Friday, 31 January 2020

What Makes People Strong?

After giving advice recently, I was told, “But I’m not strong like you.” “I don’t know how you survived.” I replied, “You would have been strong, if you had to be,” and I continued, “Sometimes, being strong is the only choice you have.” Until this conversation, I had never given a lot of thought about our capacity to be strong, and I wondered — are we inherently strong, or do we become strong only after being tested through adversity?

I believe each of us has an innate capacity for strength and throughout our lives, we develop — through conditions we find ourselves in — the skills to be secure, passionate, formidable and determined. However, when we experience trauma and crisis, some of us lose those skills needed for determination, and in turn lose our capacity to “self-right.” Life is a little like math — we can’t skip algebra, or else geometry and calculus won’t make sense. Likewise, in life we can’t move past trauma, we must go through it, experience it fully, or we simply won’t have the information or the skills necessary to do well.
What Are the Traits That Make People Strong?

1. Resiliency: 

Resiliency is the ability to adapt to life’s changes and crises. We generally feel safest when we have a sense of control or predictability; but when we find ourselves upside down and not in control, having the capacity to be resilient may be critical in weathering turmoil, and it may be the key to a healthy and productive life. Becoming more resilient means we must be able to be healthy, have energy and cultivate positive feelings during the hardest and darkest of times. When we can improve our problem-solving skills and cultivate the ability to see setbacks as opportunities, we can learn to successfully bounce back from stress, crises, and trauma. We become resilient in order to overcome the many adversities we will face and so that we can bounce back from those problems with more determination and skills, which can lead to better problem solving in the future.

2. Self-Esteem: 

Life is filled with moments of bad luck, hardship, sorrow and setbacks. Overcoming adversity teaches us to be strong, survive and even thrive under the challenges of life. Those of us who have lived with and overcome obstacles have learned that there are times that require strong action — and when we step up to meet that need, we learn how to handle new situations, deal with great pain and stay stable and focused. When we face difficulty and disaster head-on and with fearlessness, we strengthen our self-esteem and develop self-confidence. On the other hand, giving in to the hardships — when we do not handle stress, are unable to endure pain, or are unsuccessful and choose to not stand up for ourselves — we are at risk for losing respect for ourselves, and our self-esteem will not thrive in these conditions.

3. Love: 

Strength grows when we have people who love us enough to set limits so we stay out of danger, individuals to show us how to do things right and help us when we are in need. When we have role models who show concern and respect, and who help us be responsible for what we do, we begin to expect that things will be all right. There are situations when we find we are stronger for another’s behalf than we would be for ourselves. Mothers who resonate with a child’s internal state will, if needed, put their own safety and survival on hold for the sake of the child. We can learn through attachments and caring that there exists help when we need it the most, and that we are never truly alone — unless we choose to be. Showing our concern for others through devotion, compassion and tenderness supports our ability to find ways to solve problems that we will face, and to develop the skills needed to be strong.

4. Faith: 

Faith is, at its core, firm convictions. Convictions are the beliefs that ground us and establish the circumstances in our life — optimism, hopefulness, tolerance and the belief in something. There are many people who don’t know what they really believe in. When you lack convictions, instability can create opportunities for weakness instead of strength. I’m suspicious that it is true: “If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.” Regardless of what is happening in your life, take a stand for what you believe in — and when we can stand firm when difficult times arrive and when we can hold it together when everyone would understand if we fell apart, we will develop a powerful strength within.

5. Acceptance: 

To accept our strengths, weaknesses and that situations that will not change, is both wise and strong. We all have weaknesses, and when we address them we develop the ability to be tenacious in our resolve to become stronger; and at the same moment, we give ourselves permission to be human.

During challenging times, my husband will often give this advice, “Life is like a game of golf — It’s a constant game of recovery because sooner or later you will find yourself in the rough.” Any one of these traits — resiliency, self-esteem, love, faith or acceptance — can help us to become strong and recover from the “rough.” When we dedicate our efforts at developing more than one trait, however, we will see exponentially huge rewards in our life and the lives of those we share.

“The weak fall, but the strong will remain and never go under!” — Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl


Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Parenting would be so much easier if my husband and I got divorced

“I think we should get a divorce,” I said, as I thought about what it would be like to sit for more than 30 seconds without listening to a mini-tyrant shouting demands.

“What?” my husband replied, while wrestling a shirt onto our son. Confusion, possibly laced with irritation, settled in the wrinkles near the middle of his forehead.

“A divorce. It would guarantee a break for both of us at least every other weekend. Or more. Think about it.”

“You’re crazy.”

Maybe, but I wasn’t entirely joking. My divorced friends have more time to themselves now than they ever did while married. They have a contractual, court-ordered decree that guarantees them four days (or more) every month without children … or a spouse. It sounds like some sort of Tahitian getaway. Where do I sign up?

I love my kids, but raising two spirited children under the age of 5 leaves very little downtime. I’m on my feet the second they open their eyes and for the 15 hours that follow. Grappling matches over everything from who owns a broken Dory toy to who gets the sliver of crust from my turkey sandwich are hourly occurrences.

Divorce would give me at least a day or two to sleep in, clear my head and recover from the parenting marathon I run most days. There would no objections or surprises, because I’d have an official paper that states: “It’s your turn. I’m off this weekend.”

