Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Every Day Can Be A Starting Point: Make a New Beginning

Every day of your life is a new beginning, not just the first day of the year.

You can make Daily Resolutions, not just New Year Resolutions. Any day is suitable for making them.

Regard every day as the beginning of your new, better, and happier life. Start every day of the year with feelings of happiness and with the anticipation that great and wonderful things are going to happen.

Regardless of your circumstances, begin every day of the year with a smile, hope and expectations. You are not cheating yourself, because this attitude, if you persevere with it, would make you a more positive and happy person.

Every day, restate your goals and your decisions for your new, happy and successful life. At the same time, be open to new ideas and opportunities, and for ways to achieve your goals.
If you look at each day as new beginning, you will feel happier, more energetic and more motivated.

Often, people make New Year Resolutions, but either do nothing to carry them out, or start and then quit. This creates feelings of frustration, unhappiness and failure.

You don’t have just one opportunity to carry out a decision or achieve a goal. If you failed to carry them out, you don’t need to wait for the beginning of the next year. You can make a new resolution every day, and you can start again every day, if you failed in your first, second or even third attempt.

There are no limitations on making new decisions and forming new goals, and there are no limitations on when to begin doing new things. Every day is suitable for making a resolution and a new beginning.

Every day is a new beginning and the start of your new life.

The question is whether you carry through what you decided and promised. This is most important. What’s the use of making decisions and promises, but not following them through?

Do you make New Year Resolutions?

If you do, do you try to carry them out?

If you begin to carry them out, do you persevere until you accomplish them?

It is simple and easy to make New Year Resolutions, or any other decision at any other time of the year. Often, they are made in response to some emotion. However, people quite soon, lose the motivation and enthusiasm, and continue living the same kind of life, without doing anything to improve them.

This is why you need to make resolutions and repeat them every day. It is not enough to state them just once, when the New Year begins. It would be a good idea to write them down on a clean sheet of paper, on the screen of your computer, or on your smartphone, so you can see them, read them, and think about them every day.

You need to repeat your resolutions every day, with belief and faith, and be willing to do whatever it needs to accomplish them, not just repeat the words with your lips. You need to keep expecting success, happiness and health, no matter in what circumstances you live.

This attitude would trigger your subconscious mind to help you and to motivate you.

You might wish there was some kind of magic to carry out your decisions, promises and goals. There is, and it is made of motivation, persistence, willpower and self-discipline. These are the powers that would change your life and make them interesting, happy and fulfilling.

“Every day brings a chance for you to draw in a breath, kick off your shoes, and dance.”
– Oprah Winfrey

“Every day is a new beginning. Treat it that way. Stay away from what might have been, and look at what can be.”
– Marsha Petrie Sue

Source: https://www.successconsciousness.com/blog/goal-setting/every-day-is-a-new-beginning-and-the-start-of-your-new-life/

Monday, 30 December 2019

Christmas ends in divorce for thousands

Divorce lawyers will have their busiest day of the year today after the long Christmas holiday took its toll on thousands of relationships. 

For many unhappy partners, revelations of a fling at the office party could be the last straw. Other grounds for a split include abuse, lack of sex, financial worries, and disappointing presents. 

Online advice centre InsideDivorce.com surveyed 100 UK law firms, as well as 2,000 people who were either married, divorced or separated. It found that nearly one in five of all marriages (19%) was on shaky ground, with partners believing it could end in divorce. 

Almost half (44%) of those surveyed said their sex lives had fallen flat, while one in 10 marriages was entirely sexless. 

Family lawyer Suzanne Kingston, of Dawsons Solicitors, said men or women often came to see a solicitor without their partner’s knowledge, to try to find out about their options. 

The ‘vast majority’ of people who see a solicitor end up proceeding with a divorce at some stage, she said. ‘If you’re not spending time together then the issues between you are not so apparent because they are disguised by what you are doing on a day-to-day basis. 

‘But over Christmas people are spending longer periods of time together. There’s more opportunity to argue. There is also the financial worry and the impact of relatives. And at New Year people often make resolutions and think about what they want for the future.’ 

About two in every five people (42%) blamed a partner’s affair for them contacting a lawyer, with almost half of all women citing infidelity as the main reason for marriage breakdown. 

More than half (54%) of those said they discovered the affair themselves, one fifth of unfaithful spouses confessed, and 4% were told by their partner’s new lover. Some 36% of men – the biggest single male response – cited lack of sex as a reason for divorce. 

More than 1.8m couples will have contemplated divorcing their partner during the Christmas period, according to the Family Mediation Helpline. And Relate, the UK’s largest provider of relationship support, said the trend to kick-start divorce proceedings in January follows a 50% surge in the number of calls over the festive period. 

Three quarters of New Year divorces are instigated by women. But according to Paula Hall, a relationship psychotherapist at Relate, this might just be because they are the ones who get around to it first. She said the New Year was an important time for people to assess thier lives, and couples who had already separated might decide to take the final step and divorce. ‘Doing the divorce is a significant step to closing the door,’ she said. 

Derek Bedlow, managing editor of InsideDivorce.com, said: ‘Basically, Christmas is a nightmare for anyone with even a remotely shaky relationship. There are just so many opportunities for things to go badly – from rowing about which in-laws are coming to dinner, to disappointing presents, to discovering a loved one has misbehaved at an office party. It’s a relationship minefield. 

‘People are quicker to throw in the towel on a bad marriage than ever before. The trend is definitely to move on as soon as you know it’s truly over – rather than clinging to the wreck of a bad relationship for year after year.’

Source: http://metro.co.uk/2009/10/26/christmas-ends-in-divorce-for-thousands-369834/

Saturday, 28 December 2019

6 Simple Steps to Make Happiness Happen

Happiness is a funny old thing. We all want it yet we rarely know how to get it. Many call it their purpose in life and say "life is too short to be unhappy". I agree with both, but I know it's not easy for everyone. It certainly wasn't easy for me—until I changed.

Growing up, I remember many saying "do this" or "do that" or "do whatever makes you happy." I know every single one of those comments were given with the desire to help. But the only thing they did was leave me more confused. What was life really about? What made me happy? What actually is happiness?

Worst of all, there was no option to study "happiness" in school. No one taught me what happiness was all about. No one gave me a lesson on what I should do to become happier. I was a little lost, to say the least.

That's why I was absolutely mesmerized when I discovered the field of positive psychology which is also known as the science of happiness and human fulfillment. I got so into it that I left my corporate job to pursue a Masters of Science in it! Finally, I was going to get the answers to my questions about happiness. Finally, someone was going to tell me what happiness actually is and how you can actually reach it.

Now, having come through to the other, happier side, I want to share my biggest steps to happiness with you. These are the ones that transformed my life and turned me into the trained optimist that I am today. These are the ones I practice and preach religiously as The Happyologist®:

1. Learn what happiness actually is and what it is not.

There are too many myths about happiness out there that do nothing except hold you back from being happy. Familiarize yourself with positive psychology to get scientific backing to your happiness journey. All it takes is a book, an online course, or a conversation with an expert to get some facts straight.

2. Discover your unique happiness.

As with most things, there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to happiness. That means you need to get to know yourself to understand what it is that makes you feel happy and fulfilled. Reconnect with your values, your strengths, and your purpose to build a strong foundation for your happiness journey. Then, let them lead you to a life that aligns with them.

