be able to understand the importance of them. Our needs are needs. The wants will come along when they're meant to. 

26. Don't get caught up in the idea that money buys happiness. Money buys material things. Money can't buy passion or love. Money can't buy ambition or success. Money can't buy dreams or purpose or meaning to life. If all I had was a penny left in my pocket and someone needed it, I would give it up in a heartbeat. 

27. Remember, there's always room to improve. Nobody is perfect in this world. You may not be born as a prodigy or born with the talent you wish you could have, but if you practice, you learn. Why not gain the knowledge about everything that interests you and then improve on what matters most? 

28. Don't give up. Ever. Never. Period. 

29. Be patient. Patience is a virtue. I always dream about achieving my goals in the fast lane, but sometimes, it doesn't work out that way. We just have to go with the flow. 

30. Inspire others; motivate them. Aspire to inspire. With your ambition and enthusiasm, motivate others. Show others that life is all about the adventure and the journey. Through our imagination is how our dreams spiral out of control and into control. Once they're in control, seize each and every day as if it were your last. Captivate what you dream of and don't ever settle for less.