Even when my husband and I are both home, it’s exhausting. They say it takes a village, but at our house, it takes a tag team jacked up on Red Bull and 12 shots of espresso. Even those wear off before the kids wear down, and at 7 p.m. — the period we call “the storm before the calm” — both kids catch a second wind and turn the marathon into a sprint. We put on happy faces, but at that point, we’re both running on fumes.

My husband doesn’t work a typical 40-hour schedule. It’s not unusual for him to leave at 7:30 a.m. and arrive home well after the kids have gone to bed. In many ways, I’m like a single parent. On the days he is home, there’s life to catch up on: yard work, bills, grocery shopping, excursions with the kids. We don’t have time for ourselves, together or alone.
We also don’t have family nearby who can bail us out or fill in on the occasional date night. 
Given that our kids are a handful, we don’t trust a random babysitter. If they push us to the brink of throwing on some sneakers and taking off like Forrest Gump, imagine someone who is not bonded by blood, or love, watching them for a few hours. The risk is not worth the reward.

Our options are limited, and divorce seems to have some benefits. And I’m not being silly or selfish.

According to a study published in the journal Demography, happiness has a scientific correlation with being a parent. The study revealed that before having kids and during pregnancy, people were pretty darn happy. After? Not so much. Parenthood surpassed other major life events, such as divorce and unemployment, in causing drops on the happiness scale. Maybe if more parents had a chance to catch their breath, the real smiles would return. I can vouch for that.

Research also shows that divorce is not all that devastating for most children. Sure, it comes with some consequences and a huge adjustment period, but overall, kids bounce back. A 20-year study conducted by psychologist Constance Ahrons, and published in her book “We’re Still Family,” showed that about 80 percent of children of divorce adapt well and have no lasting negative effects on their grades, social lives or mental health.
Child-development expert and Cambridge University professor Michael Lamb analyzed thousands of studies conducted over the past four decades. He concluded that children do well when their parents or caregivers get along. But those parents don’t need to be married or living in the same house.

So where does that leave parents, like me, who are in desperate need of a break? Ending the marriage could be the answer. Debunking the long-standing belief that divorce does not make people happier, a recent study suggests that while it can be difficult, it’s well worth it for some individuals.

While I’m desperate for a little me time, I don’t think I’m one of those people. Despite feeling somewhat envious of happy divorcées, I’m committed to my husband and children. I don’t need a divorce; I need a break. And there are better ways to get some time alone. (If only the bedroom closet offered room service.)

A few days ago, my husband asked, “Were you serious about getting a divorce?” I smiled and shrugged my shoulders as the kids spun around my feet.

While I’ve toyed with the idea of the every-other-weekend divorce vacation, I’m married for the long haul. I owe it to myself, my husband and the kids. But on the off chance that I decide to don sneakers and long, rogue chin hairs, I won’t be trekking across the country. If I run away, I’m heading for Tahiti.


Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Social media is causing 1 out of every 7 divorces

Social media has become really significant in divorce cases

Lately, there have been a flood of studies suggesting how social media is bad for us, but now it appears it's actually breaking up marriages. According to research that was commissioned by a law firm, social media, especially Facebook, is a factor in one out of seven divorces. That puts all those engagement announcements and wedding pictures that pop up in your feed into perspective, doesn't it?

Social media is a veritable breeding ground for competition and jealousy among friends and random acquaintances, so it would only make sense that it would spark similar feelings among couples. If there are already problems in a marriage, it's simply too easy to read into a harmless interaction between your spouse and a friend, and turn it into a reason to have it out with them.

While it's understandable that a couple's online social behavior would cause the occasional tiff, it's hard to believe it could lead to divorce in a number of cases. That in essence is why the firm of Slater and Gordon set out to determine its actual effect on the divorces they handle. They were noticing a significant rise in how often social media was mentioned as a trigger for divorce by their clients, especially considering it was not a factor at all just five years ago.

According to Andrew Newbury, a lawyer at Slater and Gordon, "Social media is the new marriage minefield. Social media, specifically pictures and posts on Facebook, are now being routinely raised in divorces."

Snapchat is also a big Pandora's box for couples, because its design is already secretive. You could potentially be sending tons of sexy photos to someone, and your spouse can never find the evidence, because it just disappears. One self-proclaimed cheating expert says Snapchat is the best way to cover your tracks, but that in turn makes partners even more suspicious of it.

It all seems to come down to trust, or rather lack of trust in unstable marriages. If these unstable couples have access to each other's social media accounts, it's too much of a temptation not to go rooting around, searching for a partner's guilty secrets. Even if a couple is relatively happy, sometimes curiosity gets the better of someone, and they open up a can of worms (aka the private message box).

According to a survey conducted by Censuswide which polled 2,011 husbands and wives, the most common reason married people check their spouse's social media accounts is to find out whether or not they're talking to a "marriage threat."

Moreover, on a less devious note, the research conducted by the law firm found one in five couples fight over something that showed up on social media every day. No wonder divorce rates are on the rise! It's like a constant stream of ammunition that couples can easily use against each other, if they so choose.

These fights most often come out of contact with an ex, secret private messages and posting "inappropriate" photos. It all just feels like a vicious cycle to me. If one person gets irked by a comment (regardless of whether or not it means anything) and then goes searching for more evidence of infidelity, it starts a snowball effect of sneaky behavior. If their partner gets wise to the snooping, they'll probably change their password, which will in turn make the snooper even more suspicious of them. My motto is, if you're looking for something, you'll likely find it, and that can never lead anywhere good.