3. Shift your perspective to a positive one.

A big chunk of your happiness comes from what goes on in your head and how you choose to perceive the world. That's why fostering a positive perspective is super important. But before you go all Pollyanna on me, let me be clear about one thing: being positive doesn't mean ignoring or shutting out the negative. Instead, it's about acknowledging the problems that you are faced with and believing in your abilities to overcome them. It's about being honest about how you feel and knowing that you will feel better again. Basically, it's about having perspective.

4. Foster your relationships.

As a human being, you need other people not only to survive but to thrive. You are your happiest when you are surrounded by your loved ones. That's why it is critical that you make the time to build and sustain strong, meaningful relationships with the people you love.

5. Use your body.

Too often we get stuck in one place, in one position for too long and before we know it, we haven't moved for three hours (if not longer!). The human body isn't designed to sit at a desk all day so make sure you are getting up, stretching or doing some kind of movements regularly.

Your body affects your mind more than you think and if it's feeling sluggish, lethargic, or low, it's difficult for your mind to feel anything else. That's why moving throughout your day, as well as having dedicated exercise sessions daily, greatly influences your happiness. Also think about clever ways to move your body that will up your mood, like hugging or smiling.

6. Make time to be still.

If your life is a mad dash from one thing to the next, happiness will have a hard time catching up to you. Make sure you're taking the time to slow down, reflect, and to simply be. This is one way you can connect with yourself in a deeper way and perhaps even get clear, intuitive answers to questions you've been pondering for weeks.

In short, there are many things you can do to welcome happiness into your life but none of them have to be difficult. Sure, some things like changing your mindset will take some time, but if you put the right effort in it will turn into a habit that will fuel you for the rest of your life.
In the end, remember that you are a human being, not a human doing. If you slow down long enough, your contentment might just come then and there.

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-path-passionate-happiness/201709/6-simple-steps-make-happiness-happen

Friday, 27 December 2019

Resilience: Saying Yes to Life

Maintaining mental health in the face of adversity

Fall seven times, stand up eight. Japanese proverb

The word resilience conjures up many images: a child getting back on her bike after taking a tumble; an Olympian crossing the finish line with a broken leg; an elderly couple flourishing with hope and kindness, despite a lifetime of unthinkable traumas. To the naked eye, resilience involves courage and perseverance. Maybe even some luck. But science paints a picture that is all but straightforward. According to Professor Raffael Kalisch from the German Resilience Center at the University of Mainz, resilience is not a fixed personality trait that one is born with. Nor can it be captured neatly in a brain scan. Rather, it is an outcome of a dynamic process of adaptation. While a lot remains to be discovered about the processes that set in motion our resilience mechanisms, researchers like Kalisch are shedding light on how humans maintain their mental health in the face of adversity. Training resilience, it appears, has a lot to do with self-efficacy (our confidence in our abilities to handle challenges), appraisal style (the way we evaluate situations and events in our lives), and our general attitude towards life.

Here is Dr. Kalisch on resilience.

Stress affects our psychology and biology

“There are many findings indicating that people undergo changes while they are exposed to stress. We don't stay the same - not only psychologically, but also on a molecular level. Sometimes those stress responses are adaptive, and sometimes they are maladaptive. For example, there was a study on US soldiers before and after war deployment. Those who developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after the war showed enhanced expression of genes related to inflammation. But those who didn't develop PTSD, in other words, the resilient ones, had switched on gene networks related to wound-healing. It’s not that resilient people are simply inherently strong or insensitive to stress and thus stay the same after stress. Rather, resilience is a sign of a successful adaptation.”

Resilience can be trained

“While we need to know much more about the processes to really understand the mechanisms of acquiring resilience, you can learn to habitually appraise things from different, more optimistic perspectives. That is, you can learn to avoid overestimating the probability of negative outcomes. You can learn self-efficacy, which means you can appraise challenging situations as challenging - but not as a threat, because you know you can do something about them. Safety learning or extinction learning, for example, is also very important. If you have learned that something is dangerous, you begin to associate those stimuli with your traumatization (e.g. fireworks that sound like war noise). But when you are no longer in that situation, you learn that those stimuli don't predict danger anymore (fireworks are just fireworks). You start to extinguish your fears by learning that the stimuli are now safe. In other words, you exchange negative appraisals by more positive ones. This helps prevent the development of PTSD. This is also what we do in behavioral therapy when working with patients with PTSD. If you are good in identifying periods of safety in your life when you don't have to be stressed, you can avoid wasting your resources and use this time for replenishing them and building your relationships.”

Fine-tune your stress responses

“You need stress responses. They are necessary because they help you survive. But they need to be optimally regulated. If you experience too many unnecessary stress reactions, then your likelihood of getting a stress-related disorder is relatively high. Fine-tune your stress responses to an optimal level. Safety learning and extinction are ways to regulate stress responses, because you restrict your stress responses to those stimuli that are actually predictive of threat. If a stimulus no longer predicts threat, there is no point in being stressed.”

It’s what you make of a situation

“Let’s think about how the stress reaction comes about. You have a stimulus that may or may not be threatening. On the other end, you have the stress response. In between those two events, there is a gap where you can interpret things. It’s always what your mind makes of a situation, not the situation itself. One key to optimal stress responding is in how you appraise situations. For an optimal stress response, try turning down your overly negative appraisals where you overestimate the threat or catastrophize about the negative impact of the stress response itself.”

Be realistic and optimistic

“You need experiences with overcoming challenges to develop a realistic and a mildly optimistic (not negative) appraisal style, i.e. a positive appraisal style. That’s when after going through difficulties, you realize that things turned out a little better than you might have presumed. If, in addition, you have a generally positive outlook in life, a “say-yes-to-life” attitude, going out there and making experiences is probably the best recipe for protection against future hardships.”

One way to learn resilience?

“Live! Experience life. Develop courage and your own perspective, not necessarily following the prescribed ways of your culture, social environment or your past. If you go through life thinking there is no hope, and that things and humans are bad, then that would be difficult. But if you are open-minded, positive and curious, then you can develop your own resilience strategies.”

Look for meaning

“We humans are always in search of meaning. That’s what gives us motivation and something to live for. Meaning transcends us and our own lives. If you have a positive perspective and see meaning in life, then you can view many things that distress others in a positive light. In this way, meaning is like a defense, because it can help you create positive appraisals and to produce stress responses that are optimal.”

Write your own self-help book

“Resilience is something extremely individual. It’s fascinating to talk to people who have gone through very difficult times and have remained positive and mentally healthy. They often did not have a therapist, yet somehow, by themselves, they figured out coping strategies that worked for them. They stayed open to influences from other people, literature and philosophy. Then at the right moment, an idea or an inspiration came into their life, helping them to switch to a new perspective. I think an effective way to develop your own strategies, habits and style of resilience – even more than reading self-help books – is adapting a positive philosophy and going through life with courage and creativity.”

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/between-cultures/201707/resilience-saying-yes-life

Thursday, 26 December 2019

How Emotionally Strong People Avoid Giving in to Anxiety and Stress (It’s Fascinating)

You don’t always have to accept reality.