Just like how the tone of text messages can get misconstrued, so can anything you find on your spouse's Facebook wall. So do yourself a favor — if you're overall happy in your relationship, but you see something that makes you second-guess it, talk it out rather than play detective. It might save you from having to explain how a winky face emoji led to you filing for divorce in front of a judge.


Monday, 27 January 2020

How To Deal With The Awful Stuff People Say When You’re Getting Divorced

You can’t control what people say, but you don’t have to let their words destroy you.

You’d like to believe that people would be kind and compassionate to you when you’re getting divorced. After all it is one of the most stressful things you can go through.

And sometimes you’re lucky, and people are kind and compassionate. But there are always those people who say the most awful things.

Here are just a few of the horrible comments my clients have reported they’ve been told:

“Just get over your divorce already!” – a helping professional, a friend, and a family member

“I knew he was still cheating on you when you reconciled, but I didn’t want to tell you since you were trying to make it work.” – a friend

“Why do you care if he’s seeing someone else? You left him.” – a friend AND a family member

“I don’t know why you married her in the first place. I never liked her.” – a parent

“Oh my GOD! You’ll NEVER make it on your own with those kids. You never should have had them.” – a friend

What’s most painful about this horrible shit that people say is WHO is saying it.

It’s your family. It’s your friends. And it can even be the helping professional you’ve turned to for help.

So on top of the dismantling of your marriage, all the legalities of getting divorced, needing to redefine your relationship with your ex, learning how to co-parent, helping your kids deal with the divorce, and everything else that you’ve got to do to rebuild your life after divorce, you’ve also got to deal with the betrayal of these people you thought you could turn to.

This is exactly when you start to wonder who you can still trust.

Getting divorced is one of the most difficult transitions you’ll ever experience. And yet it can also be one of the most important turning points in your life.

If you know how to deal with the BS that others throw in your direction, you’ll come out of your divorce stronger than ever. And the strength you build now will make your post-divorce life amazing.

So how do you deal with the shit? You keep a few important points in mind.

If they’ve never been divorced, don’t expect them to have anything important to say to you about yours.

Most people who have never been divorced only have TV, magazines and the movies as reference for what getting divorced is like. They have ZERO idea of how long it takes to get over a divorce or how painful it is. So don’t let them take up any of your precious emotional energy or thought with their opinions because they’re ignorant when it comes to divorce.

Just as you wouldn’t ask your mechanic to help you figure out what all the red spots are on your child’s chest, don’t expect your family, friends or maybe even your therapist, clergy or other helping professional who’s never been divorced to be capable of providing helpful opinions about your situation.

Most people are chicken shits.

They aren’t able to have the honest conversations you need right now because it would make them feel uncomfortable.

People will project their limitations and life experience on you.

We all see the world through our own eyes and very few of us can truly step into another person’s shoes to see life through their eyes. The result is that most people will ASSume (yes, I do mean this to imply that they’re making as ass of themselves) that what’s true for them is true for you too.

They may be weak and uninformed, but that doesn’t mean you are. In fact, it takes an incredibly strong and determined person to get through divorce – a person just like you.
Just because you now understand why they’re saying the BS, that doesn’t mean you have to put up with it.

You definitely shouldn’t just accept what they have to say.

One way you can turn their stupidity around is to use it to build a stronger sense of self. And the way you do that is by becoming completely aware of what you’re feeling as a result of their insensitivity.

Then name those feelings. You can either call the emotions what they are, or something more creative, like George, Ringo, Paul and John. Whatever works for you.

Once you know what the emotions are and can name them, you’ll be able to choose how you experience them – because you’re not simply feeling them any more

This power of choice is incredible.

You might choose to continue experiencing the emotions as you have been, or you might choose to experience something else entirely. It’s by deliberately choosing your experience that you strengthen your sense of self.

You can best deal with other people’s fear of being honest be being honest yourself.
Tell them exactly what you think and feel. You don’t need to attack them, but articulating exactly how what they’re saying impacts you will make you feel much more powerful, and you’ll no longer be a victim of their words.

When people tell you that you can’t do something, you can use their negativity as fuel to prove them wrong. You know what you’re really capable of. They don’t. They may be weak, but that definitely doesn’t mean that you are.

We’re all human. We all make mistakes. We all say things we wish we could take back.

The problem is that when other people are way too human when you’re getting divorced, it hurts worse than it might at other times, because you’re already battling a whole lot.
By keeping these ideas in mind, you’ll emerge from the chaos and uncertainty of your divorce a stronger and more confident person – because you’ll have learned beyond a shadow of a doubt that YOU can trust YOU.


Friday, 24 January 2020

Single Fathers Who Support Their Children Without Any Reservations

SAN ANGELO,TX- Raising children as a single parent is never easy. It takes a motivated individual who can lead a household with the day-to-day duties of parenting, while also providing financial support through a full-time job.

According to a 2016 U.S.Census report, single mothers generally represent the majority of single parents. The report shows that out of 12 million single parent families in 2016, about 80 percent were single mothers (9,781,000 families), while single fathers represented 17 percent (2,033,000 families). Though single mothers represent the majority of single-parenting households, it’s important to account for single fathers who also run a household.

LIVE! spoke with two single fathers to get a better understanding of the challenges they face. Both parents preferred to remain anonymous for the sake of their children and families; therefore, LIVE! has changed their names for the purpose of the article.

In the first case, Bob provides for multiple children in his household. After divorcing from his wife, he saw his kids on alternating weekends.

His weekend began by picking up the kids from the mother’s house, and then going grocery shopping to buy all the necessities, including snacks, fruit and meals for the weekend. All of the preparation to maintain a clean house, on top of other duties, would have to be finished through the week with a full-time work schedule.

“I cooked all the time for [the kids],” Bob said. “We would eat and then I would get them prepped for the day; it’s something you just have to do.”

He noted that after the first two years of alternating weekend custody with his ex-wife, he received full custody of the children. After winning custody, Bob's children became a priority to him and he had to find a job that would give him flexible work hours. Thankfully, Bob soon found a job where he could decide his own hours, which allowed him to spend more time with his kids.

“I made sure to have a job were the employer understood my circumstances,” he explained. “If my kids were sick or needed anything, I knew I had their support with putting them first.”

Bob expressed how fortunate he was to find employers like this, as they were hard to find.
However, work can still be unpredictable. If Bob couldn’t get off work, he explained that he still had family members who could be available to help him with any immediate obligations.
“I was thankful to have help from my family during those stressful times,” he said.

Overall, having multiple children in one house can be financially straining. Bob explained that while transitioning into a single-parent household, he had to cut back on some luxuries to account for the new financial responsibility. Bob even had to trade in his pickup truck for a more economically reasonable car.

”You have to budget everything, from food, utilities to clothing,” he said.

Despite the hardships the kids had to endure during their parents' divorce, Bob mentioned the relationship with his kids is strong. Of course, "at the back of [my kids'] minds, they wanted us to get back together," Bob said, as "they miss their mother, but they also knew [the divorce] was for the best."

For Bob, he will do anything to help protect and support his kids.

"Every morning, I wake up and worry about my children," Bob said. "I can't give up; I keep going to make sure they are happy."

The second dad, James, is a father to a daughter whom he only sees on the weekends currently because of his job and school work. While he works on providing for his daughter financially and works to secure a future for them by getting a college education, his family helps care for his daughter. James' parents help him by getting his daughter to school during the work week and watching over her. James expressed his gratitude, saying, “Everyone involved is looking after her, and that takes a weight off my mind."

As James only has weekends together with his daughter, he actively seeks to be a part of her life. James constantly tells himself he works for her benefit. The time he spends away from her is challenging; however, he knows that in the end, the hardships will pay off.

“If I take care of myself financially, then I know she will be taken care of as well,” James said.

Motivating him through life's most challenging moments is the the love and support from his daughter. James is separated from his daughter’s mother, but knowing his child is looked after while he's away makes the transition easier. He said his daughter understands he is busy during the week, and it make the time they have together all the more special.

“I’m a phone call away, and I’m always ready to leave if she ever needs me,” James noted.
He said one key distinction in the relationship of father and daughter is wanting to be a role model.

“You want to be seen as their hero,” James said.
At the end of the week, he knows providing for her is a responsibility that he upholds without any doubt.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to provide for her with everything that she needs,” James added.

As a single dad who works throughout the week and is in the midst of pursuing a college education, many people have questioned his choices; however, he feels that, in the long run, his aspirations for a Ph.D. will open up more opportunities for his daughter.

“I’ve been able to network with people in my career, and this has also helped me grow as a person,” James said. “I believe these experiences have made me a better parent.”
Instead of working a job with limited opportunities to excel, James wanted to pursue a career he was passionate about.

“I don’t want to look back and think that I could have done more for her,” James said. “I want to do the best for my daughter.”


Thursday, 23 January 2020

Life Is Uncertain, But These Things I Know For Sure

In conversations with my therapist, my friends and loved ones, uncertainty comes up often. How will I meet Mr. Right? How, when and where will I find my dream job or land my first client? When will I or how do I start to lose weight? Uncertainty in life often feels like the greatest hurdle to our happiness, but it is actually a huge blessing, we just need a better understanding of its nature and how to move through it. Here are some lessons I have learned about our elusive friend, uncertainty:

Lesson One: No Uncertainty = Boring Life

I know it seems brutally wrong and insensitive. Why can’t I just have a road map that shows me exactly which Starbucks location I need to buy a latte from to meet my future husband? Why can’t someone tell me where I will get my next job opportunity, and if I will get the pay raise I’ve been fighting for?

All these things that cause you angst because you just don’t know the when, where and how of it all are the crux of living. I mean, truly living. Imagine if you had a road map that detailed everything that would happen to you from now until the day you die? How boring! Not only would there be no excitement (and fear and anticipation) in the unfolding of your future, you wouldn’t get the awesome right to shape your destiny as new information and realizations come into your existence; allowing your destiny to remain fluid as you evolve and grow.

You don’t need to love the angst of uncertainty, but the fear and anxiety do not have to stop you from going after what you want in life. Recognize that those emotions are there, take a deep breath, and go for it anyway! Begin to contemplate that the butterflies in your stomach are more than just discomfort — they are life’s way of telling you something exciting and unpredictable is unfolding. Without it, there would be very little to look forward to. If we can begin to embrace it just a little, our life can take on a whole new meaning.