Remember those old Road Runner cartoons where Wile E. Coyote would accidentally run off a cliff? And he’d spend a few seconds suspended in mid-air, tentatively dabbing the nothingness beneath with his toe, as if to reassure himself that the ground was still below him?

As viewers, we all know that the second Wile looks down and confirms the reality of his situation, he’s going to plummet to his doom.

Human beings do the same thing all the time. We get ourselves into harrowing situations, we surround ourselves in stress and anxious emotions, but we find ways to delay in the inevitable — we force ourselves to NOT look down — so we can spend a few more seconds walking on air before the universe reminds us that gravity does, in fact, exist.

THAT is the power of denial.

And denial’s unique ability to help people stop themselves from falling into an abyss might actually be a good thing, according to Dr. Holly Parker in her new book, When Reality Bites: 
How Denial Helps and What to Do When It Hurts.

That’s right. Despite what you’ve heard, denial is not all bad.

When you think about it, denial is a huge part of the human experience.

In fact, it might just be the most human part of our experience, because it’s something that only people do.

You won’t ever see a dog pretending it’s not hungry when there’s a steak in front of it, or a cat acting like it doesn’t want to come inside when it’s raining. Denying what’s really going on around us seems to be something that’s singular to human beings.

People can get creative in their attempts to pretend that the truth that’s right in front of them isn’t true — and some people are really, really good at it. You could even say that a few people are experts on the art of “evading the unwanted.”

But are those people happier because of it?

Well, as I learned during my eye-opening read of When Reality Bites, they might be.

Here’s how denial can actually make us healthier and happier…

In her book, Parker talks about everyday experiences with denial that we’re all familiar with. Ignoring the bills piling up until they’re late? Yep. Feeling sad but never making an attempt to change anything? Check! Denying that you’re not feeling well until your body throws in the towel? We’ve all been there.

According to When Reality Bites, denial allows us to “dial” our awareness up or down to where we need to be emotionally in those everyday moments.

This presents humans with a unique opportunity — the option to take a step back mentally and deal with the issue later on in our own time, because there are times in life where we simply “can’t even.” And there are times when we need to deal with anxiety on our own terms.

Denial is a key factor in our ability to take on the world around us — it’s like an emotional filter — and it’s actually pretty cool, because denial can protect us from what we can’t handle in the moment.

For example, we’ve all seen movies where the main character is taken from their ordinary world and finds themselves thrust into Oz, Narnia, or some other fantastic landscape. Often, the first reaction of these characters is to deny their new reality. “Ah, this has to be a dream.”

Denial allows them to stave off the panic of dealing with witches, dragons, and talking animals long enough to let them slowly acclimate to their new surroundings without flooding their brains with anxiety and horror.

It might be frustrating for the viewers at home, because WE know that’s a real witch, but, for the person dealing with the adversity, having that buffer zone of denial allows them to navigate their scary new reality rather than just shutting down completely.

In When Reality Bites, Parker explains that this behavior is normal and that human beings use denial as a tool to deal with both bad and good things.

We’ve already discussed the bad — denial keeps us from realizing that we’ve fallen off a cliff, that bills are due, or that we’re not in Kansas anymore. But denial can also make good things feel even better.

Delayed gratification is a form of denial. That’s when human beings avoid learning the truth about something — what it looks like, how it feels — to delay its pleasure from eventually ending.

We separate soon-to-be spouses on their wedding day, so they won’t see each other until they walk down the aisle. We refuse to hear spoilers about that show we’re dying to watch.

We wait to learn the gender of a baby until they’re born to make their birth even more dramatic.

Denial can not only protect us from painful truths until we’re ready to deal with them, but it can also make good things last longer.

Denial can, in good times and bad, make us feel like possibilities are endless. That the world is a little more magical than it might really be or that we have more doors open to us than we’d ever imagined.

And, whether that’s true or not, denial can provide us with the emotional support we need to prevent ourselves from lapsing into despair and get us back on our feet, searching for new ways to move forward — even if there actually isn’t a cliff below us anymore.

I started reading When Reality Bites completely skeptical that denial could be a healthy emotion, but I’m a total convert now. Sometimes we all need to ignore what reality is telling us and forge ahead on our own paths, for better or worse. If you’re not sure about the redemptive power of denial, pick up a copy of When Reality Bites and see for yourself.

Source: https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/the-fascinating-way-emotionally-strong-people-avoid-anxiety-stress-dg/

Wednesday, 25 December 2019

7 Ways to Get Through the Holidays During Hard Times

While others are baking Christmas cookies and scaling their roofs to hang up sparkling lights, you might not be feeling as sweet and sparkly about the holidays. All of the cheer and merriment of the holidays can shine a bright light on whatever issue you might be facing—a loss of a loved one, the loss of a pet, a year that didn’t go as planned, a relationship ending, or a personal challenge—and you’d rather stay under the covers and wake up when it’s January. It’s tough to be down in the dumps or going through a tough time when everything around you is turning into a Hallmark card and everyone is so darn happy. Going into hibernation til January isn’t practical (or healthy), so I put together a game plan for you to help you through December. And maybe, just maybe, you might enjoy it a little bit too.

1.Pay tribute.

If you are experiencing a loss that has you feeling empty and sad, use your emotions to pay tribute. If you lost a family member this year, you can do this by working on a photo album, writing a personal tribute you can share with other family members, or sharing stories and memories of the person you lost. If your loss is a relationship ending (divorce or a break-up) try to switch the focus and pay tribute to your own life. In what ways have you been neglecting yourself? What are some things you could do for just you that would restore your spirit? If it’s a beloved family pet that you lost, pay tribute and donate some of your time to the local animal shelter or create a positive memory by framing a picture of your cherished pet. Rather than dwelling in a place of loss, take some small steps that create a feeling of comfort in you.

2. There you are again gratitude.

Whether times are great or times are tough, gratitude is the number one instant mood lifter. Take the time out to notice what’s going right. Even if you are going through a difficult personal challenge, there is always something to be grateful for in your life. Think of three things when you wake up in the morning or make a list of all the things you are grateful for when your day ends. You will be reminding yourself to pay attention to and spend some time with the positive.

3. Scan for the things you like.

Maybe you aren’t going through a loss or a specific problem right now, you just don’t like the holidays because you don’t like where your life is at right now. You aren’t quite ready to put a big Christmas bow around your life yet. Remember, your life doesn’t have to be perfect for you to enjoy it. If you feel like your life is a work in progress, put yourself on a mission to scan for what you do like about the holidays. You don’t have to put your happiness on hold just because you have some personal goals still in progress.

4. Invest in your relationships.

When you are faced with an obstacle, it’s your support system that matters most. Lean on family and friends. Reach out. Talk to them. Our relationships make us feel like we are all in this together. Your relationships contribute greatly to your overall well-being. Don’t go solo, let others lift you up. Even better? Grab a friend and take a walk or go to a group fitness class. Moving your body and connecting with friends are two ways to greatly enhance your overall well-being.

5. Do something kind for someone else.

The best way to get out of your own head—especially when it’s a painful or sorrowful place to be—is to redirect your focus to someone else. Giving back to someone else is not only kind, it’s the best way to feel better about yourself.

6. Be open to new traditions.

If people or circumstances in your life have changed to where you can’t have the same holiday that you like to have, simply start new traditions. It might be hard to do things differently if you liked how things used to be, but you have the power to create new traditions for your family to cherish. Start with these questions: 1. What do you want your holiday to be like this year? 2. How can you make that happen?