Lesson Two: Temporary setbacks often arrive hand in hand with uncertainty, but success is around the corner (if you refuse to give up)

How often have you heard someone say that getting fired turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to them? At the time, they probably had tremendous anxiety about the situation, yet suddenly out of a really tough situation many of their dreams were borne.
At a recent concert I attended where Aloe Blacc performed, he mentioned that his journey to becoming a successful performer started with the end of a job. He also talked about meeting Dr. Dre for the first time. Dr. Dre didn’t shower him with compliments — he told him his music was good, but he thought Aloe could do better. While I am sure that must have stung a bit, it also forced Aloe to go back to his craft. Arising from ideas that had been simmering in his head for years, Aloe created his hit song “The Man” which was eventually featured in a commercial for Beats by Dre.

You may think life is being tough on you (and only you), and sometimes it is (yet you are not alone), but it will always allow you the opportunity to take something valuable away from the experience. Challenges are there to test your metal, to give you the chance to go back to the drawing board, and dig deeper inside of yourself for something that is truly amazing. Everyone who pursues a dream will encounter challenges before bringing that dream to fruition.

In his book Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill states that: “Before success comes to most people, they are sure to meet with much temporary defeat, and perhaps some failure. When faced with defeat the easiest and most logical thing to do is to quit. That is exactly what the majority of people do. More than 500 of the most successful people America has ever known told the author their greatest success came just one step beyond the point at which defeat had overtaken them.”

Lesson Three: You have to know what you want (Plus it’s fun to imagine what you want in life)

As Paul Arden said in his book It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be, “Your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have. Without having a goal, it’s difficult to score.” For example, you are dreaming of leaving your boring job in the cubicle doldrums. One day you are complaining of the job you despise, and someone asks you what your dream job is — but you can’t answer the question!

You need to spend more time thinking about your innate talents and desires, that little voice inside that is screaming at you to do something that will make your heart sing. I always heard people say “do what you love” and “what you would do for free.” Yet having listened to that, it has taken me a long time to figure out what that thing was. I finally discovered it was writing and communications. I have been writing since I was a tween and I am in my mid-30s now! Last year alone, I hated my job, and I kept getting all these little freelance opportunities that involved writing and communications. I would ask myself the question, “Hmmmm... I wonder what the universe is trying to tell me?” Long story short, I finally figured it out — the thing I loved was writing. The universe had smacked me upside the head with a few two by fours, and I finally got the message.

Get a journal and write down what you want in a life partner, a career and life in general. Create a vision board with all the fun images of what you want your life to look like, now and in the future. Spend more time in your imagination, picturing all the awesome things that would happen in your life (if reality didn’t seem to be in the way). Maybe, just maybe, reality will start to adjust to accommodate your desires. It has for me!

Lesson Four: You have to remain open and have faith in your dreams (and yes, it usually takes longer and is bumpier than you expect)

In his 2005 commencement speech at Stanford, Steve Jobs said, “Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.” This is from a guy who is revered and changed the world as we know it. He was specifically referring to when he had been fired from Apple, the company he founded. He was devastated and debated leaving Silicon Valley. But somehow he found a way to forge ahead, doing something he loved, and well, the rest is history.

We have everything worked out, but when it doesn’t work out how we planned, the voices in our head go crazy — I was supposed to be working by now. I was supposed to be further along in my career by this age. This is something I should have done in my 20s. I am too old to reinvent myself. Who is going to want to date me at this age, with this disease, with children, with a divorce, with this set of couch cushions?! Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

I’m telling you, if life pushes you then it is just begging you to push it back. It has something great in store for you if you just refuse to give up and keep true to the vision of what you want your life to be. Life is not easy for anyone, but the people that have “made it” are those that forged through the rough and murky waters of life. Remember the stories of Aloe Blacc and Steve Jobs — they struggled through numerous challenges before succeeding. Even Winston Churchill’s defining moment occurred in his mid-60s during World War II. You never know when a turning point in your life will occur, but you must have faith, you must know what you want, and you cannot give up. And yes, you may feel like giving up, have a bad day, or hide out until you figure out what your next move is. Let it flow, and let it go!

Transition and discovery is the marrow of life. It is overwhelming, sometimes exhausting, and often exhilarating; without it we are bored, predictable, listless and underwhelmed. In the words of Ayn Rand inThe Voice of Reason, “Don’t ever give up what you want in life. The struggle is worth it.”


Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Why Social Media Causes Divorces, And 7 Ways It's Ruining Your Relationship

Although according to U.S. Rates and Statistics, the divorce rate has been on the decline since 1980, the fact remains that there are people out there still getting divorced. While it may not be as high as the 50 percent rate that has long become the go-to stat, no marriage is perfect which means no marriage is safe from divorce. While experts try to predict what leads to divorce as means to lessen the amount of them, in the past few years there's been a new factor: social media is a reason why people get divorced.

You may think that your little flirtations with your crush from high school are NBD, but the truth is that some partners don’t like that behavior. Whether you’re in a long-term relationship or married, Facebook, and the Internet in general, can be sources of temptation and drama. According to family law firm McKinley Irvin’s new infographic, with one in three marriages ending because of an online affair, Facebook and are playing big rolls in the reason people divorce. And the problem with Facebook is that the evidence is all right there ― unless you’re smart enough to delete your tracks, of course.

From jealousy to creeping in on their partner’s social media accounts to divorce because of online behavior, here are seven ways social media is ruining your relationship.

1. More Than 10 Percent Of People Say Facebook Is A Source Of Jealousy And Danger

According to 15 percent of people, social media is absolutely dangerous to their marriage, while 16 percent can point their fingers to Facebook as causing jealousy in their relationship. The threat is so real that 14 percent of adults admit to combing through their partner’s social media accounts looking for evidence of cheating, virtual or otherwise.

2. Facebook Usage Is The One Reason Couples Fight

As the McKinley Irvin study found, it’s not just what a partner does on social media (liking every photo of their ex, maybe?), but the amount of time they spend on it. When it comes to the biggest arguments in couples about social media, the complaint is always how much time a partner wastes on it.

3. A Third Of People Keep Their Social Media Passwords From Their Partners

While marriage is supposed to be about everything, for a third of social media users, keeping their passwords private from the prying eyes of their partners is a must. The study also found that one in 10 of adults admit to hiding certain posts or message from their partners on Facebook.

4. Less Than 10 Percent Have Secret Social Media Accounts

For those who are just tired of hiding their behavior on social media from their partner, getting really sneaky is the best way to go. It’s that group, eight percent of adults, who just have a secret social media account all together. At least that way they can’t feel bad about hiding posts or changing their password every other day to really make sure their partner is clueless, right?

5. A Quarter Of Couples Fight About Facebook Weekly

Whether it’s because of Facebook usage or a partner’s behavior on it, for 25 percent of couples Facebook causes a fight at least once a week. People are fighting about it so often, that Facebook leads to confrontation in one in seven married couples, forcing the discussion of divorce to come up.

6. A Fifth Of People Doubt Their Relationship Because Of What They’ve Found On Facebook

According to the study, one in five people have found something on Facebook regarding their partner that has made them feel “uneasy” in their relationship. But despite that less than half of spouses confront their spouses about their discovery.

7. Majority Of Lawyers Use Social Media Evidence In Divorce Cases

As McKinley Irvin points out, what a partner “shares” on online can also be shared in a courtroom during a divorce case. In fact, 81 percent of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers have used social media as evidence in cases, with the top three being state of mind while being on social media, communications on it, and the time and place of said events.


Tuesday, 21 January 2020

After Divorce, Giving Our Kids Custody of the Home

The Fourth Grade Parents’ Night Out is in full swing. These adults-only gatherings, potluck style with plenty of cocktails, are a tradition at my sons’ school. A new couple introduces themselves and we make small talk over glasses of wine while I wait for the inevitable question.
There it is, from the wife, looking around the room: “Who’s your husband?”
We’re divorced, I explain. He’s with the boys tonight.
We live in a traditional, smallish Midwestern city. Midwesterners are not big on sharing. Getting too personal makes us very nervous. Most often, as soon as I say divorce the conversation is quickly changed to a less embarrassing topic. So… how ‘bout those Colts!
But the wife leans in, curious. “So do the kids live with you? What’s your arrangement?” (She must not be from around here, I muse.)

I roll into my pitch. Not that I’m trying to sell anything. I’ve just found the more succinctly I state it, the easier it is for others to digest (hand gestures help).
“Our living arrangement’s kind of unusual. The boys stay in the house [hands together in front of me, fingertips touching like I’m holding a big snowball] and their dad and I have separate apartments [right hand out to the side; then left hand]. We move in and out every week [right hand in; then move left hand in, while moving right out] to take care of them,” [hands back in front holding the precious snowball].
I stop flopping my hands around and wait for a reaction. The shocked silence and confused expression, I’m used to. Her eyes welling up with tears? That’s new.

What I’m describing is called “bird nesting” or “nesting.” It’s based on the idea of the kids being like baby birds and the mother and father birds flying in and out of the nest to take care of them. This means, in non-ornithological terms, that after a divorce the kids continue to stay in the family home while the parents take turns moving in and out.
In our case, my ex and I each have our own apartments where we live when we’re not in the house with the boys. We switch into the house on Wednesday mornings and Saturday evenings. The boys and all their stuff — clothing, homework, sports gear, musical instruments, and piles of beloved childhood detritus in their rooms — stay put.

I read about the idea in Laura Wasser’s great book, “It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way: How to Divorce Without Destroying Your Family or Bankrupting Yourself.” Nesting struck a chord with the boys’ dad and me. We hoped keeping the routine of daily life as consistent as possible would give continuity as we figured out what divorce would mean for our family. Of course, changes were going to come. We hoped if their day-to-day life didn’t feel that much different, it could temper the fear and uncertainty.

When we sat them down to tell them we were getting a divorce – they were 12, 9, and 5 at the time — the very next thing we said was: But nothing’s changing for you. You will keep living right here.
We presented it with familiar scenarios: It’s like when Dad goes on a business trip for a few days and Mom takes care of you. Or when Mom goes to see her friends and Dad’s in charge.

When we were divorcing nesting was almost unheard-of, at least in our part of the country. Anita M. Ventrelli, former chairwoman of the American Bar Association’s family law section, said she recalled the concept surfacing about 10 years ago, but she did not think anyone was keeping track of how common it is.
“Nesting isn’t really something that’s in the divorce statutes,” she noted. “It’s a solution that creative lawyers and parents have developed to address concerns about moving kids. It’s often agreed to outside of court — a creature of settlements, not something that judges would likely order.”
Describing it to our lawyers, therapists and financial adviser took some explaining and forced us to answer some tough questions. Telling family, friends and the boys’ teachers, required clarifying and repeating (hence the elevator-pitch-with-hand-gestures).
The most frequent question? How long are you going to do that?
The best answer we could come up with was, I don’t know, I guess until we decide not to?
We’re moving into year three, and our answer is still the same.