7. Flood your brain with funny.

Don’t you just love the feeling of laughing so hard you get tears in your eyes? Tune in to the latest episode of Jimmy Kimmel, sit down with your super hilarious friend, or dig out Chevy Chase’s Christmas vacation from the movie archives. Whatever makes you laugh, immerse yourself in it for a little levity and an escape from what’s weighing you down. Laughter really is the best medicine.

December might be painful for you because of what you are going through, but you can make it better with lots of self-compassion and kindness. Even during hard times, you have a choice about what you think and what you feel I hope you even discover some magical moments of joy this holiday season.

Source: https://gethealthyu.com/7-ways-get-holidays-hard-times/

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

9 Rules for Turning Endings into New Beginnings

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

When you can no longer think of a reason to continue, you must think of a reason to start over. There’s a big difference between giving up and starting over in the right direction. And there are three little words that can release you from your past regrets and guide you forward to a positive new beginning. These words are: “From now on…”
So, from now on…

  1. Let the things you can’t control, GO. – Most things are only a part of your life because you keep thinking about them. Positive things happen in your life when you emotionally distance yourself from the negative things. So stop holding on to what hurts, and make room for what feels right. Do not let what is out of your control interfere with all the things you can control. Read The Success Principles.
  2. Accept and embrace reality. – Life is simple. Everything happens for you, not to you. Everything happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon nor too late. For everything you lose, you gain something else; and for everything you gain, you lose something else. You don’t have to like it, but it’s just easier if you do. So pay attention to your outlook on life. You can either regret or rejoice; it’s your choice.
  3. Change your mind. – Change is like breath – it isn’t part of the process, it is the process. In reality the only thing we can count on is change. And the first step toward positive change is to change your outlook. Prepare for the positive. Prepare for the new. Allow the unknown to take you to fresh and unforeseen areas in yourself. Growth is impossible without change. If you cannot change your mind, you cannot change anything in your life. Sometimes all you need to do is look at things from a different perspective.
  4. Hold tight to the good things. – When life’s struggles knock you into a pit so deep you can’t see anything but darkness, don’t waste valuable energy trying to dig your way out. Because if you hastily dig in the dark, you’re likely to head in the wrong direction and only dig the pit deeper. Instead, use what energy you have to reach out and pull something good in with you. For goodness is bright; its radiance will show you which way is up, and illuminate the correct path that will take you there. Read Learned Optimism.
  5. Rest and regroup. – Strength isn’t about bearing a cross of grief or shame. Strength is about choosing your path, living with the consequences, and learning from them. Sometimes you do your best and end up with a mess. When this happens, don’t be discouraged. You tried. That’s really all you can ever do. You have not failed; you just learned what not to do. So rest, regroup, and begin again with what you now know.
  6. Take chances. – Making a big life change or trying something new can be scary. But do you know what’s even scarier? Regret. So realize that most of your fears are much bigger in your mind than they are in reality; you’ll see this for yourself as soon as you face them. Don’t let them stop you. Live your life so that you never have to regret the chances you never took, the love you never let in, and the gifts you never gave out. Read The Magic of Thinking Big.
  7. Keep climbing. – Every person who is at the top of the mountain did not fall there from the sky. Good things come to those who work for them. You gain confidence and grow stronger by every experience in which you truly push yourself to do something you didn’t think you could do. If you are standing in that place of in-between, unable or unwilling to go backwards, but too afraid to move forward, remember that you can’t enjoy the view without being willing to climb.
  8. Appreciate what you have learned. – Nothing is more beautiful and powerful than a smile that has struggled through the tears. Don’t regret your time, even the moments that were filled with hurt. Smile because you learned from it and gained the strength to rise above it. In the end, it’s not what you have been through that defines who you are; it’s how you got through it that has made you the person you are today, and the person you are capable of being tomorrow.
  9. Realize every step is necessary. – Nothing is ever wrong. We learn from every step we take. Whatever you did today was a necessary step to get to tomorrow. So be proud of yourself. Maybe you are not as good as you want to be, or as great as you one day will be; but thanks to all the lessons you’ve learned along the way, you are so much better than you used to be.

Source: http://www.marcandangel.com/2012/09/28/9-rules-for-turning-endings-into-new-beginnings/

Monday, 23 December 2019

Coping with festive holidays when you are divorced or separated

Seasonal and festive holidays like Christmas can be really hard for parents not living with their children. When non-resident parents call our helpline around the Christmas period, they often feel jealous, lonely, sad, angry and resentful. Separated families may feel as though everyone else is enjoying the perfect family festivities, while they feel more isolated and alone than during the rest of the year.

This situation can be distressing and tense and it can really help to talk to someone about how you feel. Some non-resident parents who call us are sad that they can’t watch their children open their presents at Christmas. From a legal point of view, it can be very frustrating for non-resident parents if the resident parent doesn’t grant access over Christmas, but it may be possible to come to an informal arrangement.

It's usually best to start the conversation with your children’s other parent as early as possible, to give yourself plenty of time to come to arrangement about times and days to see the children. If, for example, the resident parent has the children on Christmas Day, you may want to arrange a time on Christmas Day when you can give the children their presents.

You could suggest an arrangement of alternating the years, so that you get to spend Christmas Day with the children every other year. In the other years, you could even arrange a 'fake Christmas', when you get to do all the traditional festive things you like to do with your family, just on a different day. That way, everybody gets to have a full festive experience, and the children get to celebrate twice.

Making long-term plans

Reaching a long term deal and being flexible will work to everyone’s benefit. A separated mother said: “My eldest daughter is going to be with her dad for Christmas day this year. I'm going to miss her terribly but need to be fair to her dad.
“It might sound a bit extreme, but I find it helps to plan what will happen at Christmas a year ahead. I have a rota with my daughter's dad as to who has her when. It doesn’t make it less painful not being with her when it's not my turn, but it makes it easier to plan early celebrations and visits to relatives so no-one feels they're missing out."

Seeing grandparents

This situation can also affect grandparents. The parents of the non-resident parent will be unlikely to see their grandchildren at Christmas which can be upsetting. Like the non-resident parent, grandparents could try to organise a special day, or a time around Christmas, when they could give their grandchildren presents.

One separated parent said: “I find it extremely difficult handling the upset that not spending Christmas Day together causes my daughter’s grandparents who want to see her. We've arranged to have Christmas earlier so we can all be together.”

Another said: “It gets me down that my ex-wife always has the children on Christmas Day and I have to wait for Boxing Day. Some years she has taken them away for Christmas and I haven’t seen them until New Year, which is really upsetting.”

How to make time together special

The time that you do spend with your children over Christmas should be special. Many separated parents try to outdo each other, which is likely to lead to stress and disappointment, as you often can’t live up to the expectations and may end up feeling second best. Similarly, non-resident parents sometimes feel that they must compete with their children’s other parent when it comes to buying presents. When one parent is spending a large amount on expensive gifts, or taking the children on a costly holiday, the other parent may feel that he or she can’t offer the same amount. This can lead to heartache, as parents may feel like they have let their children down if they cannot afford to compete.