Which is not to say it’s easy. There are hassles, for sure – shared space, finances, and keeping track of my own stuff between the house and my apartment.
For couples considering nesting, Ms. Ventrelli, a senior partner at Schiller DuCanto & Fleck in Chicago, suggests three questions: “Is this something my ex and I can both agree to do? Can we each find somewhere else to live when not in the nest? Can we work together to share and care for the nest?” If you can’t say “yes” to all of these, Ms. Ventrelli cautions, “You may find challenges of nesting make it unsustainable, though it could serve as a short-term solution until the divorce is settled.”
Nesting isn’t necessarily the answer for everyone. But there’s no reason the traditional post-divorce scenario has to be the go-to solution, either.
So many memories live in a family home. The boys continuing to live there – and all of us crossing paths there regularly — is a constant reminder to all of us. While our narrative is ever-changing, we were and always will be our version of a family.

As for my new friend at the school party?
“Oh my God, if my parents had done something like that, it would have made such a difference,” she says, wiping her eyes and glancing with embarrassment from her husband to me.

“It was 30 years ago but I will never forget my little sister sobbing uncontrollably every time we had to move houses. It was awful.” Her eyes tear up again. “I’m so sorry I’m getting so emotional!”
“That’s O.K.,” I say, my eyes welling up, too. “You just made me feel like what we’re doing might actually all be worth it.”


Saturday, 18 January 2020

How Not to Commit Social Media Suicide During Your Divorce

It’s very difficult to restrain yourself when under attack, but there are several reasons why it’s not a good idea to go on a rampage.

Are you going to get really mad at your ex during divorce? Will there be people who stick their nose in your business, gossip about you, and think the worst of you? The answer to all of these is yes! The emotional entrée’ of divorce and all of the nasty side dishes of rumors and conflict make for a terrible case of indigestion! You will be tempted to blow your top, run in circles trying to set the record straight, and agonize over every misconception and damaged relationship.

Be careful! This is not the time to get an itchy trigger finger and start firing off retaliatory shots in all directions!

As satisfying as it could be to publicly shame your ex for his actions and give the court of public opinion a piece of your mind, what this situation calls for is dignity and self-control. It’s very difficult to restrain yourself when under attack, but there are several reasons why it’s not a good idea to go on a rampage!

Seven Reasons NOT to Commit Social Media Suicide:

1. “Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law…” is not just the line from when police make an arrest. Oh, no, this is the cold hard reality of how your words, pictures, and other actions on social media can come back to bite you hard in court! Never put anything in writing that you wouldn’t want the judge of your divorce case (or your kids, your boss, your grandma…) to read! Ask yourself if what you’re about to post is worth affecting custody and other factors of your divorce?

2. Have you ever seen what gasoline does when you add it to a fire? Kaboom! If things are already messy because others are making it so, your involvement is only going to turn up the animosity a notch, and nothing good is going to come from that!

3. Do you really want the dirty laundry from your personal life on display for the world? You may not have started this war, but going on a rant about your dirtbag ex and all the sordid details of your life disaster is nothing short of embarrassing. Some of your acquaintances may be inclined to pull up a chair and a big bowl of popcorn to watch your soap opera play out, but do you really want to be everyone’s cheap entertainment?

4. Do you want to prove your ex right? If your ex is the type to portray you as a crazy, volatile person who’s impossible to live with, the last thing you want to do is make a starring appearance on social media showing him and the rest of the world how psycho you really are!

Bite your tongue. Take deep breaths. Now, conduct yourself as a poised, rational, and sane individual who can’t be bothered to attend the crazy ex-position. You may never have your day in the sun to attack your ex’s allegations, but your dignified approach will make everyone else question what’s been said about you! Who’s really the crazy one here if you are so normal and appropriate while they keep running their mouth and throwing mud?
As I always say; “if someone’s going to be a jerk, let it be them!”

5. Who are you, and how do you want to be seen? Once something hits the internet, it’s very unlikely to be completely erased. I still get flashback memories on Facebook from during my divorce days and am either reminded of what a dark and sad time that was (but, yippee! I’m no longer living that!), or I shake my head and think “did I really say that out loud in front of hundreds of people?”

Think about it, if your kids aren’t on social media yet, they most likely will be one day, and it’s doubtful that you won’t want them to see where you posted that their dad was a hypocritical hot head (my bad). I recognized that I was letting social media become a little too much of my personal journal. In some ways I did want people to see what I said because I wanted to be able to tell my side. In other ways, I just needed someone to talk to. Figure out what your motivation is and decide if there might be a healthier way to fulfill your needs!

6. Drama is a turn off. Initially most people probably won’t be able to take their eyes off of the destruction that is your marriage. It’s like a horrific ten care pile-up that everyone driving past has to rubberneck to catch a glimpse of. The juicy details are tantalizing and awesome fodder for the gossip mill. I promise you, though, that before long most people do not, I repeat, do not want to hear about your divorce!

What divorcing people often need most at these frustrating times is an understanding ear to confide to. There is so much raw emotion, and it’s very healthy to release it. The problem is that most people are secretly freaked out by divorce. Many people will act as though you have a disease and they do not want to catch your cooties and infect their marriage. They will feel bad for you. They will want to help you in some way. They just can’t handle hearing hours of complaining and crying every time they see you.