Christmas present competition

A separated father said: “My ex-wife always seems to turn Christmas into a competition to see who can outdo the other by buying the ‘best’ presents. Every year I ask her to let me know what she’ll be buying the children so I can make sure I don’t buy the same thing, but she doesn’t. So I feel I can’t get them what they really want in case she’s got there first. In previous years I’ve been delighted to buy them something I knew was on their list, only to have them unwrap it on Boxing Day and say: ‘Thanks Dad, but Mum bought me this too.’ It’s disappointing for the children and means I’ve had to waste a lot of time changing presents afterwards.”

Explaining to your children that you aren’t giving them the presents that they want can be hard, but your children will appreciate your honesty. Try not to give throw-away responses such as ‘because I said so’, but instead justify yourself, telling your child that you don’t think a gift is suitable or is overpriced. You can try to compromise with older children by saying that you will contribute towards an expensive present if they make up the difference.

Parents who have to spend Christmas alone

If you will not get the chance to see your children on Christmas Day, and will be alone, see if you can make arrangements with your friends. If anyone close to you is in the same situation, why not organise to see them; volunteer or invite them round for lunch so that you will not be by yourself. Sometimes the parent living with the children can be caused stress by a non-resident parent who doesn’t want to see his or her children over the festive period, or is unreliable.

It can be heartbreaking to explain that their other parent won’t be visiting over Christmas, but it will be kinder if you remain positive, and try not to criticise him or her too much in front of the children, no matter how angry you feel.

Source: https://www.familylives.org.uk/advice/divorce-and-separation/coping-with-holidays/coping-with-christmas-when-your-divorced-or-separated/

Saturday, 21 December 2019

5 tips for celebrating the holidays with a blended family

Managing the holidays post-divorce is no easy feat. 'Tis the season for tricky schedules and heightened emotions. Here's how to cope.

I love Christmas. Yup, I’m one of those people: belting out schlocky tunes in the car, searching for the perfect ceiling-scraper of a tree, bawling my way through It’s a Wonderful Life. But the emotional and logistical strain wrapped up with the holidays at our house — courtesy of my husband’s four kids from two exes, in addition to our own two little ones — can bring out the Scrooge in me.

There was the time my husband’s then-five-year-old son called to tell us excitedly about the Pokémon toy Santa had delivered — the exact same one waiting for him under our tree. Or the year a tipsy ex-number-one called in the middle of our Christmas Eve party to shout that there was no way she was driving downtown to pick up the kids the next day. You get the picture.

Even for the most happily married couples, the holidays can be fraught with conflict and compromise. It can be exponentially more complicated for the approximately 776,000 Canadian parents who are divorced or separated and raising kids without a new partner. 
Then there are the blended families — almost 13 percent of Canada’s 3.7 million two-parent families are stepfamilies, like mine. Negotiating how to share the kids is never easy, but this is a time of year when it can be hardest to let go. “Christmas is a tough time because there is a lot of tradition and ritual around how the holidays are managed,” says Deborah Moskovitch, author of The Smart Divorce, a book she was inspired to write after her own acrimonious split. “But you have to share it. That’s how you have to look at effective co-parenting.”

Here’s how to ensure your festive season is filled with merriment—not resentment — this year.

1. Make a plan

If you haven’t set a holiday schedule by the time you read this, do it now. “You don’t want the kids to have any angst about what they’re going to be doing at Christmas,” says Moskovitch, who also founded a divorce coaching service. Sit down with your ex and bring a calendar (and, if necessary, a neutral third party, like a professional mediator or trusted mutual friend) to figure out exactly how you’re going to divvy up the holiday break, right down to whether the kids are being picked up or dropped off, at what time, and the things they’ll need to pack. “It can be fluid and change, but it gets rid of any miscommunication,” says Moskovitch.

Trevor Pereira and his ex-wife made their Christmas schedule part of the separation agreement they drew up seven years ago. In even years, he has their two kids for Christmas Eve and morning, then hands them off at noon. In odd years, he picks them up from their mom’s house, still in their pyjamas, and takes them home for brunch and more presents. (To help avoid the aforementioned Pokémon scenario, Pereira and his ex go over the kids’ wish lists together each year to decide who’s going to buy what and how much they’ll spend.) “It’s sad either way,” admits Pereira, an IT specialist from Brantford, Ont. “Either you don’t have them in the morning or you don’t have them in the evening. But at least we both still see them on Christmas Day.”

Luckily for Pereira and his ex, they live in the same town. For co-parents who live in different cities, or even different provinces, it’s not so simple. If you have to kiss your kids goodbye for the entire holiday, says Moskovitch, “make sure you can call and talk to them. They’ll want to know you’re OK.”

2. Focus on the kids

Eileen Ailon, a psychologist and mediator in Calgary, specializes in helping high-conflict couples resolve parenting and custody issues. To keep her clients focused on what’s best for the kids, she sometimes places a picture of the little ones on the table during a session and asks: “What do you think they would really enjoy? What would work for them?”
That can be as simple as letting the kids call mom on Christmas eve or attend a special holiday event with Dad. For mom Maureen Palmer, the answer was more extreme. When she and her husband split up, their daughters, then aged 15 and 10, stayed behind in Edmonton with their dad while palmer took a job as a TV producer in Vancouver. She’d do homework with them every night over the phone and fly back to Alberta for four or five days twice a month (a schedule she kept up for a decade).

“Christmas was very, very big in our family,” she says, and her girls weren’t ready to let that go. So for two weeks every Christmas, she would camp out in her ex-husband’s basement—once even with her boyfriend in tow. “I sort of took over and did Christmas the same way we did when we were married,” says palmer, who went on to make the documentary How to Divorce and Not Wreck the Kids. It wasn’t easy being a guest in her former home, and her need to impose her version of “order” on her ex’s household created tension. “But Christmas morning was so kid-centred, and we both enjoyed their joy so much, that how we felt about each other barely registered,” says Palmer. “We didn’t want them to feel any of the tension kids who are pulled between two households feel.”

While you should always keep the kids’ preferences in mind, Ailon cautions parents against giving them too much input into how they spend the holidays. Kids don’t want the burden of choice “because they know it’s going to make one of the parents really unhappy,” she says. “They’ll tell each parent whatever they feel he or she wants to hear. For most children, that’s a nightmare.” What most kids crave is a predictable schedule that both parents seem happy with, even if that means putting on a brave face. Practise emotional restraint, maturity and leadership. “The most important thing is to continue to be loving parents, and to keep the conflict away from the kids,” says Ailon.

3. Create new traditions

Your holiday celebrations may have changed post-divorce, but it doesn’t mean they can’t continue to be magical. My husband’s first three children were five, three and one when they came to live with him full-time after the split. He didn’t have a ton of money, but he wanted to give them something new and special. Stockings belonged at their mom’s house (either on Christmas morning or afternoon, depending on the year). At their dad’s, a new tradition was born: The kids would tear apart the tree before present time, searching for their very own magic wand, which, when waved, would make packages from Santa appear in front of them. (I’ll never forget the first time I watched this ritual—how adorably frazzled he got trying to place the right gift in front of the right kid before they opened their eyes.) Though his children are grown now —the eldest is 25—come Christmas morning, the four of them still hunker down with their little sister and brother and wave their wands in the air, eyes shut tight.

Building new rituals is an important part of moving on—for you and your kids, says Moskovitch. “Regroup and think about how you want to celebrate the holidays together. Your kids’ traditions are changing, too, so get them happy with what you’re creating.” And though it will be painful, be prepared to let go of some of the activities you used to do before the divorce. In the early years after Moskovitch’s split, when her children were with their dad for the Jewish high holidays, “I’d sit at home saying, ‘Oh, they’re not doing this or that—they’re not celebrating the way I want them to,” she says. “But you can only control what happens when they’re in your environment. Don’t make them feel bad that they missed out on something when they come home.”

And no matter how sad or angry you are, never badmouth your ex in front of the kids. Save the rants for someone with no vested interest in your personal situation, like a therapist or support group. Similarly, Palmer recommends pinpointing what she calls your “negative advocate”—the well-meaning friend or family member who is constantly reminding you of what a jerk your ex is—and asking them to bite their tongue. “Your people love you and they want to be in your corner, but you don’t want to have those conversations,” says Palmer. “They just feed the animosity.”

4. Stay busy

If you’re going to be on your own for the holidays, be prepared. “Plan for it. Don’t think, ‘I’ll be OK,’” advises Pereira. “Because when you’re sitting there, watching those movies you’d typically watch with the kids, it hits you.” On his first childless Christmas Eve, Pereira was grateful to celeberate with other family and friends. These days, he indulges in a quiet evening at home: “I treat myself to something I love to eat and take some effort to pair wines.” Then he watches a favourite Christmas movie before climbing into bed early. Another tactic is to venture out: Volunteer at a homeless shelter, go on a trip or do something special for yourself.

5. Stay hopeful

As a kid, Precious Chong knew the meaning of “amicable divorce.” She spent holidays with her mom, dad, her dad’s first wife, and his older daughters. But Chong’s own split, when her son, Jack, was still a baby, was anything but amicable. Never in a million years did she think she and her ex would get to a good place.

Fast-forward six years, and Chong considers her ex, his new partner and their baby daughter part of the family. She now blogs about her co-parenting adventures and is circumspect about the situation. “My ex and I have a more meaningful relationship now that we’re not together than when were married,” she says.

Though they share Jack 50/50 and have regular family dinners together in Toronto, Christmas is still tricky. They’re supposed to alternate years, but Chong usually takes Jack, now seven, to visit her folks in Vancouver for two weeks over the holidays. “My parents are losing out on spending time with Jack, and my ex understands that,” she says. Sometimes she wishes they could just celebrate Christmas with Jack’s dad and his new family, “and no one would have to sacrifice anything.”

It isn’t perfect—no family is. Chong and her ex still squabble, and emotions can run high. (She was a wreck when Jack’s dad had a new baby, and cried when Jack gave his stepmom a nicer present for Mothers’ Day than he gave her.) But for parents bracing for their first holidays post divorce, Chong’s story is a hopeful one. “It sucks, it really sucks,” she says, describing those difficult early days. “Remember that just because things are hard now, it doesn’t mean it has to be that way forever.”

Somehow, I don’t think we’ll be clinking glasses with either of my husband’s exes this Christmas; that would take a Scrooge-sized miracle. But since having my own kids—and trying to imagine how hard it would be to spend the season without them—I’ve learned to be a bit more patient. Though maybe you should check back in after New Year’s.

Source: https://www.todaysparent.com/family/blended-families-celebrating-the-holidays/

Friday, 20 December 2019

How I survived my first Christmas after a divorce

Divorce lawyer Ayesha Vardag explains how she coped during her first Christmas alone

A few months ago I stumbled upon an old home video. It was from Christmas 1999, the era of fear over millennium bugs, of not talking about Fight Club and, as per my favourtie Cher song at the time, asking whether I believed in life after love.

Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews were singing But Baby It’s Cold Outsideand in the video I was dancing in my pyjamas with my two little boys, then four and two, around our Christmas tree, laughing, unwrapping presents, looking the picture of happiness.

But the reality was, it was one of the most sorrowful times of my life because I was in the middle of a divorce.

We’d had months of hideous to-ing and fro-ing of abortive reconciliation. We’d both got involved in other relationships to escape from the pain of breaking up with the person we had thought five years before was the love of our lives.

I’d messed my new thing up royally but perhaps even more distressingly for me, my ex’s new romance was going along nicely. We’d had an excruciating last family trip to the bleaks of Norfolk and a thoroughly weird attempt at making up involving a tryst in a nudist Lido in Moscow, which was pretty unexpected.

But that Christmas, our marriage was truly over. The lawyers were flexing their muscles, and I didn’t even know if the kids and I could stay in our home.

I used to sit in the dark in the garden after my little boys had gone to bed, chain-smoking, drowning my sorrows in red wine and crying whenever I heard Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Power of Love. I was so miserable and scared about the future that I didn’t know what to do with myself.

Every morning I woke up with a gut-wrenching horror as the sense of loss flooded back in. Loss not only of the apparently great love that had turned, in ways I couldn’t fathom, so cold, angry and lonely, but also of all my dreams of a 'normal' family.

As the only child of a divorced single mother, I had desperately longed for a stable, conventional home. When my husband and I met we fell so madly in love that we got engaged five weeks from our first date. It was a dream come true. He was handsome and clever and funny, we were successful together and we had two beautiful sons.

But it didn't work out and I was so stuck on my desire to live out that dream of a lifelong love, of a two-parent family, that I hung onto it all long after I should have let it go. Hence I found myself in the garden, alone, surrounded by fag ends, singing along to My Heart Will Go On from Titanic.

Christmas puts all that under a microscope. There’s so much pressure to make it merry, fun and happy, especially for children. It meant that facing it that first year after my divorce, from my pit of despair, with an empty place at the table, was terrifying. How could I make a Christmas for the boys, when our family had collapsed around our ears?

My mother, away in the country, wanted us to come to her. It was so tempting. She offered warm Anglo-Scottish hospitality, great food and a whole infrastructure of Christmas cheer. The pull of going back to Oxfordshire, where I’d grown up, to familiarity and support, was so strong that I even thought of moving back there all together, London behind me. The whole package looked great.

But there was a little voice that told me I had to resist all that. Not only should I avoid the seduction of going back to live near my mother, which would feel for me, perhaps irrationally, like a regressive step - instead I should stick my neck out and make that first Christmas work completely on my own.

I’d toddle the boys up the road to help me drag back a tree, I’d go out and buy us traditional food and cook it, we’d curl up on the sofa and watch the Teletubbies and Some Like it Hot. I would prove to the boys and to myself that we were a family, the three of us; that we could have fun and be happy together even without anyone else.

Somehow, that push to make our first post-break-up Christmas great for the boys got me out of my damp chain-smoking hell of self-pity and back in the game. Even if you feel destroyed, even if you want to cry all the time, I challenge you to dance around your sitting room with two toddlers eating chocolate money and singing your heart out to Fairytale of New York without feeling instantly better. Looking at that video, we were all smiling, we were giggling, we were just so happy together.

That was the watershed for me – that was when I knew I was going to make it through the dark times. Just doing Christmas myself, making it work, made me feel so much stronger and so much less afraid of being alone. Forcing yourself out for those who love you and depend on you – and if it’s not children it’s whatever family you’ve made among your friends or community – making Christmas for them and not feeling you need to run away and hide; accepting that the family you have, even if it’s just you and a couple of babies or beloved friends, can be a fantastic family all on its own, that’s the key to survival.