So, if you are using social media to serve as your caring shoulder to unload on, expect some sympathy and support in the beginning; but, if you relentlessly spill poisonous blather about your ex and your miserable situation, don’t be surprised if, eventually, people start to unfriend or unfollow you. Either what you share or how you are saying it may easily become a major turn off, especially if they were friends with both of you.

7. From your keyboard to your ex’s ear. You may think your contacts on social media are your “friends”, but don’t be surprised if you have some rats among your friend list! During my divorce I went on a massive purge of my friend list of anyone who had a mutual connection to me and my ex because I found that things I said to my “friends” ended up being told back to him. I learned that it can be hard to know who you really can trust, so either tighten your circle, or zip your lips!

The suggestion to remain calm and quiet on social media during a divorce may sound like a tall order. It may require an iron resolve to ignore rumors and mistruths about your situation or to remain dignified in the face of turmoil. You may live to seriously regret sharing certain information or making disparaging comments about your ex or divorce online because, unlike Vegas, what happens on social media becomes everyone’s business!

The bottom line, and what finally brought me peace on this issue, is that when it comes down to it, the people who really matter will stand by you and believe you. If others will so easily be caught up in negative things about you, then you probably didn’t need them in your life!


Saturday, 11 January 2020

9 Ways to Deal with Change

Use these tactics to guide yourself through life-altering events.

Marriage, breakups, career changes, job loss, illness, having children, an empty nest, financial downturns, moving, graduating, losing someone you love. Stuff happens. All of these are common transitions and stress triggers. How do you cope? Here are a few self-coaching tips that can help:

  1. Admit that you feel vulnerable and seek help, which will defuse your negativity.
  2. Become proactive. Those who are empowered look for opportunities to make things better. Victims sit back and worry about what will happen.
  3. Know that you are never stuck with just one feeling. You may feel afraid and optimistic and excited about the same circumstances. Focus on the positive emotions.
  4. Trust yourself based on past successes, asking, When have I managed change before? How did I do that? How did it turn out?
  5. Avoid obsessing about the future. The solutions for how you feel now are usually in the present.
  6. When your future seems to depend on someone else’s actions, you might be inclined to obsess about what-ifs. Instead make the present moment the most important thing in your mind.
  7. Take positive action to get back on track: Put on music and dance in your kitchen; go for a walk; breathe deeply; read something inspirational.
  8. Quiet your mind briefly so you can see a fork in the road with a positive outcome. Find something you’re grateful for or remind yourself that things have a way of working out.
  9. Get out of your own head. Many people ease their stress and fears quickly with meditation, with prayer or by helping someone else.

Friday, 10 January 2020

Embrace Your Transformation to Thrive After Divorce

Anyone who has gone through a divorce knows there’s a period of time when survival is the goal. The numbness has worn off and the pain from a non-physical event feels all too real. But it begs the questions: Is it possible to thrive after divorce, instead of merely surviving? 

That was the question I asked myself as I navigated through the stages of grief {denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance}. Never one to settle, I wanted to stop feeling okay and start feeling great. I wanted to learn the lessons I was supposed to learn, lest I be destined to repeat them, and expand into a bigger and better life for myself and my daughter.
I realized in order to thrive, I needed to embrace my new life rather than resist it. My divorce became an “opportunity for growth” instead of a disaster, and I embarked on a transformation that was painful but completely worth it! The period of time during and after my divorce led me to what is now a large portion of my life’s work: helping people transform after divorce. The Single Mom Transformation Program was created from my work as an executive coach, and The Successful Single Mom book series was born so others could experience their powerful, positive transformation. 
If you’re ready to embark on your post-divorce transformation, you’re in for some hard work but the reward is a major treat called “your new life.” This will be the beginning of some of the very best years of your life, if you want them to be!
Here are some action steps to get you started:
1) Forgive, forget and start moving on. It’s hard to let go. It may seem easier to stay mad, try to get revenge, lick your wounds and feel sorry for yourself. But hey - listen to me now: You deserve better than to wear your divorce on your sleeve and your face. If you think people can’t see and feel your divorce on you, you’re wrong. We can, must like animals and children smell fear.
2) Decide. Every transformation begins with a decision, in this case, the decision you make changes the course of your life: “I’m deciding to make the best of my divorce, instead of letting my divorce get the better of me.
3) Respond. You’re not a victim, and today is the today to “respond” instead of “react” to whatever is happening in your life. You are in the driver’s seat from this day forward, and you get to make 100 percent of the decisions affecting your happiness and your future.
4) Envision. The old vision you had of your life is something to let go of, and in it’s place put a vibrant, healthy, delightful and joy-filled vision that gets you excited just thinking about it. Excited people thrive, it’s a fact, and it’s time for you to be one of them.
5) Make a list, and check it twice. If you’re like I was after my divorce, there are a whole list of things you’ve wanted to do, places you’ve wanted to go, experiences you’ve been dying to try but putting off ... many of them for years and years. Create an actual list and get busy living your life, and crossing things off of your list with vim and vigor. In other words, start living your life! 
Thriving after divorce isn’t impossible, au contraire, it’s actually very possible. You can do it by beginning today, and every day after today recommitting to the new life you’re creating.

Thursday, 9 January 2020

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!