I’m not going to tell you how to do it, if you’re going it alone for the first time. It might be a morning in the pub with friends, cocktails on a beach or hiking through the rainforest. You find the things that will work for you and yours. What matters is to grab that first Christmas on your own, don’t just get through it - really make it something you feel proud of.

I remember talking to the boys around the time they were first going to school, and telling them that yes, my heart had broken when I split up with their Dad, but that they, and they alone, had mended it with their love. They've always remembered that and have sometimes quoted it back to me, and, Polyanna-ish as it may be, it feels so, so true. And that Christmas morning was when it started.

Now, I’m getting ready for the bumper giant Christmas that, nearly 15 years on, my lovely (new) husband and I have planned for his two children and my three (having added a daughter in the meantime). We’re all enjoying the big, solid, family life edifice with which I've somehow been blessed.

But I still look back on that old video, where I was alone with my babies on Christmas day in the midst of devastation, and I remember it as a golden moment. One of my life’s most important moments. Because it was the day I realised that I was enough. Just me.

And that I could make new dreams, for myself and my loved ones. Just knowing that changed everything.

Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/11310567/Divorce-How-I-survived-my-first-Christmas-afterwards.html

Thursday, 19 December 2019

A happy Christmas with separated parents

Christmas is a special time for children and therefore for their parents too. This holiday, which traditionally involves the family unit, can be difficult for separated parents, especially when their children are not with them for Christmas. We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions by co-parents during the run-up to December 24 and solutions to some of them in order to revive the magic of Christmas for them in their own way.

Who will have custody of the children this year?

Divorced parents are often very fussy about compliance with childcare during the holiday season. To avoid a family crisis that would disturb children, it is better to update your custody calendar several months in advance. Sandrine says: ” My children will spend Christmas Eve and Christmas day with me and my family this year. It alternates every year with my ex-husband and I think it is very suitable for everyone because nobody feels cheated “. In all cases, do not ask children to choose which parent they want to spend Christmas with as this would undermine their sense of loyalty towards the excluded parent.

What gift will I give to my daughter or my son?

After a separation, you may feel guilty towards your children, or jealous towards the former spouse. Subsequently in some families, there is a competition for who can give the most expensive gift for Christmas. The relationship with the co-parent is not a competition and the child can quickly understand the mechanism and take advantage of this weakness to get what he or she wants. David explains: “My ex-wife does not have the same financial means as me, which creates some tension with the approach of Christmas or birthdays. After a few unfortunate episodes, we made an effort to consult each other before the holidays to prevent our daughter from being a witness to our differences. Sometimes we offer a bigger, common gift.”

Should I invite my ex to the party for the benefit of my children?

Why not, if you still share some affection . But it should not raise false hopes. A child can lose his bearings when his separated parents meet and give the impression of a family unit. Be careful too about the organizational nightmare that this can create with in step families: what about new family members and their children?

This is my first Christmas divorced with kids

Unconsciously or not, many separated parents are hit by nostalgia which can invade Christmas. Jean-François has become habituated to inviting his two teenagers to a restaurant with his new girlfriend: ” I found myself alone, desperate to organize a perfect Eve. It quickly turned into a culinary fiasco. Since then, I reserve a good restaurant, and on Christmas Eve we go out”. Martine has made a clean sweep of her former life: “It reminded me too much of old memories. I decided to change all the dishes, table decoration and especially the menu. Finish the game, and flash garlands”. Separation, it changes people. It is normal for family traditions to evolve to better match the new life of each. And if you feel better as well, the children will be the ones to benefit.

This is my first Christmas divorced without my children

Separated parents agree that this is a difficult moment to go through. “After a few years, one tends to become experienced” says Sandra, who found tricks to not spend Christmas alone. ” I made new friends who are mostly like me. We take the opportunity to meet on Christmas Eve and have a good time without getting depressed. I know my children are with their father so I do not let myself worry about them “. You have to reassure yourself: there will be other Christmases you’ll spend with the children and we have the whole year to spend with them. This is the moment to take care of yourself.

Source: https://www.2houses.com/en/blog/a-happy-christmas-with-separated-parents/

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

How To Take The “Ba-Humbug” Out Of Your First Post-Divorce Christmas

My ex and I separated in January which left me the entire year to worry about what the Christmas season would mean for our children and me. I’m a lover of all things Christmas, the decorating, the food and getting together with family and friends. The holidays had always been a time of celebration and family in our home.

What the hell would that first Christmas be like as a divorced, single mom who was feeling anything but the holiday “spirit?”

If you are divorced Christmas may be a corner you aren’t looking forward to turning. Most people happily anticipate the holiday season but for some it is a period of loneliness, isolation, depression, conflict over visitation schedules and more time thinking about an ex you don’t want to think about.

And, that is OK; it is alright to have all the feelings above and then some. I promise, you are not alone, there are many out there dreading Thanksgiving, Christmas and all that comes along with it. Don’t get me wrong though, just because it is OK to feel sad is no reason to wallow in the sadness.

If there is ever a time of year to put aside life’s stress it is during the holiday season. How do you get yourself out of your funk? One thing that has always worked for me is to let go of the guilt I feel over feeling less than festive.

It has been my experience that feeling bad about feeling bad only made me feel worse. It was like piling one more negative emotion to deal with on top of everything else. If you are divorced and feeling alone and funked you are experiencing normal feelings. Accept that it is fine to feel how you’re feeling…berating yourself over valid feelings doesn’t do anything except make you feel worse.

You need to also give yourself permission to enjoy the holiday season regardless of what kind of adversity you have or, are experiencing. Feeling lonely and isolated doesn’t have to become a foregone conclusion. Just because you aren’t feeling the holiday season is no reason to immerse yourself in maudlin activities while others are out and about enjoy the holidays.

Here are a few suggestions that will hopefully help alleviate some stress and help you feel a bit more of the holiday spirit.

4 Tips To Help You Survive Your First Post-Divorce Christmas:

1. Don’t wait until the last minute to set up the holiday visitation schedule with your ex.
Get all those plans made by the end of October. Set them in stone! Know when, where and who your children will be with for Thanksgiving and Christmas and then put that stress aside. Get it taken care of then let it go.

2. Don’t participate in any holiday activities you feel obligated to participate in. If you aren’t in the mood to be around nosy relatives, then make a different choice. Listening to Grandma’s complaints or having to answer your cousin’s questions about your divorce can be nerve wracking. Be kind to your nerves and yourself!

3. Friends who supported you through your divorce, who know what you’ve been through will also get you through the holiday season.
Spend time with people who are invested in helping your get the most out of life…who better than close friends who don’t expect too much from you.

4. If you find yourself alone, remind yourself that you have a right to a good time. I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day alone one year. I wasn’t looking forward to it but now that I look back I realize that, although alone it was one darn good time.

Being alone for the holidays doesn’t mean you can’t hang some ornaments on a tree. Or decorate the mantle. You don’t have to go all out and deck every hall but bringing out reminders of the fact that it is a “time to be jolly” will be doing yourself a favour.

I purchased scented candles and the holiday scents waffled through the house. I baked Snicker Doodles, took a bubble bath while listening to Emmylou Harris’s “Light of the Stable.” I then watched chick flicks from a bed with clean, crisp sheets and a plate of cookies and a glass of eggnog on the night stand. I missed my children but I took the opportunity to give myself the gift of relaxation and pampering instead of ruminating over the fact I was alone and not doing exactly what I wanted to do.

Stress and negative feelings during the holidays can be difficult, but they don’t have to be debilitating. Making time to relax and do the things you enjoy is essential to keeping a balance. When the holidays finally arrive, remind yourself that you have as much right to a good time as anyone else, and relax and enjoy the occasion to the best of your ability. And whether you feel like it or not, you do have the ability to enjoy the holidays regardless of your situation.

Source: https://divorcedmoms.com/how-to-take-the-bahumbug-out-of-your-first-postdivorce-christmas/

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Holiday survival guide for divorced parents

David Murphy hasn't started shopping for his two boys yet, and he knows he had better get started. The divorced father of two boys, ages 11 and 14, has custody for a full week around Christmas Day this year and needs to get a tree and start buying presents.

Every other year, Murphy (who didn't want his real name used to protect his children's privacy) doesn't have Christmas custody. So, he tries to do something completely different. Divorced for four years, he has traveled with his mother to visit England, where she was born. He has joined his father and stepmother on a trip to Carmel, California.

He hasn't crashed his ex-wife's Christmas Day plans, even though she lives only three miles away from his home in suburban Virginia.

"We try not to mess with the schedule when we don't have to because it's easier on both parties," said Murphy. "As each party has moved on, it happened to work that way. We try not to interfere with each other."

With the U.S. Census Bureau counting nearly 4 million divorced parents in this country, many parents are facing the challenges of negotiating holiday custody schedules, battles over presents, new significant others and simply the pain of being apart.

Whether you have the children for Christmas or not this year, going through a separation or divorce means giving up the dream of a perfect Hanukkah, Christmas or Kwanzaa. With the fantasy of the perfect nuclear family obviously over, it can be lonely even with the kids -- but much worse without them. Facing the first holiday since the split, how do people ever survive this holiday season? And eventually even thrive?

Many like Murphy -- who credits his ex-wife with keeping the focus on their sons' well-being during the divorce -- have found a new way of parenting beyond divorce. Here are some things that work:

Keep it focused on the kids

You may not expect to have a happy holiday but wouldn't you like your kids to have a reasonably nice time? Even if you're right, do you want them remembering you put them in the middle of your battles? And no child wants to feel pressure to choose you over the other parent, whom she loves as much as she loves you.

Parents learn about the payoff later, when their grown children make their own choices about where they spend their holidays. In her book "We're Still Family," about adult children of divorce, psychologist Constance Ahrons learned that some adult children refused to visit either parent if the bickering continued. "The children were happiest where parents at least communicated," said Ahrons, also the author of "The Good Divorce." "They didn't want to get caught in the middle, and they wanted to be with both parents."

Sort out details in advance

Nail down the specifics about who gets which days around the winter holidays, including pickup times and locations. Sometimes the details are in your custody agreement, sometimes not. Put it all on e-mail or in writing and stick to the deal -- at least until it becomes routine. If you're a more casual, less detail-oriented parent, know that you'll score points with your more time-obsessed ex if you're on time at drop-off and pick-up. If you're the detail-oriented parent, plan for your always-late ex to be late as usual and you'll be less stressed. Do not fight about time or anything else with the children present.

"Put aside the warfare that so often accompanies divorce," said Steven Grissom, president of DivorceCare, a Christian-based divorce ministry with chapters around the world. "If that carries into a special time in the eyes of child, it makes the holiday experience excruciating."

Don't out-Santa each other

If you can speak civilly with your ex, talk about a general budget for presents, the number of presents and what Santa is getting your children. Santa knows which address to deliver the bike or the castle or the Wii, so don't screw up his planning by having one at each house (unless you both want one at each house). Don't outdo each other. Remember the spirit of the holidays and avoid trying to buy the children off with fabulous presents. And don't buy that violent video game for the specific purpose of angering your ex. The same goes for grandparents and new significant others. If they're interfering in your co-parenting plan, remind them they are not helping your child. At the same time, accept that parents may have different standards about what are acceptable gifts. If you are opposed to electronic games, you may need to accept they will exist at your ex's house.

Keep some traditions, within reason

Children love routine and ritual, so keep a few family traditions if you can. If you baked dozens of different types of cookies for everyone in your life, reduce the number and type of cookies during your annual baking party but keep your daughter's favorite snickerdoodles. If your family liked to take a trip into the woods in your ex's truck to cut down a tree, you may have to explain that your smaller car can't haul such a tree. "To the extent you can, talk with your children ahead of time and find out what is really important to them," Grissom said. "If that won't be possible, maybe you can create a new tradition."

Don't push too much togetherness

While some ex-spouses can sing carols around the Christmas tree or light the Hanukkah candles together with the kids and both sets of grandparents, that's not the reality for everyone. Some do not want to spend time with people who left them or whom they chose to leave. Some people fight every time they see each other. Do not force more togetherness than either of you can handle, and don't feel guilty about it. (That said, if you haven't broken up yet, wait until January. Don't be the Divorcing Grinch Who Stole Christmas.)

Don't lobby for your sweetheart

Bringing a new significant other to the family festivities can really throw the holidays off-balance for the family, Ahrons said. "One parent will say, 'Are you really going to bring her to this table?' or 'You can come without her.' Avoid if it's going to cause trouble, even if the new girlfriend is serious." Remember, it's about your kids, not you.

The exception to the rule

If your ex is currently a danger to himself or herself -- and/or others -- the safety of your children is more important than cooperating during the holidays. In fact, you're probably trying to break the pattern of your ex ruining holiday celebrations. Elizabeth Jones, who didn't want her real name used to protect her child, isn't letting her ex spend the holidays with their daughter for the first time in years. He only recently contacted Jones a couple of weeks ago after disappearing for months. Whenever he sobers up, she first lets him have supervised phone calls for a few weeks, eventually visits with her and their daughter at a neutral location such as a park, followed by visits at her California home. "If my kid weren't so thrilled every time she got to see him, I would be handling this differently," said Jones, who has sole custody. "It's a lot of emotional work for me to put aside my own feelings."

He's a jerk

If you're a saint and your ex is a sinner and won't take any of your thoughtful recommendations to heart, consider this notion: Safety aside, it's better for your child for you to let your ex "win" sometimes, even if you're right. Christmas can sometimes fall on December 27 or even January 6 (the Feast of the Three Kings). Hanukkah is eight nights of fun, so you don't need to control alleight nights. That doesn't mean you're a doormat. It means you're a good parent.

Your adult child will know you tried to make her life better by trying to compromise with your difficult ex (and yes, children know who was difficult).

"How you react to your ex-spouse is how you are teaching your child to handle conflict, stress and anger," said Alan Kazdin, a Yale University psychology professor and director of Yale's Parenting Center. "Giving up a Christmas here or there means you'll have your child long-term. You want your child to have an ally in you later in life. It's not only more rewarding; it's more worthwhile long term."

Source: http://edition.cnn.com/2011/12/21/living/holiday-survival-divorced-darents/index.html